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Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and there is no proven medication therapy to treat it. Medical studies suggest a potential role for several therapies, listed below, but further study is needed.

  • Pirfenidone — Data from three large clinical trials of pirfenidone have suggested a benefit in IPF. Pirfenidone appears to slow the rate of decline in lung function by a small amount. This drug is not currently approved for use in the United States but further studies are underway.
  • Acetylcysteine (NAC) — Data from a large study adding acetylcysteine to traditional medication therapies that include prednisone suggest it may help, but there's no consensus on whether or not the results are definitive. Acetylcysteine is available over the counter at most pharmacies and stores that carry supplements.
  • Ongoing studies of other medications for IPF have shown initial promise but need more research.

    Pulmonary rehabilitation — a structured exercise and educational program designed for patients with chronic lung disease — is important for patients with IPF. We will also pay careful attention to any other medical problems associated with IPF, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease and pulmonary hypertension. Lastly, lung transplant may be an effective treatment option for some patients.

    Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

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UCSF Clinics & Centers


Interstitial Lung Disease Program
400 Parnassus Ave., Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 353-2577
Fax: (415) 353-2568
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