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Viramune (Nevirapine) - Warnings and Precautions

 
 



WARNING: LIFE-THREATENING (INCLUDING FATAL) HEPATOTOXICITY and SKIN REACTIONS

HEPATOTOXICITY:

Severe, life-threatening, and in some cases fatal hepatotoxicity, particularly in the first 18 weeks, has been reported in patients treated with VIRAMUNE. In some cases, patients presented with non-specific prodromal signs or symptoms of hepatitis and progressed to hepatic failure. These events are often associated with rash. Female gender and higher CD4 counts at initiation of therapy place patients at increased risk; women with CD4 counts >250 cells/mm3, including pregnant women receiving VIRAMUNE in combination with other antiretrovirals for the treatment of HIV infection, are at the greatest risk. However, hepatotoxicity associated with VIRAMUNE use can occur in both genders, all CD4 counts and at any time during treatment. Patients with signs or symptoms of hepatitis, or with increased transaminases combined with rash or other systemic symptoms, must discontinue VIRAMUNE and seek medical evaluation immediately [ see Warnings and Precautions ].

SKIN REACTIONS:

Severe, life-threatening skin reactions, including fatal cases, have occurred in patients treated with VIRAMUNE. These have included cases of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and hypersensitivity reactions characterized by rash, constitutional findings, and organ dysfunction. Patients developing signs or symptoms of severe skin reactions or hypersensitivity reactions must discontinue VIRAMUNE and seek medical evaluation immediately. Transaminase levels should be checked immediately for all patients who develop a rash in the first 18 weeks of treatment. The 14-day lead-in period with VIRAMUNE 200 mg daily dosing has been observed to decrease the incidence of rash and must be followed [ see Warnings and Precautions ].

MONITORING:

Patients must be monitored intensively during the first 18 weeks of therapy with VIRAMUNE to detect potentially life-threatening hepatotoxicity or skin reactions. Extra vigilance is warranted during the first 6 weeks of therapy, which is the period of greatest risk of these events. Do not restart VIRAMUNE following severe hepatic, skin or hypersensitivity reactions. In some cases, hepatic injury has progressed despite discontinuation of treatment.

 

WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS

The most serious adverse reactions associated with VIRAMUNE are hepatitis/hepatic failure, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and hypersensitivity reactions. Hepatitis/hepatic failure may be associated with signs of hypersensitivity which can include severe rash or rash accompanied by fever, general malaise, fatigue, muscle or joint aches, blisters, oral lesions, conjunctivitis, facial edema, eosinophilia, granulocytopenia, lymphadenopathy, or renal dysfunction.

The first 18 weeks of therapy with VIRAMUNE are a critical period during which intensive clinical and laboratory monitoring of patients is required to detect potentially life-threatening hepatic events and skin reactions. The optimal frequency of monitoring during this time period has not been established. Some experts recommend clinical and laboratory monitoring more often than once per month, and in particular, would include monitoring of liver enzyme tests at baseline, prior to dose escalation and at two weeks post-dose escalation. After the initial 18 week period, frequent clinical and laboratory monitoring should continue throughout VIRAMUNE treatment. In addition, the 14-day lead-in period with VIRAMUNE 200 mg daily dosing has been demonstrated to reduce the frequency of rash [ see Dosage and Administration ].

Hepatotoxicity and Hepatic Impairment

Severe, life-threatening, and in some cases fatal hepatotoxicity, including fulminant and cholestatic hepatitis, hepatic necrosis and hepatic failure, have been reported in patients treated with VIRAMUNE. In controlled clinical trials, symptomatic hepatic events regardless of severity occurred in 4% (range 0% to 11.0%) of patients who received VIRAMUNE and 1.2% of patients in control groups.

The risk of symptomatic hepatic events regardless of severity was greatest in the first 6 weeks of therapy. The risk continued to be greater in the VIRAMUNE groups compared to controls through 18 weeks of treatment. However, hepatic events may occur at any time during treatment. In some cases, patients presented with non-specific, prodromal signs or symptoms of fatigue, malaise, anorexia, nausea, jaundice, liver tenderness or hepatomegaly, with or without initially abnormal serum transaminase levels. Rash was observed in approximately half of the patients with symptomatic hepatic adverse events. Fever and flu-like symptoms accompanied some of these hepatic events. Some events, particularly those with rash and other symptoms, have progressed to hepatic failure with transaminase elevation, with or without hyperbilirubinemia, hepatic encephalopathy, prolonged partial thromboplastin time, or eosinophilia. Rhabdomyolysis has been observed in some patients experiencing skin and/or liver reactions associated with VIRAMUNE use. Patients with signs or symptoms of hepatitis must be advised to discontinue VIRAMUNE and immediately seek medical evaluation, which should include liver enzyme tests.

Transaminases should be checked immediately if a patient experiences signs or symptoms suggestive of hepatitis and/or hypersensitivity reaction. Transaminases should also be checked immediately for all patients who develop a rash in the first 18 weeks of treatment. Physicians and patients should be vigilant for the appearance of signs or symptoms of hepatitis, such as fatigue, malaise, anorexia, nausea, jaundice, bilirubinuria, acholic stools, liver tenderness or hepatomegaly. The diagnosis of hepatotoxicity should be considered in this setting, even if transaminases are initially normal or alternative diagnoses are possible [ see Boxed Warning, Dosage and Administration , and Patient Counseling Information ].

