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Thalomid (Thalidomide) - Warnings and Precautions

 
 



WARNING: EMBRYO-FETAL TOXICITY AND VENOUS THROMBOEMBOLISM

EMBRYO-FETAL TOXICITY

If thalidomide is taken during pregnancy, it can cause severe birth defects or embryo-fetal death. Thalidomide should never be used by females who are pregnant or who could become pregnant while taking the drug. Even a single dose [1 capsule (regardless of strength)] taken by a pregnant woman during her pregnancy can cause severe birth defects.

Because of this toxicity and in an effort to make the chance of embryo-fetal exposure to THALOMID® (thalidomide) as negligible as possible, THALOMID® (thalidomide) is approved for marketing only through a special restricted distribution program: THALOMID REMS™ program, approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This program was formerly known as the “System for Thalidomide Education and Prescribing Safety (S.T.E.P.S. ® program)”.

You can get the information about THALOMID and the THALOMID REMS™ program on the Internet at www.celgeneriskmanagement.com or by calling the manufacturer’s toll-free number 1-888-423-5436.

VENOUS THROMBOEMBOLISM

The use of THALOMID® (thalidomide) in multiple myeloma results in an increased risk of venous thromboembolism, such as deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.  This risk increases significantly when thalidomide is used in combination with standard chemotherapeutic agents including dexamethasone. In one controlled trial, the rate of venous thromboembolism was 22.5% in patients receiving thalidomide in combination with dexamethasone compared to 4.9% in patients receiving dexamethasone alone (p = 0.002). Patients and physicians are advised to be observant for the signs and symptoms of thromboembolism. Instruct patients to seek medical care if they develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or arm or leg swelling. Consider thromboprophylaxis based on an assessment of individual patients’ underlying risk factors.

 

WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS

Embryo-Fetal Toxicity

Thalidomide is a powerful human teratogen that induces a high frequency of severe and life-threatening birth defects, even after a single dose. Mortality at or shortly after birth has been reported in about 40% of infants. When there is no satisfactory alternative treatment, females of reproductive potential may be treated with thalidomide provided adequate precautions are taken to avoid pregnancy. THALOMID® (thalidomide) is only available through the THALOMID REMS™ program (formerly known as the “S.T.E.P.S.® program”), [see Warnings and Precautions].

Oral ingestion is the only type of maternal thalidomide exposure known to result in drug-associated birth defects. There are no specific data available regarding the reproductive risks of cutaneous absorption or inhalation of thalidomide; however, females of reproductive potential should avoid contact with THALOMID® (thalidomide) Capsules.  THALOMID Capsules should be stored in blister packs until ingestion. If there is contact with non-intact thalidomide capsules or the powder contents, the exposed area should be washed with soap and water.

If healthcare providers or other care givers are exposed to body fluids from patients receiving THALOMID (thalidomide) the exposed area should be washed with soap and water.  Appropriate precautions should be utilized, such as wearing gloves to prevent the potential cutaneous exposure to THALOMID.

Females of Reproductive Potential
Females of reproductive potential must avoid pregnancy for at least 4 weeks before beginning THALOMID therapy, during therapy, during dose interruptions and for at least 4 weeks after completing therapy.

Females must commit either to abstain continuously from heterosexual sexual intercourse or to use two methods of reliable birth control, beginning 4 weeks prior to initiating treatment with THALOMID, during therapy, during dose interruptions and continuing for 4 weeks following discontinuation of THALOMID therapy.

Two negative pregnancy tests must be obtained prior to initiating therapy. The first test should be performed within 10-14 days and the second test within 24 hours prior to prescribing THALOMID therapy and then weekly during the first month, then monthly thereafter in women with regular menstrual cycles or every 2 weeks in women with irregular menstrual cycles [see Use in Specific Populations].

Males
Thalidomide is present in the semen of patients receiving the drug. Therefore, males must always use a latex or synthetic condom during any sexual contact with females of reproductive potential while taking THALOMID and for up to 28 days after discontinuing THALOMID, even if they have undergone a successful vasectomy.   Male patients taking THALOMID must not donate sperm [see Use in Specific Populations].

Blood Donation
Patients must not donate blood during treatment with THALOMID and for 1 month following discontinuation of the drug because the blood might be given to a pregnant female patient whose fetus must not be exposed to THALOMID.

