AZATHIOPRINE (Page 3 of 5)

Drug Interactions

Use with xanthine oxidase (XO) inhibitors : One of the pathways for inactivation of azathioprine is inhibited by XO inhibitors (allopurinol or febuxostat). Patients receiving azathioprine and allopurinol concomitantly should have a dose reduction of azathioprine, to approximately 1/3 to 1/4 the usual dose. Concomitant use of azathioprine with febuxostat is not recommended. Inhibition of XO may cause increased plasma concentrations of azathioprine or its metabolite, 6-MP, leading to toxicity. It is recommended that a further dose reduction or alternative therapies be considered for patients with low or absent TPMT activity receiving azathioprine and xanthine oxidase inhibitors because both TPMT and XO inactivation pathways are affected (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, WARNINGS, PRECAUTIONS: Laboratory Tests and ADVERSE REACTIONS sections).

Use with Aminosalicylates: There is in vitro evidence that aminosalicylate derivatives (e.g., sulphasalazine, mesalazine, or olsalazine) inhibit the TPMT enzyme. Concomitant use of these agents with azathioprine should be done with caution.

Use with Other Agents Affecting Myelopoesis: Drugs which may affect leukocyte production, including co-­trimoxazole, may lead to exaggerated leukopenia, especially in renal transplant recipients.

Use with Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors: The use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors to control hypertension in patients on azathioprine has been reported to induce anemia and severe leukopenia.

Use with Warfarin: Azathioprine may inhibit the anticoagulant effect of warfarin.

Use with Ribavirin: The use of ribavirin for hepatitis C in patients receiving azathioprine has been reported to induce severe pancytopenia and may increase the risk of azathioprine-related myelotoxicity. Inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMDH) is required for one of the metabolic pathways of azathioprine. Ribavirin is known to inhibit IMDH, thereby leading to accumulation of an azathioprine metabolite, 6-methylthioionosine monophosphate (6-­MTITP), which is associated with myelotoxicity (neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and anemia). Patients receiving azathioprine with ribavirin should have complete blood counts, including platelet counts, monitored weekly for the first month, twice monthly for the second and third months of treatment, then monthly or more frequently if dosage or other therapy changes are necessary.

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

see WARNINGS section.

Pregnancy

Teratogenic Effects: Pregnancy Category D. see WARNINGS section.

Nursing Mothers

The use of azathioprine in nursing mothers is not recommended. Azathioprine or its metabolites are transferred at low levels, both transplacentally and in breast milk8, 9, 10. Because of the potential for tumorigenicity shown for azathioprine, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use

Safety and efficacy of azathioprine in pediatric patients have not been established.

ADVERSE REACTIONS

The principal and potentially serious toxic effects of azathioprine are hematologic and gastrointestinal. The risks of secondary infection and malignancy are also significant (see WARNINGS). The frequency and severity of adverse reactions depend on the dose and duration of azathioprine as well as on the patient’s underlying disease or concomitant therapies. The incidence of hematologic toxicities and neoplasia encountered in groups of renal homograft recipients is significantly higher than that in studies employing azathioprine for rheumatoid arthritis. The relative incidences in clinical studies are summarized below:

Toxicity

Renal Homograft

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Leukopenia (any degree)

>50%

28%

<2500 cells/mm3

16%

5.3%

Infections

20%

<1%

Neoplasia

*

Lymphoma

0.5%

Others

2.8%

* Data on the rate and risk of neoplasia among persons with rheumatoid arthritis treated with azathioprine are limited.

The incidence of lymphoproliferative disease in patients with RA appears to be significantly higher than that in the general population. In one completed study, the rate of lymphoproliferative disease in RA patients receiving higher than recommended doses of azathioprine (5 mg/kg per day) was 1.8 cases per 1,000 patient-years of follow-up, compared with 0.8 cases per 1,000 patient-years of follow-up in those not receiving azathioprine. However, the proportion of the increased risk attributable to the azathioprine dosage or to other therapies (i.e., alkylating agents) received by patients treated with azathioprine cannot be determined.

Hematologic: Leukopenia and/or thrombocytopenia are dose-dependent and may occur late in the course of therapy with azathioprine. Dose reduction or temporary withdrawal may result in reversal of these toxicities. Infection may occur as a secondary manifestation of bone marrow suppression or leukopenia, but the incidence of infection in renal homotransplantation is 30 to 60 times that in rheumatoid arthritis. Anemias, including macrocytic anemia, and/or bleeding have been reported.

Patients with low or absent TPMT or NUDT15 activity are at increased risk for severe, life-threatening myelosuppression from azathioprine (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, WARNINGS: Cytopenias and PRECAUTIONS: Laboratory Tests, DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Gastrointestinal: Nausea and vomiting may occur within the first few months of therapy with azathioprine, and occurred in approximately 12% of 676 rheumatoid arthritis patients. The frequency of gastric disturbance often can be reduced by administration of the drug in divided doses and/or after meals. However, in some patients, nausea and vomiting may be severe and may be accompanied by symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, malaise, and myalgias (see PRECAUTIONS). Vomiting with abdominal pain may occur rarely with a hypersensitivity pancreatitis. Hepatotoxicity manifest by elevation of serum alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin, and/or serum transaminases is known to occur following azathioprine use, primarily in allograft recipients. Hepatotoxicity has been uncommon (less than 1%) in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Hepatotoxicity following transplantation most often occurs within 6 months of transplantation and is generally reversible after interruption of azathioprine. A rare, but life-threatening hepatic veno-occlusive disease associated with chronic administration of azathioprine has been described in transplant patients and in one patient receiving azathioprine for panuveitis11, 12, 13. Periodic measurement of serum transaminases, alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin is indicated for early detection of hepatotoxicity. If hepatic veno-occlusive disease is clinically suspected, azathioprine should be permanently withdrawn.

Others: Additional side effects of low frequency have been reported. These include skin rashes, alopecia, fever, arthralgias, diarrhea, steatorrhea, negative nitrogen balance, reversible interstitial pneumonitis, hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma (see Warnings – Malignancy), and Sweet’s Syndrome (acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis).

To report SUSPECTED ADVERSE REACTIONS, contact Amneal Pharmaceuticals at 1-877-835-5472 or FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch

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