Photofrin Recall

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Questions & Answers

Side Effects & Adverse Reactions

Following injection with PHOTOFRIN® precautions must be taken to avoid exposure of skin and eyes to direct sunlight or bright indoor light (see PRECAUTIONS, General Precautions and Information for Patients).

Esophageal Cancer

If the esophageal tumor is eroding into the trachea or bronchial tree, the likelihood of tracheoesophageal or bronchoesophageal fistula resulting from treatment is sufficiently high that PDT is not recommended.

Patients with esophageal varices should be treated with extreme caution. Light should not be given directly to the variceal area because of the high risk of bleeding.

Endobronchial Cancer

Patients should be assessed for the possibility that a tumor may be eroding into a pulmonary blood vessel (see CONTRAINDICATIONS). Patients at high risk for fatal massive hemoptysis (FMH) include those with large, centrally located tumors, those with cavitating tumors or those with extensive tumor extrinsic to the bronchus.

If the endobronchial tumor invades deeply into the bronchial wall, the possibility exists for fistula formation upon resolution of tumor.

Photodynamic therapy should be used with extreme caution for endobronchial tumors in locations where treatment-induced inflammation could obstruct the main airway, e.g., long or circumferential tumors of the trachea, tumors of the carina that involve both mainstem bronchi circumferentially, or circumferential tumors in the mainstem bronchus in patients with prior pneumonectomy.

High-Grade Dysplasia (HGD) in Barrett’s Esophagus (BE)

The long-term effect of PDT on HGD in BE is unknown. There is always a risk of cancer or abnormal epithelium that is invisible to the endoscopist beneath the new squamous cell epithelium; these facts emphasize the risk of overlooking cancer in such patients and the need for rigorous continuing surveillance despite the endoscopic appearance of complete squamous cell reepithelialization. It is recommended that endoscopic biopsy surveillance be conducted every three months, until four consecutive negative evaluations for HGD have been recorded; further follow-up may be scheduled every 6 to 12 months, as per judgment of physicians. The follow-up period of the pivotal study at the time of analysis was a minimum of two years (ranging from 2 to 3.6 years).

Legal Issues

There is currently no legal information available for this drug.

FDA Safety Alerts

There are currently no FDA safety alerts available for this drug.

Manufacturer Warnings

There is currently no manufacturer warning information available for this drug.

FDA Labeling Changes

There are currently no FDA labeling changes available for this drug.


Photodynamic therapy with PHOTOFRIN® is indicated for:

  • Palliation of patients with completely obstructing esophageal cancer, or of patients with partially obstructing esophageal cancer who, in the opinion of their physician, cannot be satisfactorily treated with Nd:YAG laser therapy.
  • Reduction of obstruction and palliation of symptoms in patients with completely or partially obstructing endobronchial non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
  • Treatment of microinvasive endobronchial NSCLC in patients for whom surgery and radiotherapy are not indicated.
  • Ablation of high-grade dysplasia in Barrett’s esophagus patients who do not undergo esophagectomy.


There is currently no drug history available for this drug.

Other Information

PHOTOFRIN® (porfimer sodium) for Injection is a photosensitizing agent used in the photodynamic therapy (PDT) of tumors and of high-grade dysplasia (HGD) in Barrett’s esophagus (BE). Following reconstitution of the freeze-dried product with 5% Dextrose Injection (USP) or 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection (USP), it is injected intravenously. This is followed 40−50 hours later by illumination of the tumor or HGD in BE with laser light (630 nm wavelength). PHOTOFRIN® is not a single chemical entity; it is a mixture of oligomers formed by ether and ester linkages of up to eight porphyrin units. It is a dark red to reddish brown cake or powder. Each vial of PHOTOFRIN® contains 75 mg of porfimer sodium as a sterile freeze-dried cake or powder. Hydrochloric Acid and/or Sodium Hydroxide may be added during manufacture to adjust the pH to within 7.2-7.9. There are no preservatives or other additives. The structural formula below is representative of the components present in PHOTOFRIN®.

Image from Drug Label Content

Photofrin Manufacturers

  • Axcan Scandipharm Inc.
    Photofrin (Porfimer Sodium) Injection, Powder, For Solution [Axcan Scandipharm Inc.]
  • Pinnacle Biologics, Inc.
    Photofrin (Porfimer Sodium) Injection, Powder, For Solution [Pinnacle Biologics, Inc.]

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