THALOMID REMS™ Program

Because of the embryo-fetal risk [see Warnings and Precautions], THALOMID is available only through a restricted program under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), the THALOMID REMS™ program (formerly known as the “S.T.E.P.S.® ” program).

Required components of the THALOMID REMS™ program include the following:

  • Prescribers must be certified with the THALOMID REMS™ program by enrolling and complying with the REMS requirements.
  • Patients must sign a Patient-Physician Agreement Form and comply with the REMS requirements. In particular, female patients of reproductive potential who are not pregnant must comply with the pregnancy testing and contraception requirements [see Use in Specific Populations] and males must comply with contraception requirements [see Use in Specific Populations].
  • Pharmacies must be certified with the THALOMID REMS™ program, must only dispense to patients who are authorized to receive THALOMID and comply with REMS requirements.

Further information about the THALOMID REMS™ program is available at www.celgeneriskmanagement.com or by telephone at 1-888-423-5436.

Venous and Arterial Thromboembolism

The use of THALOMID in patients with MM results in an increased risk of venous thromboembolism, such as deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. This risk increases significantly when thalidomide is used in combination with standard chemotherapeutic agents including dexamethasone. In one controlled trial, the rate of venous thromboembolism was 22.5% in patients receiving thalidomide in combination with dexamethasone compared to 4.9% in patients receiving dexamethasone alone (p = 0.002).

Ischemic heart disease (11.1%), including myocardial infarction (1.3%), and stroke (cerebrovascular accident, 2.6%) have also occurred in patients with previously untreated MM treated with THALOMID and dexamethasone compared to placebo and dexamethasone (4.7%, 1.7%, and 0.9%, respectively) in one clinical trial [see Adverse Reactions].

Consider thromboprophylaxis based on an assessment of individual patients’ underlying risk factors. Patients and physicians should be observant for the signs and symptoms of thromboembolism. Advise patients to seek immediate medical care if they develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or arm or leg swelling [see Boxed Warning ]. Agents that also may increase the risk of thromboembolism should be used with caution in patients receiving THALOMID [see Drug Interactions].

Drowsiness and Somnolence

Thalidomide frequently causes drowsiness and somnolence. Patients should be instructed to avoid situations where drowsiness may be a problem and not to take other medications that may cause drowsiness without adequate medical advice [see Drug Interactions].  Advise patients as to the possible impairment of mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of hazardous tasks, such as driving a car or operating other complex or dangerous machinery. Dose reductions may be required.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Thalidomide is known to cause nerve damage that may be permanent. Peripheral neuropathy is a common (≥10%) and potentially severe adverse reaction of treatment with thalidomide that may be irreversible. Peripheral neuropathy generally occurs following chronic use over a period of months; however, peripheral neuropathy following relatively short-term use has been reported. The correlation with cumulative dose is unclear. Symptoms may occur some time after thalidomide treatment has been stopped and may resolve slowly or not at all.

Few reports of neuropathy have arisen in the treatment of ENL despite long-term thalidomide treatment. However, the inability clinically to differentiate thalidomide neuropathy from the neuropathy often seen in Hansen’s disease makes it difficult to determine accurately the incidence of thalidomide-related neuropathy in ENL patients treated with thalidomide.

Patients should be examined at monthly intervals for the first 3 months of thalidomide therapy to enable the clinician to detect early signs of neuropathy, which include numbness, tingling or pain in the hands and feet. Patients should be evaluated periodically thereafter during treatment. Patients should be regularly counseled, questioned, and evaluated for signs or symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Consideration should be given to electrophysiological testing, consisting of measurement of sensory nerve action potential (SNAP) amplitudes at baseline and thereafter every 6 months in an effort to detect asymptomatic neuropathy. If symptoms of drug-induced neuropathy develop, thalidomide should be discontinued immediately to limit further damage, if clinically appropriate. Usually, treatment with thalidomide should only be reinitiated if the neuropathy returns to baseline status.

Medications known to be associated with neuropathy should be used with caution in patients receiving thalidomide [see Drug Interactions].

Dizziness and Orthostatic Hypotension

Patients should also be advised that thalidomide may cause dizziness and orthostatic hypotension and that, therefore, they should sit upright for a few minutes prior to standing up from a recumbent position.

