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Gemzar (Gemcitabine Hydrochloride) - Warnings and Precautions

 
 



WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS

Schedule-dependent Toxicity

In clinical trials evaluating the maximum tolerated dose of Gemzar, prolongation of the infusion time beyond 60 minutes or more frequent than weekly dosing resulted in an increased incidence of clinically significant hypotension, severe flu-like symptoms, myelosuppression, and asthenia. The half-life of Gemzar is influenced by the length of the infusion [see Clinical Pharmacology ].

Myelosuppression

Myelosuppression manifested by neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and anemia occurs with Gemzar as a single agent and the risks are increased when Gemzar is combined with other cytotoxic drugs. In clinical trials, Grade 3-4 neutropenia, anemia, and thrombocytopenia occurred in 25%, 8%, and 5%, respectively of patients receiving single-agent Gemzar. The frequencies of Grade 3-4 neutropenia, anemia, and thrombocytopenia varied from 48% to 71%, 8 to 28%, and 5 to 55%, respectively, in patients receiving Gemzar in combination with another drug.

Pulmonary Toxicity and Respiratory Failure

Pulmonary toxicity, including interstitial pneumonitis, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary edema, and adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), has been reported. In some cases, these pulmonary events can lead to fatal respiratory failure despite discontinuation of therapy. The onset of pulmonary symptoms may occur up to 2 weeks after the last dose of Gemzar. Discontinue Gemzar in patients who develop unexplained dyspnea, with or without bronchospasm, or have any evidence of pulmonary toxicity [see Adverse Reactions (6.1 and 6.2)].

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

Hemolytic uremic syndrome, including fatalities from renal failure or the requirement for dialysis, can occur in patients treated with Gemzar. In clinical trials, HUS was reported in 6 of 2429 patients (0.25%). Most fatal cases of renal failure were due to HUS [see Adverse Reactions (6.1 and 6.2)]. Assess renal function prior to initiation of Gemzar and periodically during treatment. Consider the diagnosis of HUS in patients who develops anemia with evidence of microangiopathic hemolysis, elevation of bilirubin or LDH, or reticulocytosis; severe thrombocytopenia; or evidence of renal failure (elevation of serum creatinine or BUN) [see Dosage and Administration and Use in Specific Populations]. Permanently discontinue Gemzar in patients with HUS or severe renal impairment. Renal failure may not be reversible even with discontinuation of therapy.

Hepatic Toxicity

Drug-induced liver injury, including liver failure and death, has been reported in patients receiving Gemzar alone or in combination with other potentially hepatotoxic drugs [see Adverse Reactions (6.1 and 6.2)]. Administration of Gemzar in patients with concurrent liver metastases or a pre-existing medical history or hepatitis, alcoholism, or liver cirrhosis can lead to exacerbation of the underlying hepatic insufficiency [see Use in Specific Populations ]. Assess hepatic function prior to initiation of Gemzar and periodically during treatment. Discontinue Gemzar in patients that develop severe liver injury.

Embryofetal Toxicity

Gemzar can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman, based on its mechanism of action. Gemcitabine was teratogenic, embryotoxic, and fetotoxic in mice and rabbits. If this drug is used during pregnancy, or if a woman becomes pregnant while taking Gemzar, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to a fetus [see Use in Specific Populations].

Exacerbation of Radiation Therapy Toxicity

Gemzar is not indicated for use in combination with radiation therapy.

Concurrent (given together or ≤7 days apart) — Life-threatening mucositis, especially esophagitis and pneumonitis occurred in a trial in which Gemzar was administered at a dose of 1000 mg/m2 to patients with non-small cell lung cancer for up to 6 consecutive weeks concurrently with thoracic radiation.

Non-concurrent (given >7 days apart) — Excessive toxicity has not been observed when Gemzar is administered more than 7 days before or after radiation. Radiation recall has been reported in patients who receive Gemzar after prior radiation.

Capillary Leak Syndrome

Capillary leak syndrome (CLS) with severe consequences has been reported in patients receiving Gemzar as a single agent or in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents. Discontinue Gemzar if CLS develops during therapy.

Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome

Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES) has been reported in patients receiving Gemzar as a single agent or in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents. PRES can present with headache, seizure, lethargy, hypertension, confusion, blindness, and other visual and neurologic disturbances. Confirm the diagnosis of PRES with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and discontinue Gemzar if PRES develops during therapy.

USE IN SPECIFIC POPULATIONS

Pregnancy

Pregnancy Category D. [See Warnings and Precautions ].

Risk Summary

Gemzar can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Based on its mechanism of action, Gemzar is expected to result in adverse reproductive effects. Gemcitabine was teratogenic, embryotoxic, and fetotoxic in mice and rabbits. If Gemzar is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking Gemzar, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to a fetus.

Animal Data

Gemcitabine is embryotoxic causing fetal malformations (cleft palate, incomplete ossification) at doses of 1.5 mg/kg/day in mice (approximately 0.005 times the recommended human dose on a mg/m2 basis). Gemcitabine is fetotoxic causing fetal malformations (fused pulmonary artery, absence of gall bladder) at doses of 0.1 mg/kg/day in rabbits (about 0.002 times the recommended human dose on a mg/m2 basis). Embryotoxicity was characterized by decreased fetal viability, reduced live litter sizes, and developmental delays. [See Warnings and Precautions].

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from Gemzar, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use

The safety and effectiveness of Gemzar have not been established in pediatric patients. The safety and pharmacokinetics of gemcitabine were evaluated in a trial in pediatric patients with refractory leukemia. The maximum tolerated dose was 10 mg/m2/min for 360 minutes three times weekly followed by a one-week rest period. The safety and activity of Gemzar were evaluated in a trial of pediatric patients with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (22 patients) and acute myelogenous leukemia (10 patients) at a dose of 10 mg/m2/min administered over 360 minutes three times weekly followed by a one-week rest period. Toxicities observed included bone marrow suppression, febrile neutropenia, elevation of serum transaminases, nausea, and rash/desquamation. No meaningful clinical activity was observed in this trial.

Geriatric Use

In clinical studies of GEMZAR, enrolling 979 patients with various cancers who received GEMZAR as a single agent, no overall differences in safety were observed between patients aged 65 and older and younger patients, with the exception of a higher rate of Grade 3-4 thrombocytopenia in older patients as compared to younger patients. In a randomized trial in women with ovarian cancer, 175 women received GEMZAR plus carboplatin, of which 29% were age 65 years or older. Similar effectiveness was observed between older and younger women. There was significantly higher Grade 3/4 neutropenia in women 65 years of age or older.

GEMZAR clearance is affected by age, however there are no recommended dose adjustments based on patients' age [see Clinical Pharmacology ].

Renal Impairment

No clinical studies have been conducted with gemcitabine in patients with decreased renal function.

Hepatic Impairment

No clinical studies have been conducted with gemcitabine in patients with decreased hepatic function.

Gender

Gemzar clearance is affected by gender [see Clinical Pharmacology]. In single-agent studies of Gemzar, women, especially older women, were more likely not to proceed to a subsequent cycle and to experience Grade 3/4 neutropenia and thrombocytopenia.

Page last updated: 2014-06-10

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