1 What is Photofrin?

Brand: Photofrin

Generic: Porfimer

Photofrin is an antineoplastic used together with a special laser light for the treatment of esophageal cancer and a form of lung cancer.

This drug may also treat Barrett's esophagus. This drug is to be given only by or under the direct supervision of a healthcare professional.

2 What to Know Before Using

Before using Photofrin, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it. Inform your healthcare provider for any allergic reactions to these drugs or any other drugs, foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. Carefully read the label of non-prescription drugs for any possible allergic reaction or contraindications.

Studies in children regarding the correlation of age to the effects of porfimer injection have not been performed while safety and efficacy have not been established. Studies in the elderly have not demonstrated any geriatric-specific problems that would limit the utility of porfimer.

Adverse effects have been reported in animal studies but studies in pregnant women or animals are still inadequate. Infant risk is still undetermined when using this drug during breastfeeding. Discuss with your healthcare professional about the potential risks and benefits of taking this drug while breastfeeding.

Drugs should not be taken together to prevent any interactions but in necessary cases inquire your healthcare provider regarding the adjustments in dosage or any other necessary precautions to prevent any unwanted side effects. Inform your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription drugs.

Intake of specific food or using alcohol or tobacco with this drug is associated with an increased risk of certain side effects. Your healthcare professional can give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Inform your healthcare provider for any other medical problems such as:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Prolonged immobilization
  • Surgery
  • Esophageal ulcers
  • Porphyria
  • Tracheoesophageal or Bronchoesophageal fistula
  • Tumors or Lesions that obstruct blood vessels or breathing airways
  • Varices in the esophagus or stomach
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Radiation therapy
  • Sensitivity of the skin or Eyes to sunlight or bright lights

3 Proper Usage

Proper usage of Photofrin requires strict adherence to your doctor’s orders. A trained healthcare professional will be the only one to give you this drug. This drug is administered intravenously through a needle placed in one of your veins.

Treatment with Photofrin and laser light occurs in three steps. First, the Photofrin is injected into your body. Second, about 2 days later, a laser light is directed at cancer. Then, about 2 or 3 days after the light is applied, your healthcare will remove the cancer cells that have been destroyed.

4 Precautions to Take

Before using DRUG, there are some precautions you must take. Regular visits should be made to your healthcare provider to track your progress and to monitor the effectiveness of the drug. Your eyes will be extra sensitive to light, including sunlight, bright indoor lights, and vehicle headlights for at least 30 days after you receive an injection of this drug.

It is recommended to use certain types of sunglasses to help protect your eyes during this time. Check with your healthcare professional about which sunglasses to use.

Your skin will be extra sensitive to sunlight and to very bright indoor lights, such as lamps with unshaded light bulbs and lights in dental offices or operating rooms for at least 30 days after you receive an injection of this drug.

Your skin must not be exposed to direct sunlight or too bright indoor lights during this time. Sunscreens will not protect your skin from a severe reaction to light. However, contact to normal amounts of indoor light will help utilize the Photofrin remaining in your skin. Protecting your skin from normal amounts of indoor light is not recommended.

It is recommended to test a small portion of your skin by exposing it to sunlight for 10 minutes thirty days after being injected with this drug.

You can gradually increase your exposure to sunlight and bright indoor lights if the exposed part of your skin does not become blistered, red, or swollen during the next 24 hours. Wait another 2 weeks, then test your sensitivity to sunlight again if a reaction does occur.

You may still be sensitive to brighter levels of light even after your skin and eyes are no longer sensitive to the lights in your home or the amount of sunlight in the area where you live. It is recommended to test yourself again before exposing your skin to the stronger light if you travel to an area where the sunlight is stronger than at home.

Consult with your healthcare professional about the best way to treat your chest pain during treatment. Your chance of having esophageal stenosis is increased if you are using this drug to treat Barrett's esophagus. Check with your healthcare professional immediately if you start to have trouble with swallowing after you have received this drug.

Check with your healthcare professional if you have symptoms of blood clotting problems such as:

  • Pain in the chest, groin, or legs, especially the calves
  • Difficulty with breathing
  • Severe, Sudden headache
  • Slurred speech
  • Sudden, Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Sudden loss of coordination
  • Sudden, Severe weakness or numbness in the arm or leg
  • Vision changes

5 Potential Side Effects

As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Photofrin. Side effects may vary for each individual and prompt medical attention should be given if they occur.

Seek advice from your healthcare professional immediately if you experience any unusual symptoms such as:

  • 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
  • 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

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine, the side effects will slowly disappear. Ask your healthcare professional about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

If any of the following side effects persists or are inconvenient, or if you notice any other effects, or if you have any questions about them, consult with your health care professional. Report any side effects to the FDA hotline at 1-800-FDA-1088.