Generic Name: porfimer (POR-fi-mer)
Brand Name: Photofrin
Porfimer is used for:
Relieving symptoms of esophageal cancer in certain patients and treating a certain type of lung cancer in certain patients. It is also used to treat a certain esophagus problem (Barrett esophagus) in certain patients. It is used in combination with laser light therapy.
Porfimer is an antineoplastic. It works by binding to cancer cells that are then exposed to laser light, which damages and sometimes kills the cancer cells.
Do NOT use porfimer if:
- you are allergic to any ingredient in porfimer
- you have the blood disorder porphyria
- you have an abnormal passage between the esophagus and trachea or windpipe or emergency breathing problems due to a bronchial lesion obstructing airflow
- you have a tumor involving a major blood vessel
- you have an ulcer in your esophagus, or swollen veins in the esophagus or stomach
Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.
Before using porfimer:
Some medical conditions may interact with porfimer. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:
- if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
- if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
- if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
- if you have heart or blood vessel problems, kidney problems, or liver problems, or you are dehydrated
- if you have had or will be having radiation treatment
- if you have had surgery or will be confined to a bed or chair for a period of time
Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with porfimer. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:
- Photosensitizing agents (eg, tetracyclines, such as doxycycline; sulfonamides, such as sulfamethoxazole; phenothiazines, such as chlorpromazine; sulfonylureas, such as glyburide; thiazide diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide; griseofulvin; fluoroquinolone antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin) because the risk of photosensitivity reactions may be increased
This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if porfimer may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.
How to use porfimer:
Use porfimer as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.
- Porfimer is administered as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. Ask your health care provider any questions that you may have about porfimer.
- If you miss a dose of porfimer, contact your doctor right away.
Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use porfimer.
Important safety information:
- Porfimer will make your eyes and skin extremely sensitive to sunlight and intense indoor light (eg, dental lamps, unshaded light bulbs) for at least 30 days. Sensitivity may last up to 90 days or more after treatment. For at least 30 days after receiving porfimer and laser light treatment, it is important to protect your eyes and skin from exposure to sunlight or brightly focused indoor light. Do not avoid all indoor light, just intense light. Sunscreens, even those with high SPF factors, will not provide adequate protection from sunlight. After 30 days, expose a small area of skin to the sun for 10 minutes. If your skin turns red, swells, or blisters within 24 hours after exposure to sunlight, avoid the sun for 2 weeks before retesting. The tissue around the eyes may be very sensitive; do not use the face for testing. If you travel to an area that has stronger sunlight, test your skin before exposure to the stronger sunlight. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
- Do not use heating pads while being treated with porfimer. Applying heat may cause skin redness and blistering.
- Sunlight, bright lights, and car headlights may cause eye discomfort while you are taking porfimer. Wear dark sunglasses outdoors for at least 30 days and until eye sensitivity resolves after receiving porfimer.
- If nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea occurs, you will need to take care not to become dehydrated. Contact your doctor for instructions on how to lessen these effects.
- Lab tests, including biopsies of treated tissues, may be performed while you use porfimer. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
- Porfimer should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
- PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: It is not known if porfimer can cause harm to the fetus. If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using porfimer while you are pregnant. It is not known if porfimer is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking porfimer.
Possible side effects of porfimer:
All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:
Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:
Anxiety; appetite loss; belching; constipation; diarrhea; headache; hiccups; indigestion; mild fever; mild redness, swelling, itching, warmth, or burning of the skin; mild stomach pain; nausea; trouble sleeping; vomiting; weakness; weight loss.
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); back pain; burns or blisters on the skin; calf or leg pain, swelling, redness, or tenderness; changes in vision; chest, jaw, or arm pain; confusion; coughing up blood; dark, bloody stools; difficult or painful urination; difficulty swallowing or speaking; dry mouth or eyes; fainting; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; fever, chills, or persistent cough or sore throat; increased thirst; light-headedness or dizziness; one-sided weakness; pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; severe or persistent headache; severe or persistent nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain; shortness of breath; slow or difficult breathing; sluggishness; slurred speech; sudden, unexplained weight gain; swelling of the hands, ankles, or feet; unusual tiredness or weakness; vomit that looks like coffee grounds; wheezing; white patches in the mouth or throat or on the tongue; yellowing of the skin or eyes.
This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. If it is determined that too much of porfimer was given, you should protect your eyes and skin from direct sunlight or bright indoor light for 30 days. Laser treatments should not be given if you have received too much of porfimer. Too much laser light following the use of porfimer could lead to increased symptoms and life-threatening difficulty breathing.Proper storage of porfimer:
Porfimer is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. Keep porfimer out of the reach of children and away from pets.
- If you have any questions about porfimer, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- Porfimer is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
- If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
- Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.
This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take porfimer or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about porfimer. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to porfimer. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using porfimer.
Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.