Neutropenia

Decreased white blood cell counts, including neutropenia, have been reported in association with the clinical use of thalidomide. Treatment should not be initiated with an absolute neutrophil count (ANC) of <750/mm3. White blood cell count and differential should be monitored on an ongoing basis, especially in patients who may be more prone to neutropenia, such as patients who are HIV-seropositive. If ANC decreases to below 750/mm3 while on treatment, the patient’s medication regimen should be re-evaluated and, if the neutropenia persists, consideration should be given to withholding thalidomide if clinically appropriate.

Increased HIV Viral Load

In a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of thalidomide in an HIV-seropositive patient population, plasma HIV RNA levels were found to increase (median change = 0.42 log10 copies HIV RNA/mL, p = 0.04 compared to placebo). A similar trend was observed in a second, unpublished study conducted in patients who were HIV-seropositive. The clinical significance of this increase is unknown. Both studies were conducted prior to availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy. Until the clinical significance of this finding is further understood, in HIV-seropositive patients, viral load should be measured after the first and third months of treatment and every 3 months thereafter.

Bradycardia

Bradycardia in association with thalidomide use has been reported. Cases of bradycardia have been reported, some required medical interventions. The clinical significance and underlying etiology of the bradycardia noted in some thalidomide-treated patients are presently unknown.  Monitor patients for bradycardia and syncope. Dose reduction or discontinuation may be required.

Medications known to decrease heart rate should be used with caution in patients receiving thalidomide [see Drug Interactions].

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis

Serious dermatologic reactions including Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis, which may be fatal, have been reported. THALOMID should be discontinued if a skin rash occurs and only resumed following appropriate clinical evaluation. If the rash is exfoliative, purpuric, or bullous or if Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis is suspected, use of THALOMID should not be resumed.

Seizures

Although not reported from pre-marketing controlled clinical trials, seizures, including grand mal convulsions, have been reported during post-approval use of THALOMID in clinical practice. Because these events are reported voluntarily from a population of unknown size, estimates of frequency cannot be made. Most patients had disorders that may have predisposed them to seizure activity, and it is not currently known whether thalidomide has any epileptogenic influence. During therapy with thalidomide, patients with a history of seizures or with other risk factors for the development of seizures should be monitored closely for clinical changes that could precipitate acute seizure activity.

Tumor Lysis Syndrome

Monitor patients at risk of tumor lysis syndrome (e.g., patients with high tumor burden prior to treatment) and take appropriate precautions.

Contraceptive Risks

Some contraceptive methods may pose a higher risk of adverse effects or may be medically contraindicated in some patients treated with THALOMID. Because some patients may develop sudden, severe neutropenia and/or thrombocytopenia, use of an intrauterine device (IUD) or implantable contraception in these patients may carry an increased risk for infection or bleeding either at insertion, removal or during use. Treatment with THALOMID, the presence of an underlying malignancy, and/or use of an estrogen-containing contraceptive can each increase the risk of thromboembolism. It is not known if these risks of thromboembolism are additive. However, they should be taken into consideration when choosing contraceptive methods.

Hypersensitivity

Hypersensitivity to THALOMID has been reported. Signs and symptoms have included the occurrence of erythematous macular rash, possibly associated with fever, tachycardia, and hypotension, and if severe, may necessitate interruption of therapy. If the reaction recurs when dosing is resumed, THALOMID should be discontinued.

USE IN SPECIFIC POPULATIONS

Pregnancy Category X

[see Boxed Warnings and Contraindications]

Risk Summary

THALOMID can cause embryofetal harm when administered to a pregnant female and is contraindicated during pregnancy.

THALOMID is a human teratogen, inducing a high frequency of severe and life-threatening birth defects such as amelia (absence of limbs), phocomelia (short limbs), hypoplasticity of the bones, absence of bones, external ear abnormalities (including anotia, micropinna, small or absent external auditory canals), facial palsy, eye abnormalities (anophthalmos, microphthalmos), and congenital heart defects. Alimentary tract, urinary tract, and genital malformations have also been documented and mortality at or shortly after birth has been reported in about 40% of infants. Even a single dose taken by a pregnant woman can cause birth defects. If this drug is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to a fetus.

If pregnancy does occur during treatment, immediately discontinue the drug. Under these conditions, refer the patient to an obstetrician/gynecologist experienced in reproductive toxicity for further evaluation and counseling. Report any suspected fetal exposure to THALOMID to the FDA via the MedWatch program at 1-800-FDA-1088 and also to Celgene Corporation at 1-888-423-5436.

