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Porfimer sodium
Accession Number
DB00707  (APRD00078)
Small Molecule
Approved, Investigational

The purified component of hematoporphyrin derivative, it consists of a mixture of oligomeric porphyrins. It is used in photodynamic therapy (hematoporphyrin photoradiation); to treat malignant lesions with visible light and experimentally as an antiviral agent. It is the first drug to be approved in the use of photodynamic therapy in the United States.

  • Porfimer natrium
  • Porfimer sodico
  • Porfimer sodium
  • Porfimère sodique
  • Porfimerum natricum
Prescription Products
NameDosageStrengthRouteLabellerMarketing StartMarketing End
PhotofrinPowder, for solution75 mgIntravenousConcordia Pharmaceuticals, Inc1995-12-312019-07-18Canada
PhotofrinPowder, for solution15 mgIntravenousConcordia Pharmaceuticals, Inc1995-12-312014-11-21Canada
PhotofrinInjection, powder, for solution75 mg/31.8mLIntravenousPinnacle Biologics, Inc.1995-12-27Not applicableUs
PhotofrinInjection, powder, for solution2.5 mg/1mLIntravenousAxcan Scandipharm Inc.2006-09-11Not applicableUs
Additional Data Available
  • Application Number
    Application Number

    A unique ID assigned by the FDA when a product is submitted for approval by the labeller.

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  • Product Code
    Product Code

    A governmentally-recognized ID which uniquely identifies the product within its regulatory market.

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International/Other Brands
PhotoBarr (Axcan) / Photofrin II
CAS number



Indicated in the treatment of esophageal cancer.

Associated Conditions

Porfimer is a photosensitizing agent used in the photodynamic therapy (PDT) of tumors. Porfimer is indicated for the palliation of patients with completely obstructing esophageal cancer, or of patients with partially obstructing esophageal cancer who cannot be satisfactorily treated with Nd:YAG laser therapy, reduction of obstruction and palliation of symptoms in patients with completely or partially obstructing endobronchial nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and the treatment of microinvasive endobronchial NSCLC in patients for whom surgery and radiotherapy are not indicated. The cytotoxic and antitumor actions of porfimer are light and oxygen dependent. Tumor selectivity in treatment occurs through a combination of selective retention of porfimer and selective delivery of light.

Mechanism of action

Cellular damage caused by porfimer is a consequence of the propagation of radical reactions. Radical initiation may occur after porfimer absorbs light to form a porphyrin excited state. Spin transfer from porfimer to molecular oxygen may then generate singlet oxygen. Subsequent radical reactions can form superoxide and hydroxyl radicals. Tumor death also occurs through ischemic necrosis secondary to vascular occlusion that appears to be partly mediated by thromboxane A2 release.

ULow-density lipoprotein receptor
UHigh affinity immunoglobulin gamma Fc receptor I
Additional Data Available
Adverse Effects

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Additional Data Available

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Not Available
Volume of distribution
  • 0.49 ± 0.28 L/kg [2 mg/kg dose of porfimer sodium to 4 male cancer patients]
Protein binding


Not Available
Route of elimination
Not Available
Half life

10-452 hours

  • Renal cl=199.7 +/-  56.9 mL/min [Healthy subjects receiving a single 300-mg oral dose]
Not Available
Affected organisms
  • Humans and other mammals
Not Available
Pharmacogenomic Effects/ADRs
Not Available


