ACITRETIN (Page 5 of 9)

Laboratory Tests:

If significant abnormal laboratory results are obtained, either dosage reduction with careful monitoring or treatment discontinuation is recommended, depending on clinical judgment.

Blood Sugar:

Some patients receiving retinoids have experienced problems with blood sugar control. In addition, new cases of diabetes have been diagnosed during retinoid therapy, including diabetic ketoacidosis. In diabetics, blood-sugar levels should be monitored very carefully.


In clinical trials, the incidence of hypertriglyceridemia was 66%, hypercholesterolemia was 33%, and that of decreased HDL was 40%. Pretreatment and follow-up measurements should be obtained under fasting conditions. It is recommended that these tests be performed weekly or every other week until the lipid response to acitretin has stabilized (see WARNINGS).

Liver Function Tests:

Elevations of AST (SGOT), ALT (SGPT), or LDH were experienced by approximately 1 in 3 patients treated with acitretin. It is recommended that these tests be performed prior to initiation of therapy with acitretin, at 1- to 2-week intervals until stable, and thereafter at intervals as clinically indicated (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and boxed WARNINGS).

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility:


A carcinogenesis study of acitretin in Wistar rats, at doses up to 2 mg per kg per day administered 7 days per week for 104 weeks, has been completed. There were no neoplastic lesions observed that were considered to have been related to treatment with acitretin. An 80-week carcinogenesis study in mice has been completed with etretinate, the ethyl ester of acitretin. Blood level data obtained during this study demonstrated that etretinate was metabolized to acitretin and that blood levels of acitretin exceeded those of etretinate at all times studied. In the etretinate study, an increased incidence of blood vessel tumors (hemangiomas and hemangiosarcomas at several different sites) was noted in male, but not female, mice at doses approximately one-half the maximum recommended human therapeutic dose based on a mg-per-m 2 comparison.


Acitretin was evaluated for mutagenic potential in the Ames test, in the Chinese hamster (V79/HGPRT) assay, in unscheduled DNA synthesis assays using rat hepatocytes and human fibroblasts, and in an in vivo mouse micronucleus assay. No evidence of mutagenicity of acitretin was demonstrated in any of these assays.

Impairment of Fertility:

In a fertility study in rats, the fertility of treated animals was not impaired at the highest dosage of acitretin tested, 3 mg per kg per day (approximately one-half the maximum recommended therapeutic dose based on a mg-per-m 2 comparison). Chronic toxicity studies in dogs revealed testicular changes (reversible mild to moderate spermatogenic arrest and appearance of multinucleated giant cells) in the highest dosage group (50 then 30 mg per kg per day).

No decreases in sperm count or concentration and no changes in sperm motility or morphology were noted in 31 men (17 psoriatic subjects, 8 subjects with disorders of keratinization, and 6 healthy volunteers) given 30 to 50 mg per day of acitretin for at least 12 weeks. In these trials, no deleterious effects were seen on either testosterone production, LH, or FSH in any of the 31 men. 4-6 No deleterious effects were seen on the hypothalamic-pituitary axis in any of the 18 men where it was measured. 4,5


Teratogenic Effects: Pregnancy Category X


In a study in which acitretin was administered to male rats only at a dosage of 5 mg per kg per day for 10 weeks (approximate duration of one spermatogenic cycle) prior to and during mating with untreated female rats, no teratogenic effects were observed in the progeny (see boxed CONTRAINDICATIONS AND WARNINGS for information about male use of acitretin).

Nonteratogenic Effects:

In rats dosed at 3 mg per kg per day (approximately one-half the maximum recommended therapeutic dose based on a mg-per-m 2 comparison), slightly decreased pup survival and delayed incisor eruption were noted. At the next lowest dose tested, 1 mg per kg per day, no treatment-related adverse effects were observed.

Pediatric Use:

Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established. No clinical trials have been conducted in pediatric subjects. Ossification of interosseous ligaments and tendons of the extremities, skeletal hyperostoses, decreases in bone mineral density, and premature epiphyseal closure have been reported in children taking other systemic retinoids, including etretinate, a metabolite of acitretin. A causal relationship between these effects and acitretin has not been established. While it is not known that these occurrences are more severe or more frequent in children, there is special concern in pediatric patients because of the implications for growth potential (see WARNINGS: Skeletal Abnormalities).

Geriatric Use:

Clinical trials of acitretin did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently than younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger subjects. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy. A 2-fold increase in acitretin plasma concentrations was seen in healthy elderly subjects compared with young subjects, although the elimination half-life did not change (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY: Special Populations).


Hypervitaminosis A produces a wide spectrum of signs and symptoms primarily of the mucocutaneous, musculoskeletal, hepatic, neuropsychiatric, and central nervous systems. Many of the clinical adverse reactions reported to date with administration of acitretin resemble those of the hypervitaminosis A syndrome.

Adverse Events/Postmarketing Reports:

In addition to the events listed in the tables for the clinical trials, the following adverse events have been identified during postapproval use of acitretin. Because these events are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.


Acute myocardial infarction, thromboembolism (see WARNINGS), stroke.

Immune System Disorders:

Hypersensitivity, including angioedema and urticaria (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).

Nervous System:

Myopathy with peripheral neuropathy has been reported during therapy with acitretin. Both conditions improved with discontinuation of the drug.


Aggressive feelings and/or suicidal thoughts have been reported. These events, including self-injurious behavior, have been reported in patients taking other systemically administered retinoids, as well as in patients taking acitretin. Since other factors may have contributed to these events, it is not known if they are related to acitretin (see PRECAUTIONS).


Vulvo-vaginitis due to Candida albicans.

Skin and Appendages:

Thinning of the skin, skin fragility, and scaling may occur all over the body, particularly on the palms and soles; nail fragility is frequently observed. Madarosis and exfoliative dermatitis/erythroderma have been reported (see WARNINGS).

Vascular Disorders:

Capillary leak syndrome (see WARNINGS).

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