Animal data

A pre- and postnatal reproductive toxicity study was conducted in pregnant female rabbits. Compound-related increased abortion incidences and elevated fetotoxicity were observed at the lowest oral dose level of 30 mg/kg/day (approximately 1.5-fold the maximum human dose based upon BSA) and all higher dose levels. Neonatal mortality was elevated at oral dose levels to the lactating female rabbits ≥150 mg/kg/day (approximately 7.5-fold the maximum human dose based upon BSA). No delay in postnatal development, including learning and memory functions, were noted at the oral dose level to the lactating female rabbits of 150 mg/kg/day (average thalidomide concentrations in milk ranged from 22 to 36 µg/mL).

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether thalidomide is excreted in human milk. Thalidomide is excreted in the milk of lactating rabbits. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from THALOMID, 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

Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients below the age of 12 years have not been established.

Geriatric Use

One hundred and seventy-six (52%) of 336 patients treated with THALOMID in combination with dexamethasone were ≥ 65 of age while 50 (15%) were ≥75. Patients ≥65 years of age on Study 2 had higher incidences of atrial fibrillation, constipation, fatigue, nausea, hypokalemia, deep venous thrombosis, hyperglycemia, pulmonary embolism, and asthenia compared to patients <65.

Females of Reproductive Potential and Males

THALOMID can cause fetal harm when administered during pregnancy [see Use in Specific Populations]. Females of reproductive potential must avoid pregnancy 4 weeks before therapy, while taking THALOMID, during dose interruptions and for at least 4 weeks after completing therapy.

Females

Females of reproductive potential must commit either to abstain continuously from heterosexual sexual intercourse or to use two methods of reliable birth control simultaneously (one highly effective form of contraception – tubal ligation, IUD, hormonal (birth control pills, injections, hormonal patches, vaginal rings or implants) or partner’s vasectomy and one additional effective contraceptive method – male latex or synthetic condom, diaphragm or cervical cap. Contraception must begin 4 weeks prior to initiating treatment with THALOMID, during therapy, during dose interruptions and continuing for 4 weeks following discontinuation of THALOMID therapy. Reliable contraception is indicated even where there has been a history of infertility, unless due to hysterectomy. Females of reproductive potential should be referred to a qualified provider of contraceptive methods, if needed.

Females of reproductive potential must have 2 negative pregnancy tests before initiating THALOMID. The first test should be performed within 10-14 days, and the second test within 24 hours prior to prescribing THALOMID. Once treatment has started and during dose interruptions, pregnancy testing for females of reproductive potential should occur weekly during the first 4 weeks of use, then pregnancy testing should be repeated every 4 weeks in females with regular menstrual cycles. If menstrual cycles are irregular, the pregnancy testing should occur every 2 weeks. Pregnancy testing and counseling should be performed if a patient misses her period or if there is any abnormality in her menstrual bleeding. THALOMID treatment must be discontinued during this evaluation.

Males

Thalidomide is present in the semen of males who take THALOMID. Therefore, males must always use a latex or synthetic condom during any sexual contact with females of reproductive potential while taking THALOMID, during dose interruptions and for up to 28 days after discontinuing THALOMID, even if they have undergone a successful vasectomy. Male patients taking THALOMID must not donate sperm.

Renal Impairment

No clinical studies were conducted with THALOMID in patients with mild, moderate or severe renal function.  Renal impairment is not expected to influence drug exposure since <3.5% of the dose is excreted in the urine as unchanged drug.

In a study of 6 patients with end-stage renal disease, thalidomide (200 mg/day) was administered on a non-dialysis day and on a dialysis day and blood samples for pharmacokinetics were collected at least 10 hours following the dose.  Comparison of concentration-time profiles on a non-dialysis day and during dialysis showed that the mean total clearance increased by a 2.5-fold during hemodialysis. Because the dialysis was performed 10 hours following administration of the dose, the drug-concentration time curves were not statistically significantly different for days patients were on and off of dialysis. In addition, there were no major differences in thalidomide PK between patients with end-stage renal disease and healthy volunteers. Thus, no dosage adjustment is needed for patients with renal impairment or patients on dialysis.

Hepatic Impairment

No clinical studies have been conducted in patients with hepatic impairment.

Page last updated: 2014-06-24

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