Medically reviewed on June 7, 2018
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Respiratory Agent
Uses For This Medicine
Pirfenidone is used to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Pirfenidone is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before Using This Medicine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For pirfenidone, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to pirfenidone or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of pirfenidone in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of pirfenidone in the elderly.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking pirfenidone, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using pirfenidone with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Interferon Alfa-2b
- Peginterferon Alfa-2b
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using pirfenidone with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use pirfenidone, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of pirfenidone. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Kidney disease or
- Liver disease or
- Stomach or bowel problems—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
Proper Use of This Medicine
Take pirfenidone exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. To do so may increase the chance of side effects.
Pirfenidone should come with patient information leaflet. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
It is best to take pirfenidone with food and at the same time each day.
The dose of pirfenidone will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of pirfenidone. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage forms (capsules or tablets):
- For idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis:
- Adults—On Days 1 to 7, 267 milligrams (mg) 3 times a day. On Days 8 to 14, 534 mg 3 times a day. On Day 15 and each day after, 801 mg 3 times a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 2403 mg per day.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis:
If you miss a dose of pirfenidone, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
If you miss a dose for 14 days or more, tell your doctor right away. You may need to start at a lower dose again.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions While Using This Medicine
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that pirfenidone is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Check with your doctor right away if you have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.
Pirfenidone may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Use sunscreen or sunblock lotions with a sun protection factor (SPF) 50 or higher on a regular basis when you are outdoors. Wear protective clothing and hats and stay out of direct sunlight, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.
Check with your doctor right away if you have diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, stomach pain or upset while using pirfenidone.
Stop smoking before treatment with Esbriet® and avoid smoking while you are using pirfenidone.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
This Medicine Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- itching or skin rash
- redness or other discoloration of the skin
- severe sunburn
- stomach discomfort, upset, or pain
Incidence not known
- Cough or hoarseness
- fever with or without chills
- general feeling of tiredness or weakness
- large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
- lower back or side pain
- painful or difficult urination
- sore throat
- sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
- unusual bleeding or bruising
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Acid or sour stomach
- body aches or pain
- change in taste
- ear congestion
- heartburn or indigestion
- increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight
- joint or muscle pain
- lack or loss of strength
- loss of appetite
- pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
- stuffy or runny nose
- trouble sleeping
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- weight loss
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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- Drug class: miscellaneous uncategorized agents
Other brands: Esbriet