If clinical hepatitis or transaminase elevations combined with rash or other systemic symptoms occur, VIRAMUNE should be permanently discontinued. Do not restart VIRAMUNE after recovery. In some cases, hepatic injury progresses despite discontinuation of treatment.

The patients at greatest risk of hepatic events, including potentially fatal events, are women with high CD4 counts. In general, during the first 6 weeks of treatment, women have a three fold higher risk than men for symptomatic, often rash-associated, hepatic events (5.8% versus 2.2%), and patients with higher CD4 counts at initiation of VIRAMUNE therapy are at higher risk for symptomatic hepatic events with VIRAMUNE. In a retrospective review, women with CD4 counts >250 cells/mm3 had a 12 fold higher risk of symptomatic hepatic adverse events compared to women with CD4 counts <250 cells/mm3 (11.0% versus 0.9%). An increased risk was observed in men with CD4 counts >400 cells/mm3 (6.3% versus 1.2% for men with CD4 counts <400 cells/mm3). However, all patients, regardless of gender, CD4 count, or antiretroviral treatment history, should be monitored for hepatotoxicity since symptomatic hepatic adverse events have been reported at all CD4 counts. Co-infection with hepatitis B or C and/or increased transaminase elevations at the start of therapy with VIRAMUNE are associated with a greater risk of later symptomatic events (6 weeks or more after starting VIRAMUNE) and asymptomatic increases in AST or ALT.

In addition, serious hepatotoxicity (including liver failure requiring transplantation in one instance) has been reported in HIV-uninfected individuals receiving multiple doses of VIRAMUNE in the setting of post-exposure prophylaxis, an unapproved use.

Increased nevirapine trough concentrations have been observed in some patients with hepatic fibrosis or cirrhosis. Therefore, patients with either hepatic fibrosis or cirrhosis should be monitored carefully for evidence of drug induced toxicity. Nevirapine should not be administered to patients with moderate or severe (Child Pugh Class B or C, respectively) hepatic impairment [ see Contraindications (4), Use in Specific Populations , and Clinical Pharmacology ].

Skin Reactions

Severe and life-threatening skin reactions, including fatal cases, have been reported, occurring most frequently during the first 6 weeks of therapy. These have included cases of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and hypersensitivity reactions characterized by rash, constitutional findings, and organ dysfunction including hepatic failure. Rhabdomyolysis has been observed in some patients experiencing skin and/or liver reactions associated with VIRAMUNE use. In controlled clinical trials, Grade 3 and 4 rashes were reported during the first 6 weeks in 1.5% of VIRAMUNE recipients compared to 0.1% of placebo subjects.

Patients developing signs or symptoms of severe skin reactions or hypersensitivity reactions (including, but not limited to, severe rash or rash accompanied by fever, general malaise, fatigue, muscle or joint aches, blisters, oral lesions, conjunctivitis, facial edema, and/or hepatitis, eosinophilia, granulocytopenia, lymphadenopathy, and renal dysfunction) must permanently discontinue VIRAMUNE and seek medical evaluation immediately [ see Boxed Warning and Patient Counseling Information ]. Do not restart VIRAMUNE following severe skin rash, skin rash combined with increased transaminases or other symptoms, or hypersensitivity reaction.

If patients present with a suspected VIRAMUNE-associated rash, transaminases should be measured immediately. Patients with rash-associated transaminase elevations should be permanently discontinued from VIRAMUNE [ see Warnings and Precautions ].

Therapy with VIRAMUNE must be initiated with a 14-day lead-in period of 200 mg/day (150 mg/m2/day in pediatric patients), which has been shown to reduce the frequency of rash. VIRAMUNE should be discontinued if a patient experiences severe rash or any rash accompanied by constitutional findings. A patient experiencing a mild to moderate rash without constitutional symptoms during the 14-day lead-in period of 200 mg/day (150 mg/m2/day in pediatric patients) should not have their VIRAMUNE dose increased until the rash has resolved. The total duration of the once daily lead-in dosing period should not exceed 28 days at which point an alternative regimen should be sought [ see Dosage and Administration ]. Patients should be monitored closely if isolated rash of any severity occurs. Delay in stopping VIRAMUNE treatment after the onset of rash may result in a more serious reaction.

Women appear to be at higher risk than men of developing rash with VIRAMUNE.

In a clinical trial, concomitant prednisone use (40 mg/day for the first 14 days of VIRAMUNE administration) was associated with an increase in incidence and severity of rash during the first 6 weeks of VIRAMUNE therapy. Therefore, use of prednisone to prevent VIRAMUNE-associated rash is not recommended.

