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Generic name: aminolevulinic acid (oral) [ a-MEE-noh-lev-yoo-lin-ik-AS-id ]
Drug class: Malignancy photosensitizers

Medically reviewed by on Feb 27, 2023. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is Gleolan?

Gleolan is given before surgery to remove a glioma (a type of brain or spinal cord tumor).

Taking Gleolan causes a certain substance to build up within your tumor tissue. This allows the tissue to be seen more clearly through a special light scope that is used during surgery to remove the tumor.

Gleolan may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.


For 48 hours after taking Gleolan, you will need to protect your skin from light, both sunlight and bright indoor light.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Gleolan if you are allergic to Gleolan or porphyrins, or if you have:

  • porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system).

Tell your doctor if you have ever had liver or kidney disease.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

Do not breastfeed within 24 hours after using Gleolan. If you use a breast pump during this time, throw out the milk and do not feed it to your baby.

How should I use Gleolan?

Gleolan is usually given about 3 hours before surgery. A healthcare provider will prepare and give you this medicine.

For 48 hours after taking Gleolan, you will need to protect your skin from bright light. Avoid exposure to both sunlight and bright indoor light. Wear protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat when you are outdoors. If you feel stinging or burning of the treated skin, reduce your exposure to light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Gleolan is used as a single dose and does not have a daily dosing schedule.

What happens if I overdose?

In a medical setting an overdose would be treated quickly.

What should I avoid after using Gleolan?

Avoid exposure to sunlight or bright indoor light for 48 hours after taking Gleolan. Wear a hat and clothing that covers your skin.

Gleolan side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Your caregivers will watch you closely to make sure you do not have an allergic reaction, and to treat a reaction if it does occur.

Many side effects can occur up to 6 weeks after you took Gleolan. Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • skin redness or swelling, raised red areas;

  • skin rash, itching, or blistering;

  • a seizure;

  • chills; or

  • trouble speaking or understanding what is said to you.

Common side effects of Gleolan may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Gleolan?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines. Certain medicines also can make you more sensitive to bright light and should be avoided within 24 hours before or after you take Gleolan. This includes:

  • St. John's wort;

  • an antifungal medicine;

  • an antibiotic or sulfa medicine;

  • a diuretic or "water pill";

  • topical medicine containing Gleolan;

  • antipsychotic medicine; or

  • an oral diabetes medicine.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect Gleolan, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.