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All about: Photofrin

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Generic Name: Porfimer (POR-fi-mer)
Brand Name: Photofrin

Photofrin is used for:

Relieving symptoms of some cancers and treating certain other cancers and tumors. It is used in combination with laser light therapy.

Photofrin is an antineoplastic. It works by binding to cancer cells that are then exposed to laser light, which damages and sometimes kills the cancer cells.

Do NOT use Photofrin if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Photofrin
  • you have the blood disorder porphyria, an abnormal passage between the esophagus and trachea or windpipe, emergency breathing problems due to a bronchial lesion obstructing airflow, or a severe tumor involving a major blood vessel

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using Photofrin :

Some medical conditions may interact with this medicine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Photofrin . Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Photosensitizing agents (eg, tetracyclines, sulfonamides, phenothiazines, certain blood glucose medicines, certain water pills, griseofulvin, fluoroquinolones) because the risk of photosensitivity reactions may be increased

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Photofrin may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Photofrin :

Use Photofrin as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Photofrin comes with an additional patient leaflet. Read it carefully and reread it each time you get Photofrin refilled.
  • Photofrin is usually administered as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you are using Photofrin at home, carefully follow the injection procedures taught to you by your health care provider.
  • If you miss a dose of Photofrin , contact your doctor right away.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Photofrin .

Important safety information:

  • Photofrin will make your eyes and skin extremely sensitive to sunlight and intense indoor light. For up to 90 days after receiving Photofrin and laser light treatment, it is important to protect your eyes and skin from exposure to sunlight or brightly focused indoor light. Do not avoid all indoor light, just intense light. Sunscreens, even those with high SPF factors, will not provide adequate protection from sunlight. After 30 days, expose a finger or the back of your hand to the sun for 5 minutes. If your finger or hand turns red or blisters, avoid the sun for 2 weeks before retesting.
  • Do not use heating pads while being treated with Photofrin . Applying heat may cause skin redness and blistering.
  • The tissue around the eyes may be very sensitive to sunlight, bright lights, and car lights. Wear dark sunglasses for 30 days after receiving Photofrin .
  • Women who can become pregnant should use an effective method of birth control while using Photofrin .
  • LAB TESTS, such as biopsies of treated tissues, may be required to monitor your progress. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: It is unknown if Photofrin can cause harm to the fetus. If you become pregnant while taking Photofrin , discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using Photofrin during pregnancy. It is unknown if Photofrin is excreted in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Photofrin .

Possible side effects of Photofrin :

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Anxiety; appetite loss; belching; confusion; constipation; diarrhea; fever; headache; hiccups; indigestion; nausea; oral infection; swelling of the hands and feet; trouble sleeping; vomiting; weight loss.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); back pain; burns or blisters on the skin; changes in vision; chest pain; chills; coughing; dark, bloody stools; dehydration; depression; difficulty swallowing; fast heartbeat; irregular heartbeat; lightheadedness; pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; pneumonia; shortness of breath; slow or difficult breathing; throat, stomach, or abdominal pain; tightness in the chest; weakness; yellowing of the skin or eyes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions or need medical advice about side effects, contact your doctor or health care provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (http://www.aapcc.org/findyour.htm), or emergency room immediately. If it is determined that too much of Photofrin was given, you should protect your eyes and skin from direct sunlight or bright indoor light for 30 days. Laser treatments should not be given if you have received too much of Photofrin . Too much laser light following overdosage of Photofrin could lead to increased symptoms and life-threatening difficulty breathing.

Proper storage of Photofrin :

Photofrin is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. Store the vial of dry powder at room temperature, 68 to 77 degrees F (20 to 25 degrees C). Keep Photofrin out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Photofrin , please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Photofrin is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about Photofrin . If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Issue Date: September 5, 2007
Database Edition 07.3.1.003
Copyright © 2007 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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