Resistance

VIRAMUNE must not be used as a single agent to treat HIV or added on as a sole agent to a failing regimen. Resistant virus emerges rapidly when nevirapine is administered as monotherapy. The choice of new antiretroviral agents to be used in combination with nevirapine should take into consideration the potential for cross resistance. When discontinuing an antiretroviral regimen containing VIRAMUNE, the long half-life of nevirapine should be taken into account; if antiretrovirals with shorter half-lives than VIRAMUNE are stopped concurrently, low plasma concentrations of nevirapine alone may persist for a week or longer and virus resistance may subsequently develop [ see Clinical Pharmacology ].

Drug Interactions

See Table 4 for listings of established and potential drug interactions [ see Drug Interactions (7) ].

Concomitant use of St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) or St. John's wort containing products and VIRAMUNE is not recommended. Co-administration of St. John’s wort with non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), including VIRAMUNE, is expected to substantially decrease NNRTI concentrations and may result in sub-optimal levels of VIRAMUNE and lead to loss of virologic response and possible resistance to VIRAMUNE or to the class of NNRTIs.

Immune Reconstitution Syndrome

Immune reconstitution syndrome has been reported in patients treated with combination antiretroviral therapy, including VIRAMUNE. During the initial phase of combination antiretroviral treatment, patients whose immune system responds may develop an inflammatory response to indolent or residual opportunistic infections (such as Mycobacterium avium infection, cytomegalovirus, Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PCP), or tuberculosis), which may necessitate further evaluation and treatment.

Fat Redistribution

Redistribution/accumulation of body fat including central obesity, dorsocervical fat enlargement (buffalo hump), peripheral wasting, facial wasting, breast enlargement, and “cushingoid appearance” have been observed in patients receiving antiretroviral therapy. The mechanism and long-term consequences of these events are currently unknown. A causal relationship has not been established.

USE IN SPECIFIC POPULATIONS

Pregnancy

Teratogenic Effects,Pregnancy Category B.

No observable teratogenicity was detected in reproductive studies performed in pregnant rats and rabbits. The maternal and developmental no-observable-effect level dosages produced systemic exposures approximately equivalent to or approximately 50% higher in rats and rabbits, respectively, than those seen at the recommended daily human dose (based on AUC). In rats, decreased fetal body weights were observed due to administration of a maternally toxic dose (exposures approximately 50% higher than that seen at the recommended human clinical dose).

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of VIRAMUNE in pregnant women. The Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry, which has been surveying pregnancy outcomes since January 1989, has not found an increased risk of birth defects following first trimester exposures to nevirapine. The prevalence of birth defects after any trimester exposure to nevirapine is comparable to the prevalence observed in the general population.

Severe hepatic events, including fatalities, have been reported in pregnant women receiving chronic VIRAMUNE therapy as part of combination treatment of HIV infection. Regardless of pregnancy status women with CD4 counts >250 cells/mm3 should not initiate VIRAMUNE unless the benefit outweighs the risk. It is unclear if pregnancy augments the risk observed in non-pregnant women [ see Boxed Warning ].

VIRAMUNE should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry

To monitor maternal-fetal outcomes of pregnant women exposed to VIRAMUNE, an Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry has been established. Physicians are encouraged to register patients by calling (800) 258-4263.

Nursing Mothers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that HIV-infected mothers not breastfeed their infants to avoid risking postnatal transmission of HIV. Nevirapine is excreted in breast milk. Because of both the potential for HIV transmission and the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, mothers should be instructed not to breastfeed if they are receiving VIRAMUNE.

Pediatric Use

The safety, pharmacokinetic profile, and virologic and immunologic responses of VIRAMUNE have been evaluated in HIV-infected pediatric patients age 3 months to 18 years [ see Adverse Reactions and Clinical Studies ]. The safety and pharmacokinetic profile of VIRAMUNE has been evaluated in HIV-infected pediatric patients age 15 days to < 3 months [ see Adverse Reactions Clinical Studies ].

The most frequently reported adverse events related to VIRAMUNE in pediatric patients were similar to those observed in adults, with the exception of granulocytopenia, which was more commonly observed in children receiving both zidovudine and VIRAMUNE [ see Adverse Reactions and Clinical Studies ]

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of VIRAMUNE did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and older to determine whether elderly subjects respond differently from younger subjects. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.

Renal Impairment

In subjects with renal impairment (mild, moderate or severe), there were no significant changes in the pharmacokinetics of nevirapine. Nevirapine is extensively metabolized by the liver and nevirapine metabolites are extensively eliminated by the kidney. Nevirapine metabolites may accumulate in patients receiving dialysis; however, the clinical significance of this accumulation is not known. No adjustment in nevirapine dosing is required in patients with CrCL ≥20 mL/min. In patients undergoing chronic hemodialysis, an additional 200 mg dose following each dialysis treatment is indicated [ see Dosage and Administration and Clinical Pharmacology ].

Hepatic Impairment

Because increased nevirapine levels and nevirapine accumulation may be observed in patients with serious liver disease, do not administer VIRAMUNE to patients with moderate or severe (Child Pugh Class B or C, respectively) hepatic impairment [ see Contraindications (4), Warnings and Precautions and Clinical Pharmacology ].

Page last updated: 2008-07-09

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