Reviewed by Jeffrey James Swigris, DO, MS

There are two medications that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of IPF: nintedanib and pirfenidone. 

Both are considered anti-fibrotic drugs, meaning that they can help reduce new lung scarring. These drugs are not a cure, and they do not stop progression of IPF. However, they have been shown to slow its progression.

 

Medications

Pirfenidone (Esbriet®)

Pirfenidone is an oral medication taken three times daily. Pirfenidone slows the progression of disease for some people with IPF.

Some side effects include:

Nausea, loss of appetite, stomach upset and photosensitivity (a tendency to easily develop sunburn or rash when exposed to the sun)

 

Nintedanib (OFEV®)

Nintedanib is an oral medication taken twice daily. It is a triple kinase inhibitor that blocks several pathways that lead to the development of fibrosis. Like pirfenidone, nintedanib slows the progression of disease for some people with IPF.

Some side effects include:

Diarrhea, and less often, nausea and vomiting.

 

Should I take an anti-fibrotic for IPF? And how am I monitored if I do?

The decision to treat people with IPF involves a careful weighing of the potential risks and benefits of therapy. The potential benefits often outweigh the risk from the medication side effects. Neither medication is recommended over the other, but one may work best for you. Your doctor will work with you to prescribe treatment tailored to your individual needs.

Because of the potential side effects of anti-fibrotic medications, your doctor will carefully monitor you while on therapy. This will include routine blood work to assess your liver. 

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