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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names: Photofrin

Generic Name: porfimer (Pronunciation: POR fi mer)

What is porfimer (Photofrin)?

Porfimer increases the sensitivity of tissues to the effects of light. Porfimer is used before the administration of laser light to cancerous tumors to decrease tumor size.

Porfimer is used in the treatment of some esophageal and lung cancers.

Porfimer may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of porfimer (Photofrin)?

If you experience any of the following serious side effects from porfimer, contact your doctor immediately:

  • an allergic reaction (including difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);
  • shortness of breath or increased coughing;
  • chest pain;
  • bloody vomit or black, bloody, or tarry stools; or
  • a severe skin reaction to light such as blistering.

Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Talk to your doctor if you experience

  • mild constipation;
  • nausea;
  • mild to moderate skin reactions such as redness, swelling, itching, or burning sensations;
  • increased hair growth, skin discoloration, skin growths, increased wrinkles, or increased skin fragility of the area treated; or
  • eye sensitivity to sun, bright lights, or car headlights.

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. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about porfimer (Photofrin)?

Porfimer should only be administered under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider experienced in the use of cancer chemotherapeutic agents.

After porfimer has been administered, exposure to sunlight or bright indoor light (examination lamps, dental lights, operating room lamps, tanning beds, or very close unshaded light bulbs) must be avoided for at least 30 days. Sensitivity may last for 90 days or more. Exposure to normal indoor light is good, as this helps the body to eliminate porfimer. Therefore, do not stay in darkened rooms. Before exposing any area of skin to direct sunlight or bright indoor light, test for sensitivity by exposing a small area of skin to sunlight for 10 minutes. If there is no reaction (such as redness, blistering or swelling) within 24 hours, you can gradually increase your sun exposure time. If a reaction does occur, wait another 2 weeks before testing again. Do not use the face or skin around the eyes as a test area. If you travel to a place that has more sunlight, you should retest with the 10 minute exposure procedure. Sun screens will not prevent a reaction. Sun screens stop UV (invisible) light, while porfimer makes the skin sensitive to visible light

Porfimer may increase the sensitivity of the eyes to sun, bright lights, or car headlights. Dark sunglasses which have an average white light transmittance of less than 4% should be worn when outdoors for 30 days following treatment with porfimer.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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