Drug Interactions
This information should not be interpreted without the help of a healthcare provider. If you believe you are experiencing an interaction, contact a healthcare provider immediately. The absence of an interaction does not necessarily mean no interactions exist.
AcetophenoneAcetophenone may increase the photosensitizing activities of Porfimer sodium.
Aminolevulinic acidAminolevulinic acid may increase the photosensitizing activities of Porfimer sodium.
BergaptenBergapten may increase the photosensitizing activities of Porfimer sodium.
CarprofenCarprofen may increase the photosensitizing activities of Porfimer sodium.
CyamemazineCyamemazine may increase the photosensitizing activities of Porfimer sodium.
Darbepoetin alfaThe risk or severity of Thrombosis can be increased when Darbepoetin alfa is combined with Porfimer sodium.
Dihematoporphyrin etherDihematoporphyrin ether may increase the photosensitizing activities of Porfimer sodium.
ErythropoietinThe risk or severity of Thrombosis can be increased when Erythropoietin is combined with Porfimer sodium.
HexaminolevulinateHexaminolevulinate may increase the photosensitizing activities of Porfimer sodium.
MethoxsalenMethoxsalen may increase the photosensitizing activities of Porfimer sodium.
Additional Data Available
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Food Interactions
Not Available


General References
Not Available
External Links
PubChem Substance
RxList Drug Page Drug Page
ATC Codes
L01XD01 — Porfimer sodium
AHFS Codes
  • 10:00.00 — Antineoplastic Agents
FDA label
Download (321 KB)

Clinical Trials

Clinical Trials
0Not Yet RecruitingTreatmentLocally Advanced Lung Carcinoma / Lung Cancer Non-Small Cell Cancer (NSCLC) / Small Cell Lung Carcinoma / Stage III Lung Cancer AJCC v8 / Stage IIIA Lung Cancer AJCC v8 / Stage IIIB Lung Cancer AJCC v8 / Stage IIIC Lung Cancer AJCC v81
1CompletedOtherLung Cancer Metastatic / Lung Cancers1
1CompletedTreatmentAcinar Cell Adenocarcinoma of the Pancreas / Duct Cell Adenocarcinoma of the Pancreas / Stage III Pancreatic Cancer1
1CompletedTreatmentLung Cancer Non-Small Cell Cancer (NSCLC) / Lung Metastasis1
1CompletedTreatmentRecurrent Brain Tumors1
1Not Yet RecruitingTreatmentLung Cancer Non-Small Cell Cancer (NSCLC) / Mesothelioma, Malignant / Pleural disorders1
1, 2CompletedTreatmentSuperficial Bladder Cancer1
2CompletedDiagnosticHead and Neck Carcinoma1
2CompletedTreatmentEsophageal Cancers1
2CompletedTreatmentExtrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer / Gallbladder Cancer / Liver Cancer / Malignant Neoplasm of Pancreas1
2CompletedTreatmentHead and Neck Carcinoma / Precancerous/Nonmalignant Condition1
2CompletedTreatmentLung Cancers / Metastatic Cancers1
2CompletedTreatmentMesothelioma, Malignant1
2RecruitingTreatmentEpitheliod Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma1
2RecruitingTreatmentLocally Advanced Head and Neck Carcinoma / Recurrent Head and Neck Carcinoma1
2TerminatedTreatmentRecurrent Brain Tumors1
2TerminatedTreatmentRecurrent Laryngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma / Recurrent Laryngeal Verrucous Carcinoma / Recurrent Lip and Oral Cavity Squamous Cell Carcinoma / Recurrent Metastatic Squamous Cell Carcinoma in the Neck With Occult Primary / Recurrent Oral Cavity Verrucous Carcinoma / Recurrent Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma / Tongue Carcinoma1
3CompletedTreatmentBrain and Central Nervous System Tumors1
3CompletedTreatmentExtrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer / Gallbladder Cancer1
3RecruitingTreatmentStage I Esophageal Adenocarcinoma / Stage I Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma / Stage II Esophageal Adenocarcinoma / Stage II Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma / Stage III Esophageal Adenocarcinoma / Stage III Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma1
3TerminatedTreatmentHilar Cholangiocarcinoma1
3Unknown StatusTreatmentBrain and Central Nervous System Tumors1
3WithdrawnTreatmentCholangiocarcinoma of the Extrahepatic Bile Duct / Cholangiocarcinoma of the Gallbladder / Recurrent Extrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer / Recurrent Gallbladder Cancer / Unresectable Extrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer / Unresectable Gallbladder Cancer1
Not AvailableCompletedNot AvailableLung Cancers1
Not AvailableCompletedTreatmentHepatocellular,Carcinoma / Jaundice, Obstructive1
Not AvailableTerminatedTreatmentHead and Neck Carcinoma1
Not AvailableWithdrawnTreatmentStage III Malignant Mesothelioma / Stage IIIb Non-small Cell Lung Cancer / Stage IV Malignant Mesothelioma / Stage IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer1


