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Photofrin Side Effects

Generic Name: porfimer

Note: This page contains side effects data for the generic drug porfimer. It is possible that some of the dosage forms included below may not apply to the brand name Photofrin.

For the Consumer

Applies to porfimer: intravenous powder for solution

As well as its needed effects, porfimer (the active ingredient contained in Photofrin) may cause unwanted side effects that require medical attention.

If any of the following side effects occur while taking porfimer, check with your doctor or nurse immediately:

More common:
  • Bladder pain
  • bloody or cloudy urine
  • blurred vision
  • body aches or pain
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • confusion
  • congestion
  • cough
  • coughing or spitting up blood
  • difficult or troubled breathing
  • difficult, burning, or painful urination
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dilated neck veins
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • dryness or soreness of the throat
  • extreme fatigue
  • fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
  • fever or chills
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • headache
  • hoarseness
  • increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight
  • irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
  • itching
  • lower back or side pain
  • nervousness
  • pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • pale skin
  • pounding in the ears
  • redness or other discoloration of the skin
  • runny nose
  • severe pain in the chest
  • severe sunburn
  • skin rash
  • slow or fast heartbeat
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • sudden onset of severe breathing difficulty
  • sweating
  • swelling of the face, fingers, feet, or lower legs
  • tender, swollen glands in the neck
  • tightness in the chest
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • voice changes
  • vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
  • weight gain
  • white patches in the mouth or throat or on the tongue
  • white patches with diaper rash
Less common:
  • Bloody, black, or tarry stools
  • decrease in the amount of urine
  • decreased urination
  • dry mouth
  • fainting
  • heartburn
  • increase in heart rate
  • noisy, rattling breathing
  • pain or burning in the throat
  • rapid breathing
  • shortness of breath
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or tongue or inside the mouth
  • sunken eyes
  • thirst
  • troubled breathing at rest
  • vomiting
  • wrinkled skin

Minor Side Effects

Some porfimer side effects may not need any medical attention. As your body gets used to the medicine these side effects may disappear. Your health care professional may be able to help you prevent or reduce these side effects, but do check with them if any of the following side effects continue, or if you are concerned about them:

More common:
  • Acid or sour stomach
  • back pain
  • belching
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • fear or nervousness
  • indigestion
  • lack or loss of strength
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • pain
  • sleeplessness
  • stomach discomfort, upset, or pain
  • trouble sleeping
  • unable to sleep
  • weight loss
Less common:
  • Bloated or full feeling
  • change in the color of treated skin
  • excess air or gas in the stomach
  • increased hair growth
  • small lumps under the skin

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to porfimer: intravenous powder for injection


Very common (10% or more): Photosensitivity reaction (37%)
Postmarketing reports: Angioedema, blister, dry skin, erythema, face edema, photodermatosis, pigmentation disorder, pruritus, pseudoporphyria, rash, skin burning sensation, sunburn, urticaria[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Nausea (37%), esophageal stricture (36%), vomiting (31%), esophageal narrowing (30%), constipation (24%), dysphagia (24%)
abdominal pain (20%)
Common (1% to 10%): Esophageal bleeding, esophageal edema, hematemesis, dyspepsia, esophageal stenosis, diarrhea, esophagitis, eructation, melena, esophageal pain, hiccups, odynophagia
Frequency not reported: Esophageal perforation, gastric ulcer, ileus, peritonitis, regurgitation, heartburn
Postmarketing reports: Gastrointestinal necrosis, dry lips, mouth edema, esophageal fistula, esophageal ulcer, oral pain, esophageal injury[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Anemia (32%)
Postmarketing reports: Leukocytosis, prolonged activated partial thromboplastin time, increased C-reactive protein, erythropenia, decreased hemoglobin, prolonged prothrombin time, increased blood urea[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Pleural effusion (32%), dyspnea (30%), exudate (22%), bronchial mucus plug or bronchial obstruction (21%), pneumonia (18%), cough (15%), hemoptysis (16%), pharyngitis (11%), bronchiostenosis (11%), bronchitis (10%), respiratory insufficiency (10%), respiratory distress
Common (1% to 10%): Tracheoesophageal fistula, bronchial ulceration
Frequency not reported: Bronchospasm, laryngotracheal edema, pneumonitis, pulmonary hemorrhage, pulmonary edema, respiratory failure, stridor, mediastinal inflammation, pulmonary thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, lung abscess, increased sputum
Postmarketing reports: Bronchial injury, bronchial fistula, bronchial hemorrhage, hiccups[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Pyrexia (31%), chest pain (31%), pain (22%), generalized edema (18%), chest discomfort (10%)
Common (1% to 10%): Peripheral edema, asthenia/fatigue/malaise, substernal chest pain, candidiasis, post-procedural complication, post-procedural pain, sepsis
Postmarketing reports: Chills, swelling, decreased total protein[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Insomnia (14%)
Common (1% to 10%): Confusional state, anxiety[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Back pain (11%)[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Atrial fibrillation (10%)
Common (1% to 10%): Cardiac failure, tachycardia, hypotension, hypertension
Frequency not reported: Angina pectoris, bradycardia, myocardial infarction, sick sinus syndrome, supraventricular tachycardia
Postmarketing reports: First degree atrioventricular block, deep vein thrombosis, embolism, phlebitis[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Dehydration (10%)
Common (1% to 10%): Decreased weight, anorexia
Frequency not reported: Fluid imbalance
Postmarketing reports: Fluid overload, hypocalcemia[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Urinary tract infection
Postmarketing reports: Bladder spasm, dysuria, hydronephrosis, micturition urgency, nocturia, urinary retention[Ref]

Nervous system

Common (1% to 10%): Dysphonia
Frequency not reported: Cerebrovascular accident
Postmarketing reports: Dizziness, hypoesthesia, vasovagal syncope[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Tumor hemorrhage[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Jaundice
Postmarketing reports: Pancreatitis, portal vein thrombosis[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Cataracts, ocular sensitivity, abnormal vision, diplopia, eye pain, photophobia
Postmarketing reports: Asthenopia, ocular hyperemia, abnormal visual acuity test[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Hypersensitivity[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Infusion reactions, application site edema[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Photofrin (porfimer)." Sanofi Winthrop Pharmaceuticals, New York, NY.

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

It is possible that some side effects of Photofrin may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. 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 substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.