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Verteporfin (Systemic)

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Verteporfin (Systemic)

US Brand Names

• Visudyne

Canadian Brand Names

• Visudyne

Another commonly used name is benzoporphyrin derivative.


Verteporfin (ver-te-POR-fin) is used together with a special laser light, to treat abnormal blood vessel formation in a part of the eye which, if left untreated, can lead to a loss of eyesight.

Verteporfin may also be used for the following problems:

    • Pathologic myopia (changes in the eyeball causing vision problems);

    • Ocular histoplasmosis (damage to the eye from a fungus found in the soil)

This medicine is to be administered only by or under the immediate supervision of your doctor. It is available in the following dosage forms:


    • Injection (U.S. and Canada)

Special Considerations

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of using the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For verteporfin, the following should be considered:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to verteporfin. Also, tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as foods or preservatives.


Verteporfin has not been studied in pregnant women. However, it has caused harm to the fetus in animals. Special Considerations, make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or if you may become pregnant.


It is not known whether verteporfin passes into breast milk. Although most medicines pass into breast milk in small amounts, many of them may be used safely while breast-feeding. Mothers who are taking this medicine and who wish to breast-feed should discuss this with their doctor.


Studies on this medicine have been done only in adult patients, and there is no specific information comparing use of verteporfin in children with use in other age groups.

Older adults

Studies show that the effects of verteporfin are less in patients 75 years of age or older.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose or other precautions may be necessary. When you are using verteporfin, it is especially important that your health care professional know if you are taking any of the following:

    • Calcium channel blocking agents (medicine class for blood pressure) or

    • Polymyxin B (antibiotic in eye preparations) or

    • Radiation therapy-Use of these medicines with verteporfin may increase the effects of verteporfin

    • Alcohol or

    • Antioxidant vitamins and minerals (e.g., Beta-carotene) or

    • Dimethyl sulfoxide (e.g., DMSO, Rimso-50) or

    • Medications that decrease blood clotting and blood vessel constriction-The effects of verteporfin may be decreased

    • Antidiabetics, oral (diabetes medicine you take by mouth) or

    • Griseofulvin (e.g., Fulvicin, Gris-PEG) or

    • Phenothiazines (antipsychotic medications) or

    • Sulfonamides (sulfa medicine) or

    • Tetracyclines (medicine for infection) or

    • Thiazide diuretics (water pills)-Use with verteporfin may increase the sensitivity of skin to light

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of verteporfin. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

    • Liver function impairment

    • Porphyria-Sensitivity to light may be increased

    • Previous reaction to verteporfin-Reaction is more likely to occur again


Treatment with verteporfin and laser light occurs in two steps. First, the verteporfin is injected into your body. Second, 15 minutes later, a laser light is directed at the affected eye.


The dose of verteporfin will be different for different patients depending on your body surface area. Laser light treatment must follow verteporfin injection 15 minutes after the start of the injection . The laser light treatment lasts 83 seconds. If you have any questions about the proper dose of verteporfin, ask your doctor.

Precautions After Receiving This Medicine

For 5 days after you receive an injection of verteporfin, your eyes will be extra sensitive to light, including sunlight and bright indoor lights. Certain types of sunglasses can help protect your eyes during this time. Check with your doctor about which sunglasses to use .

For 5 days after you receive an injection of verteporfin, your skin will be extra sensitive to sunlight and to very bright indoor lights, such as tanning lamps, bright halogen lighting and lights in dental offices or operating rooms. Do not expose your skin to direct sunlight or to bright indoor lights during this time . Sunscreens will not protect your skin from a severe reaction to light (blistering, burning, and swelling of the skin). However, exposure to normal amounts of indoor light (for example, daylight or light from lamps with shades) will help clear up the verteporfin remaining in your skin. Therefore, do not protect your skin from normal amounts of indoor light . If you have any questions about whether the light in your home is too bright, check with your doctor or nurse. If you do have a severe reaction to light, call your doctor immediately.

Side Effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common

Blurred vision or other change in vision.

Less common

Decrease in vision, may be severe; dizziness; dull nervousness; eye pain; fainting; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; itching, redness, or other irritation of eye; pale skin; pounding in the ears; troubled breathing on exertion; unusual bleeding or bruising; unusual tiredness or weakness.

Other side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away after treatment as your body eliminates the medicine. However, check with your doctor if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome.

More common

Bleeding, blistering, burning, coldness, discoloration of skin, feeling of pressure, infection, itching, numbness, pain, rash, redness, scarring, stinging, swelling, tenderness, tingling, ulceration, and/or warmth at the injection site; headache.

Less common

Back pain (during infusion of verteporfin); chills; cloudy urine; constipation; cough; decreased hearing; decreased sensitivity to touch; diarrhea; difficult or painful urination; difficulty in moving; double vision; dry eyes; feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings; fever; general feeling of discomfort or illness; hoarseness; increased sensitivity of skin to sunlight; joint pain; light headedness; loss of appetite; loss of strength or energy; muscle pain or stiffness; nausea; pain, swelling, or redness in joints; pelvic discomfort; redness or other discoloration of skin; runny nose; severe sunburn; shivering; skin rash; sore throat; sweating; tearing; tender, swollen glands in neck; throat congestion; trouble in sleeping; trouble in swallowing; trouble sleeping; varicose veins; voice changes; vomiting.

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor.

December 17, 2001

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