  • Axcan pharma us inc
  • Axcan Pharma Inc.
  • Draxis Specialty Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Dosage forms
Injection, powder, for solutionIntravenous2.5 mg/1mL
Injection, powder, for solutionIntravenous75 mg/31.8mL
Powder, for solutionIntravenous15 mg
Powder, for solutionIntravenous75 mg
Unit descriptionCostUnit
Photofrin 75 mg vial3317.04USD vial
DrugBank does not sell nor buy drugs. Pricing information is supplied for informational purposes only.
Patent NumberPediatric ExtensionApprovedExpires (estimated)
Additional Data Available
  • Filed On
    Filed On

    The date on which a patent was filed with the relevant government.

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Experimental Properties
logP2.8Not Available
Predicted Properties
Not Available
Predicted ADMET features
Not Available


Mass Spec (NIST)
Not Available
Not Available


Not classified


Pharmacological action
General Function
Virus receptor activity
Specific Function
Binds LDL, the major cholesterol-carrying lipoprotein of plasma, and transports it into cells by endocytosis. In order to be internalized, the receptor-ligand complexes must first cluster into clat...
Gene Name
Uniprot ID
Uniprot Name
Low-density lipoprotein receptor
Molecular Weight
95375.105 Da
  1. Korbelik M: Low density lipoprotein receptor pathway in the delivery of Photofrin: how much is it relevant for selective accumulation of the photosensitizer in tumors? J Photochem Photobiol B. 1992 Jan;12(1):107-9. [PubMed:1531856]
  2. Tsukagoshi S: [Porfimer sodium (Photofrin-II)]. Gan To Kagaku Ryoho. 1995 Aug;22(9):1271-8. [PubMed:7661580]
  3. Maziere JC, Mora L, Biade S, Maziere C, Santus R: [Potentiation of the photocytotoxic effect of photofrin II: synergistic action of verapamil and lovastatin]. Bull Acad Natl Med. 1994 Jun;178(6):1177-88; discussion 1188-9. [PubMed:7994588]
  4. Candide C, Morliere P, Maziere JC, Goldstein S, Santus R, Dubertret L, Reyftmann JP, Polonovski J: In vitro interaction of the photoactive anticancer porphyrin derivative photofrin II with low density lipoprotein, and its delivery to cultured human fibroblasts. FEBS Lett. 1986 Oct 20;207(1):133-8. [PubMed:2945739]
  5. Maziere JC, Morliere P, Biade S, Santus R: [Antitumor photochemotherapy: biochemical bases, therapeutic uses and perspectives]. C R Seances Soc Biol Fil. 1992;186(1-2):88-106. [PubMed:1450993]
Pharmacological action
General Function
Receptor signaling protein activity
Specific Function
High affinity receptor for the Fc region of immunoglobulins gamma. Functions in both innate and adaptive immune responses.
Gene Name
Uniprot ID
Uniprot Name
High affinity immunoglobulin gamma Fc receptor I
Molecular Weight
42631.525 Da
  1. Krutmann J, Athar M, Mendel DB, Khan IU, Guyre PM, Mukhtar H, Elmets CA: Inhibition of the high affinity Fc receptor (Fc gamma RI) on human monocytes by porphyrin photosensitization is highly specific and mediated by the generation of superoxide radicals. J Biol Chem. 1989 Jul 5;264(19):11407-13. [PubMed:2544592]

Drug created on June 13, 2005 07:24 / Updated on January 18, 2020 13:27