FAQ: Pirfenidone

Why is this medication being recommended?

Pirfenidone (Esbriet) was approved for the treatment of IPF in the fall of 2014. The recommended dose is 801 mg (3 pills) three times daily with food.

Pirfenidone is not a cure for IPF. However, it has been shown to slow the decline of lung function over time.

This medication is available to patients through speciality pharmacies. Additional information can be found at www.esbriet.com.


What special precautions should I follow?

You should take Pirfenidone three times daily with food.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Pirfenidone may cause many side effects. The most common side effects patients experience is nausea/vomiting. Taking this medication with food or using an anti-nauseant medication may help reduce side effects of nausea and/or vomiting. However, if these symptoms persist despite these measures, your doctor may tell you to reduce your dose of Pirfenidone, temporarily stop the medication, or discontinue the medication all together.

Pirfenidone may also cause photosensitivity and/or rash. Always wear sunscreen active against both UVA and UVB to protect you from the sun. Avoid direct sun exposure and wear a hat and long sleeved clothing when outside.

What monitoring will I need?

Before starting treatment with Pirfenidone, your doctor will check your liver function (AST, ALT and bilirubin). Your liver function tests will be checked every month for the first three months you are on the medication. After that, liver function tests should be checked every three months. If your liver function tests become abnormal, your doctor may ask you to reduced your dose, temporarily stop the medication or discontinue it all together.

Your doctor will also monitor your lung function periodically to help assess your response to the medication.


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.