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Vincristine (Vincristine Sulfate) - Warnings and Precautions

 
 



WARNINGS

This preparation is for intravenous use only. It should be administered by individuals experienced in the administration of vincristine sulfate injection. The intrathecal administration of vincristine sulfate injection usually results in death. Syringes containing this product should be labeled, using the auxiliary sticker provided, to state “FATAL IF GIVEN INTRATHECALLY. FOR INTRAVENOUS USE ONLY.”

Extemporaneously prepared syringes containing this product must be packaged in an overwrap which is labeled “DO NOT REMOVE COVERING UNTIL MOMENT OF INJECTION. FATAL IF GIVEN INTRATHECALLY. FOR INTRAVENOUS USE ONLY.”

Treatment of patients following intrathecal administration of vincristine sulfate injection has included immediate removal of spinal fluid and flushing with Lactated Ringer’s, as well as other solutions and has not prevented ascending paralysis and death. In one case, progressive paralysis in an adult was arrested by the following treatment initiated immediately after the intrathecal injection:

  1. As much spinal fluid was removed as could be safely done through lumbar access.
  2. The subarachnoid space was flushed with Lactated Ringer’s solution infused continuously through a catheter in a cerebral lateral ventricle at the rate of 150 mL/h. The fluid was removed through a lumbar access.
  3. As soon as fresh frozen plasma became available, the fresh frozen plasma, 25 mL, diluted in 1 L of Lactated Ringer’s solution was infused through the cerebral ventricular catheter at the rate of 75 mL/h with removal through the lumbar access. The rate of infusion was adjusted to maintain a protein level in the spinal fluid of 150 mg/dL.
  4. Glutamic acid, 10 g, was given intravenously over 24 hours followed by 500 mg 3 times daily by mouth for 1 month or until neurological dysfunction stabilized. The role of glutamic acid in this treatment is not certain and may not be essential.
 

PRECAUTIONS

General

Acute uric acid nephropathy, which may occur after the administration of oncolytic agents, has also been reported with vincristine sulfate. In the presence of leukopenia or a complicating infection, administration of the next dose of vincristine sulfate injection warrants careful consideration.

If central nervous system leukemia is diagnosed, additional agents may be required, because vincristine does not appear to cross the blood–brain barrier in adequate amounts.

Particular attention should be given to dosage and neurologic side effects if vincristine sulfate injection is administered to patients with preexisting neuromuscular disease and when other drugs with neurotoxic potential are also being used.

Acute shortness of breath and severe broncospasm have been reported following the administration of vinca alkaloids. These reactions have been encountered most frequently when the vinca alkaloid was used in combination with mitomycin–C and may require aggressive treatment, particularly when there is preexisting pulmonary dysfunction. The onset of these reactions may occur minutes to several hours after the vinca alkaloid is injected and may occur up to 2 weeks following the dose of mitomycin. Progressive dyspnea requiring chronic therapy may occur. Vincristine sulfate should not be readministered.

Care must be taken to avoid contamination of the eye with concentration of vincristine sulfate injection used clinically. If accidental contamination occurs severe irritation (or, if the drug was delivered under pressure, even corneal ulceration) may result. The eye should be washed immediately and thoroughly.

Laboratory Tests

Because dose–limiting clinical toxicity is manifested as neurotoxicity clinical evaluation (e.g., history, physical examination) is necessary to detect the need for dosage modification. Following administration of vincristine sulfate injection, some individuals may have a fall in the white blood cell count or platelet count, particularly when previous therapy or the disease itself has reduced bone–marrow function. Therefore, a complete blood count should be done before administration of each dose. Acute elevation of serum uric acid may also occur during induction of remission in acute leukemia; thus, such levels should be determined frequently during the first 3 to 4 weeks of treatment or appropriate measures taken to prevent uric acid nephropathy. The laboratory performing these tests should be consulted for its range of normal values.

Drug Interactions

The simultaneous oral or intravenous administration of phenytoin and antineoplastic chemotherapy combinations that included vincristine sulfate has been reported to reduce blood levels of the anticonvulsant and to increase seizure activity. Dosage adjustment should be based on serial blood level monitoring. The contribution of vincristine sulfate to this interaction is not certain. The interaction may result from reduced absorption of phenytoin and an increase in the rate of its metabolism and elimination.

Caution should be exercised in patients concurrently taking drugs known to inhibit drug metabolism by hepatic cytochrome P450 isoenzymes in the CYP 3A subfamily, or in patients with hepatic dysfunction. Concurrent administration of vincristine sulfate with itraconazole (a known inhibitor of the metabolic pathway) has been reported to cause an earlier onset and/or an increased severity of neuromuscular side effects (see Adverse Reactions). This interaction is presumed to be related to inhibition of the metabolism of vincristine.

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Neither in vivo nor in vitro laboratory tests have conclusively demonstrated the mutagenicity of this product. Fertility following treatment with vincristine sulfate alone for malignant disease has not been studied in humans. Clinical reports of both male and female patients who received multiple–agent chemotherapy that included vincristine sulfate indicate that azoospermia and amenorrhea can occur in postpubertal patients. Recovery occurred many months after completion of chemotherapy in some but not all patients. When the same treatment is administered to prepubertal patients, permanent azoospermia and amenorrhea are much less likely.

Patients who received chemotherapy with vincristine sulfate in combination with anti–cancer drugs known to be carcinogenic have developed second malignancies. The contributing role of vincristine sulfate in this development has not been determined. No evidence of carcinogenicity was found following intraperitoneal administration of vincristine sulfate in rats and mice, although this study was limited.

Usage in Pregnancy

Pregnancy Category D. See Warnings.

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 due to vincristine sulfate in nursing infants, a decision should be made either to discontinue nursing or the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use

See Dosage and Administration section.

Page last updated: 2009-05-22

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