Activella (Page 5 of 10)

6.2 Postmarketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during post-approval use of Activella. Because these reactions 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.

Genitourinary System

Changes in vaginal bleeding pattern and abnormal withdrawal bleeding or flow; breakthrough bleeding; spotting; dysmenorrhea, increase in size of uterine leiomyomata; vaginitis, including vaginal candidiasis; change in amount of cervical secretion; changes in cervical ectropion; pre-menstrual-like syndrome; cystitis-like syndrome; ovarian cancer; endometrial hyperplasia; endometrial cancer.


Tenderness, enlargement, pain, nipple discharge, galactorrhea; fibrocystic breast changes; breast cancer.


Deep and superficial venous thrombosis; pulmonary embolism; thrombophlebitis; myocardial infarction, stroke; increase in blood pressure.


Nausea, vomiting; changes in appetite; cholestatic jaundice; abdominal pain/cramps, flatulence, bloating; increased incidence of gallbladder disease and pancreatitis.


Chloasma or melasma that may persist when drug is discontinued; erythema multiforme; erythema nodosum; hemorrhagic eruption; loss of scalp hair; seborrhea; hirsutism; itching; skin rash; pruritus.


Retinal vascular thrombosis, intolerance to contact lenses.

Central Nervous System

Headache; migraine; dizziness; mental depression; chorea; insomnia; nervousness; mood disturbances; irritability; exacerbation of epilepsy; dementia.


Increase or decrease in weight; edema; leg cramps; changes in libido; fatigue; exacerbation of asthma; increased triglycerides; hypersensitivity; anaphylactoid/anaphylactic reactions.


Co-administration of estradiol with norethindrone acetate did not elicit any apparent influence on the pharmacokinetics of norethindrone acetate. Similarly, no relevant interaction of norethindrone acetate on the pharmacokinetics of estradiol was found within the NETA dose range investigated in a single dose study.


In-vitro and in-vivo studies have shown that estrogens are metabolized partially by cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4). Therefore, inducers or inhibitors of CYP3A4 may affect estrogen drug metabolism. Inducers of CYP3A4 such as St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) preparations, phenobarbital, carbamazepine, and rifampin may reduce plasma concentrations of estrogens, possibly resulting in a decrease in therapeutic effects and/or changes in the uterine bleeding profile. Inhibitors of CYP3A4 such as erythromycin, clarithromycin, ketoconazole, itraconazole, ritonavir and grapefruit juice may increase plasma concentrations of estrogens and result in adverse reactions.

Norethindrone Acetate

Drugs or herbal products that induce or inhibit cytochrome P-450 enzymes, including CYP3A4, may decrease or increase the serum concentrations of norethindrone.


8.1 Pregnancy

Risk Summary

Activella is not indicated for use in pregnancy. There are no data with the use of Activella in pregnant women; however, epidemiologic studies and meta-analyses have not found an increased risk of genital or nongenital birth defects (including cardiac anomalities and limb-reduction defects) following exposure to combined hormonal contraceptives (estrogen and progestins) before conception or during early pregnancy.

In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2% to 4% and 15% to 20%, respectively.

8.2 Lactation

Risk Summary

Estrogens plus progestogens are present in human milk and can reduce milk production in breast-feeding women. This reduction can occur at any time but is less likely to occur once breast-feeding is well established. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for Activella and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed child from Activella or from the underlying maternal condition.

8.4 Pediatric Use

Activella is not indicated for use in pediatric patients. Clinical studies have not been conducted in the pediatric population.

8.5 Geriatric Use

There have not been sufficient numbers of geriatric women involved in clinical studies utilizing Activella to determine whether those over 65 years of age differ from younger subjects in their response to Activella.

The Women’s Health Initiative Studies

In the WHI estrogen plus progestin substudy (daily CE [0.625 mg] plus MPA [2.5 mg] versus placebo), there was a higher relative risk of nonfatal stroke and invasive breast cancer in women greater than 65 years of age [see Clinical Studies (14.5)].

In the WHI estrogen-alone substudy (daily CE [0.625 mg]-alone versus placebo), there was a higher relative risk of stroke in women greater than 65 years of age [see Clinical Studies (14.5)].

The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study

In the WHIMS ancillary studies of postmenopausal women 65 to 79 years of age, there was an increased risk of developing probable dementia in women receiving estrogen plus progestin or estrogen-alone when compared to placebo. It is unknown whether this finding applies to younger postmenopausal women [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3), and Clinical Studies (14.6)].

Since both ancillary studies were conducted in women 65 to 79 years of age, it is unknown whether these findings apply to younger postmenopausal women8 [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3), and Clinical Studies (14.6)].


Overdosage of estrogen plus progestogen may cause nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, abdominal pain, drowsiness and fatigue, and withdrawal bleeding may occur in women. Treatment of overdose consists of discontinuation of Activella therapy with institution of appropriate symptomatic care.


Activella 1 mg/0.5 mg is a single tablet for oral administration containing 1 mg of estradiol and 0.5 mg of norethindrone acetate and the following excipients: lactose monohydrate, starch (corn), copovidone, talc, magnesium stearate, hypromellose and triacetin.

Activella 0.5 mg/0.1 mg is a single tablet for oral administration containing 0.5 mg of estradiol and 0.1 mg of norethindrone acetate and the following excipients: lactose monohydrate, starch (corn), hydroxypropylcellulose, talc, magnesium stearate, hypromellose and triacetin.

Estradiol is a white or almost white crystalline powder. Its chemical name is estra-1, 3, 5 (10)-triene-3, 17b-diol hemihydrate with the empirical formula of C18 H24 O2 ,½ H2 O and a molecular weight of 281.4. The structural formula of E2 is as follows:

Estradiol structural formula


Norethindrone acetate (NETA) is a white or yellowish-white crystalline powder. Its chemical name is 17b -acetoxy-19-nor-17a -pregn-4-en-20-yn-3-one with the empirical formula of C22 H28 O3 and molecular weight of 340.5. The structural formula of NETA is as follows:

Norethindrone Acetate structural formula

Norethindrone Acetate


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Endogenous estrogens are largely responsible for the development and maintenance of the female reproductive system and secondary sexual characteristics. Although circulating estrogens exist in a dynamic equilibrium of metabolic interconversions, estradiol is the principal intracellular human estrogen and is substantially more potent than its metabolites, estrone and estriol, at the receptor level.

The primary source of estrogen in normally cycling adult women is the ovarian follicle, which secretes 70 to 500 mcg of estradiol daily, depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle. After menopause, most endogenous estrogen is produced by conversion of androstenedione, secreted by the adrenal cortex, to estrone in the peripheral tissues. Thus, estrone and the sulfate-conjugated form, estrone sulfate, are the most abundant circulating estrogens in postmenopausal women.

Estrogens act through binding to nuclear receptors in estrogen-responsive tissues. To date, two estrogen receptors have been identified. These vary in proportion from tissue to tissue.

Circulating estrogens modulate the pituitary secretion of the gonadotropins, luteinizing hormone (LH), and FSH through a negative feedback mechanism. Estrogens act to reduce the elevated levels of these hormones seen in postmenopausal women.

Progestin compounds enhance cellular differentiation and generally oppose the actions of estrogens by decreasing estrogen receptor levels, increasing local metabolism of estrogens to less active metabolites, or inducing gene products that blunt cellular responses to estrogen. Progestins exert their effects in target cells by binding to specific progesterone receptors that interact with progesterone response elements in target genes. Progesterone receptors have been identified in the female reproductive tract, breast, pituitary, hypothalamus, and central nervous system.

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