Pirfenidone: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and Warnings

Pirfenidone is a prescription medicine that is used to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which is a progressive lung disease. It works by reducing inflammation and scarring in the lungs. Pirfenidone is sometimes sold under the brand name Esbriet.

Uses

Pirfenidone is used to treat IPF, a disease that causes the lungs to become scarred and stiff over time. When this happens, it becomes harder for air to flow into and out of the lungs, which can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and fatigue. Pirfenidone helps slow down the progression of IPF by reducing inflammation and scarring in the lungs.

Benefits

The benefits of pirfenidone are significant for people with IPF. Studies have shown that it can help slow down the progression of the disease, which can improve breathing and increase quality of life. In clinical trials, participants who took pirfenidone had better lung function, fewer hospitalizations, and an increased ability to perform daily activities than those who did not take the medication.

Side Effects

As with all medications, pirfenidone can cause side effects. The most common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Less common side effects include skin rash, itching, and sensitivity to sunlight. If you experience any of these side effects, or if they become severe or persistent, contact your health care provider.

Warnings

Before taking pirfenidone, tell your health care provider if you are allergic to it or any other medications. Also, let your health care provider know about any medical conditions you have, especially liver or kidney disease.

It is not known whether pirfenidone can harm an unborn baby, so tell your health care provider if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant. Also, it is not known whether pirfenidone can pass into breast milk, so talk to your health care provider before breastfeeding while taking this medication.

FAQs

Can I take pirfenidone with other medications?

It is important to talk to your health care provider about any medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, before taking pirfenidone.

How long will I need to take pirfenidone?

Your health care provider will determine how long you need to take pirfenidone based on the severity of your IPF and your response to the medication.

Should I take pirfenidone with food?

Yes, you should take pirfenidone with food to help prevent nausea and other stomach-related side effects.

Can pirfenidone cause liver problems?

Pirfenidone can cause liver problems, so let your health care provider know if you have a history of liver disease or if you experience symptoms such as yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, or pain in the upper right side of your abdomen.

Can I drink alcohol while taking pirfenidone?

It is not recommended to drink alcohol while taking pirfenidone, as it can increase the risk of liver problems

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