Generic Name: porfimer (POR fi mer)
Brand Name: Photofrin
What is Photofrin (porfimer)?
Porfimer makes your body's tissues more sensitive to the effects of light.
Porfimer is used together with "photodynamic" laser light therapy to reduce the size of tumors in the lungs or esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth and stomach).
Porfimer may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about Photofrin (porfimer)?
You should not receive this medication if you have porphyria, esophageal bleeding, a fistula (abnormal passageway) in the throat or esophagus, or a tumor that affects a large blood vessel.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving Photofrin (porfimer)?
You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to porfimer, or if you have:
porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system);
a fistula (abnormal passageway) in the throat or esophagus;
esophageal bleeding; or
if you have a tumor that affects a large blood vessel.
To make sure porfimer is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
liver or kidney disease;
late-stage cancer; or
a history of stroke or blood clot.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether porfimer will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while being treated with this medication.
It is not known whether porfimer passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are receiving porfimer.
How is Photofrin (porfimer)given?
Porfimer is injected into a vein through an IV. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting.
Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when porfimer is injected.
You will receive laser light treatment within 40 to 50 hours after your porfimer infusion. A second laser light treatment may be given within 96 to 120 hours after your infusion.
Porfimer will make your skin and eyes more sensitive to sunlight. For at least 30 days after you are treated with porfimer, you must protect your eyes and skin from natural sunlight and bright indoor lights (such as lights in a doctor's office, operating room lamps, tanning beds, bright halogen lights, or unshaded light bulbs).
To avoid exposure to sunlight, keep all parts of your skin covered with clothing and wear dark sunglasses when you are outdoors. Sunscreen will not protect you from severe sunburn during the 30-day period after your treatment with porfimer.
Your sensitivity to light may last for up to 90 days or longer. To determine when this effect has worn off, you may test your skin to see if it is still sensitive to sunlight.
Expose a small area of skin to direct sunlight or bright indoor light for about 10 minutes.
Do not use the skin on your face or around your eyes to test for light sensitivity.
If the exposed skin develops redness, swelling, or blistering within 24 hours, wait another 2 weeks before testing again.
If your exposure to sunlight will increase because of travel or relocation within the 90-day period after you receive porfimer, test your skin again.
Exposure to indirect sunlight (sun shining through a window) is not as harmful and will actually help your body eliminate porfimer from your tissues. Follow your doctor's instructions about the best amount of light exposure.
If you need surgery or if you will be on bed rest, you may need to stop using this medication for a short time. Any doctor or surgeon who treats you should know that you are being treated with porfimer.
While using porfimer, you may need frequent medical tests or a biopsy every 3 months. Follow your doctor's instructions.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your laser light therapy. The timing between your porfimer injection and your light therapy is important for the treatment to be effective.
What happens if I overdose?
Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.
What should I avoid after receiving Photofrin (porfimer)?
Avoid exposure to sunlight or bright indoor lights for 30 to 90 days after you are treated with porfimer.
This medication may cause your eyes to be more sensitive to oncoming headlights while you are driving. Avoid driving at night until this effect wears off.
Photofrin (porfimer) side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
fever, chills, pale skin, cough, stabbing chest pain, coughing up mucus or blood;
wheezing, gasping for breath, anxiety, sweating, fast or uneven heart rate;
pain in your chest or left side, pain behind your breastbone, pain when you breathe, feeling short of breath (even when lying down);
dehydration--if you feel very thirsty or hot, are unable to urinate, and have heavy sweating or hot and dry skin; or
signs of a stroke--sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance.
Common side effects may include:
increased sensitivity of your eyes to light;
nausea, vomiting, stomach pain;
sleep problems (insomnia); or
sore throat, mild cough.
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.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Photofrin (porfimer)?
Porfimer can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. This effect may be increased when you also use certain other medicines, including: antibiotics, heart or blood pressure medication, certain anti-psychotic medication, or medicine to control severe nausea and vomiting (such as Compazine or Phenergan).
Other drugs may interact with porfimer, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.
More about Photofrin (porfimer)
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about porfimer.
- 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.
- Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 4.01.
Date modified: January 10, 2017
Last reviewed: February 13, 2014