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Levlite (Levonorgestrel / Ethinyl Estradiol) - Description and Clinical Pharmacology

 
 



DESCRIPTION

LEVLITE® 28 tablets

Each cycle of LEVLITE® 28 (levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol tablets, USP) consists of 21 pink active tablets each containing 0.100 mg levonorgestrel and 0.020 mg ethinyl estradiol; and seven white tablets - inert. The inactive ingredients are Calcium Carbonate USP, Corn Starch NF, Ferric Oxide/red/E 172 NF, Ferric Oxide/yellow/E 172 NF, Glycerin 85% Ph. Eur./DAB, Lactose Monohydrate NF, Magnesium Stearate NF, Montanglycol Wax (Wax E) DAB, Polyethylene glycol 6,000 NF, Povidone 25,000 USP, Povidone 700,000 USP, Pregelatinized Starch NF (Modified Starch), Sucrose NF, Talc USP and Titanium Dioxide, E 171 USP.

TRI-LEVLEN® 21 tablets

Each cycle of TRI-LEVLEN® 21 (Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets--Triphasic Regimen) tablets consists of three different drug phases as follows: Phase 1 comprised of 6 brown film-coated tablets, each containing 0.050 mg of levonorgestrel (d)(-)-13 beta-ethyl-17-alpha-ethinyl-17-beta-hydroxygon-4-en-3-one), a totally synthetic progestogen, and 0.030 mg of ethinyl estradiol (19-nor-17(alpha)-pregna-1,3,5(10)-trien-20-yne-3, 17-diol); phase 2 comprised of 5 white film-coated tablets, each containing 0.075 mg levonorgestrel and 0.040 mg ethinyl estradiol; and, phase 3 comprised of 10 light-yellow film-coated tablets, each containing 0.125 mg levonorgestrel and 0.030 mg ethinyl estradiol. The inactive ingredients present are cellulose, iron oxides, lactose, magnesium stearate, polacrilin potassium, polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide, and hydroxypropyl methylcellulose.

TRI-LEVLEN® 28 tablets

Each cycle of TRI-LEVLEN® 28 (Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets--Triphasic Regimen) tablets consists of three different drug phases as follows: Phase 1 comprised of 6 brown film-coated tablets, each containing 0.050 mg of levonorgestrel (d)(-)-13 beta-ethyl-17-alpha-ethinyl-17-beta-hydroxygon-4-en-3-one), a totally synthetic progestogen, and 0.030 mg of ethinyl estradiol (19-nor-17 (alpha)-pregna-1,3,5(10)-trien-20-yne-3, 17-diol); phase 2 comprised of 5 white film-coated tablets, each containing 0.075 mg levonorgestrel and 0.040 mg ethinyl estradiol; and phase 3 comprised of 10 light-yellow film-coated tablets, each containing 0.125 mg levonorgestrel and 0.030 mg ethinyl estradiol; then followed by 7 light-green film-coated inert tablets. The inactive ingredients present are cellulose, F D & C Blue 1, iron oxides, lactose, magnesium stearate, polacrilin potassium, polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide, and hydroxypropyl methylcellulose.

LEVLEN® 21 tablets:

Each LEVLEN® 21 tablet (Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets) contains 0.15 mg of levonorgestrel (d)(-)-13 beta-ethyl-17-alpha-ethinyl-17-beta-hydroxygon-4-en-3-one), a totally synthetic progestogen, and 0.03 mg of ethinyl estradiol (19-nor-17 (alpha)-pregna-1,3,5(10)-trien-20-yne-3, 17-diol). The inactive ingredients present are cellulose, FD&C Yellow 6, lactose, magnesium stearate, and polacrillin potassium.

LEVLEN® 28 tablets:

21 light-orange LEVLEN® tablets (Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets), each containing 0.15 mg of levonorgestrel (d)(-)-13 beta-ethyl-17-alpha-ethinyl-17-beta-hydroxygon-4-en-3-one), a totally synthetic progestogen, and 0.03 mg of ethinyl estradiol (19-nor-17 (alpha)-pregna-1,3,5(10)-trien-20-yne-3, 17-diol), and 7 pink inert tablets. The inactive ingredients present are cellulose, D&C Red 30, FD&C Yellow 6, lactose, magnesium stearate, and polacrillin potassium.

Levonorgestrel has a molecular weight of 312.4 and a molecular formula of C21H28O2. Ethinyl estradiol has a molecular weight of 296.4 and a molecular formula of C20H24O2. The structural formulas are as follows:

CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY

Combination oral contraceptives act by suppression of gonadotropins. Although the primary mechanism of this action is inhibition of ovulation, other alterations include changes in the cervical mucus (which increase the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus) and the endometrium (which reduce the likelihood of implantation).

PHARMACOKINETICS OF LEVLITE®

ABSORPTION

No specific investigation of the absolute bioavailability of levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol of LEVLITE® in humans has been conducted. However, literature indicates that levonorgestrel is rapidly and completely absorbed after oral administration and is not subject to first-pass metabolism. Ethinyl estradiol is rapidly and almost completely absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract but, due to first-pass metabolism in gut mucosa and liver, the absolute bioavailability of ethinyl estradiol is about 40%.

After a single dose of three LEVLITE® Tablets to 17 women under fasting conditions, the extent of absorption of levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol were 98.6% and 99.0%, respectively, relative to the same dose of the 2 drugs when given as a microcrystalline suspension in water. The effect of food on the bioavailability of LEVLITE® Tablets following oral administration has not been evaluated.

The pharmacokinetics of levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol following daily administration of LEVLITE® Tablets for 21 days per cycle for three cycles, were determined in 18 women. Estimates of the pharmacokinetic parameters of levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol following single and multiple dose administration of LEVLITE® Tablets are summarized in Table I. Mean levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol levels after a single dose and on day 21 at steady state are shown in Figure I.

The pharmacokinetics of total levonorgestrel are non-linear due to an increase in binding to SHBG, which is attributed to increased SHBG levels that are induced by the daily administration of ethinyl estradiol. Increased binding of levonorgestrel to SHBG leads to decreased clearance of levonorgestrel. Observed maximum levonorgestrel concentrations increased from day 1 to day 21 of the 1st and 3rd cycles by 66% and 83%, respectively.


In calculating the mean concentration for ethinyl estradiol, any individual subject value below the quantifiable limit (i.e., 20 pg/mL) was converted to 0; and the 0 values were included for calculation of the mean concentration.

Table I provides a summary of levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol pharmacokinetic parameters.

TABLE I MEAN (SD) PHARMACOKINETIC PARAMETERS OF LEVLITE® AFTER SINGLE DOSE AND AFTER MULTIPLE DOSING FOR 3 CYCLES
Levonorgestrel
Day
(cycle)
Cmax
ng/mL
tmax
h
AUC
ng·h/mL
CL/F
mL/min/kg
Vz
L
SHBG
nmol/L
1 2.36 (0.79) 1.3 (0.4) 29.2 (10.0) 1.0 (0.3) 129 (46) 64.5 (22.0)
AUC (0-24h)
ng·h/mL
21 (1) 4.04 (2.08) 1.0 (0.3) 43.8 (22.4) 0.73 (0.34) 106 (42) 94.7 (37.4)
21 (3) 4.53 (1.94) 1.0 (0.3) 49.5 (24.5) 0.65 (0.33) 96 (35) 107.4 (45.8)
Ethinyl Estradiol
Day
(cycle)
Cmax
pg/mL
tmax
h
AUC(0-24)
pg·h/mL
1 49.5 (13.4) 1.5 (0.4) 298 (215)
21 (1) 66.2 (29.5) 1.4 (0.4) 596 (494)
21 (3) 58.1 (19.3) 1.4 (0.3) 417 (289)
Cmax = maximum concentration
tmax = time to maximum concentration
AUC = area under the drug concentration curve from time 0 to infinity
CL/f = oral clearance
Vz = volume of distribution
SHBG = sex hormone binding globulin
AUC (0-24) = area under the drug concentration time curve from time 0 to 24 hours; this represents the area for one dosing interval at steady state.

DISTRIBUTION

Levonorgestrel in serum is primarily bound to SHBG. Protein binding values for levonorgestrel are provided in Table II. Ethinyl estradiol is about 97% bound to plasma albumin. Ethinyl estradiol does not bind to SHBG, but induces SHBG synthesis.

TABLE II. Protein binding (mean ± SD) of levonorgestrel in pools of serum samples collected from 18 women after a single dose of LEVLITE®, and following administration (once daily) over 3x21 days.
Parameter Single Dose Cycle 2 Cycle 4
% free 1.11 (0.27) 0.79 (0.22) 0.80 (0.23)
% SHBG-bound 64.5 (8.54) 75.6 (6.59) 74.7 (7.89)
% albumin-bound 34.4 (8.28) 23.6 (6.41) 24.5 (7.67)

METABOLISM

Levonorgestrel: The most important metabolic pathway occurs in the reduction of the (DELTA)4-3-oxo group and hydroxylation at positions 2(alpha), 1(beta), and 16(beta), followed by conjugation. Most of the metabolites that circulate in the blood are sulfates of 3(alpha), 5(beta)-tetrahydro-levonorgestrel, while excretion occurs predominantly in the form of glucuronides. Some of the parent levonorgestrel also circulates as 17(beta)-sulfate. Metabolic clearance rates may differ among individuals by several-fold, and this may account in part for the wide variation in levonorgestrel concentrations among users.

Ethinyl estradiol: Cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYP3A4) in the liver are responsible for the 2-hydroxylation that is the major oxidative reaction. The 2-hydroxy metabolite is further transformed by methylation and glucuronidation prior to urinary and fecal excretion. Levels of Cytochrome P450 (CYP3A) vary widely among individuals and can explain the variation in the rates of ethinyl estradiol 2-hydroxylation. Ethinyl estradiol is excreted in the urine and feces as glucuronide and sulfate conjugates and undergoes enterohepatic circulation.

EXCRETION

The elimination half-life for levonorgestrel after a single dose of LEVLITE® is 25.4 ± 9.7 hours. Levonorgestrel and its metabolites are primarily excreted in the urine. The elimination half-life of ethinyl estradiol has been reported to be between 15 and 25 hours.

SPECIAL POPULATIONS FOR LEVLITE®

HEPATIC INSUFFICIENCY

No formal studies have evaluated the effect of hepatic disease on the disposition of LEVLITE®. However, steroid hormones may be poorly metabolized in patients with impaired liver function.

RENAL INSUFFICIENCY

No formal studies have evaluated the effect of renal disease on the disposition of LEVLITE®.

DRUG-DRUG INTERACTIONS

Interactions between ethinyl estradiol and other drugs have been reported in the literature.

  • Interactions with Absorption. Diarrhea may increase gastrointestinal motility and reduce hormone absorption. Similarly, any drug which reduces gut transit time may reduce hormone concentrations in the blood.
  • Interactions with Metabolism
    Gastrointestinal Wall: Sulfation of ethinyl estradiol has been shown to occur in the gastrointestinal wall. Therefore, drugs which act as competitive inhibitors for sulfation in the gastrointestinal wall may increase ethinyl estradiol bioavailability.
  • Hepatic metabolism: Interactions can occur with drugs that induce microsomal enzymes which can decrease ethinyl estradiol concentrations (e.g., rifampin, barbiturates, phenylbutazone, phenytoin, griseofulvin).
  • Interference with Enterohepatic Circulation: Some clinical reports suggest that enteroheptic circulation of estrogens may decrease when certain antibiotic agents are given, which may reduce ethinyl estradiol concentrations (e.g., ampicillin, tetracycline).
  • Interference in the Metabolism of Other Drugs: Ethinyl estradiol may interfere with the metabolism of other drugs by inhibiting hepatic microsomal enzymes or by inducing hepatic drug conjugation, particularly glucuronidation. Accordingly, plasma and tissue concentrations may either be increased or decreased, respectively (e.g., cyclosporin, theophylline).

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