Diclofenac Sodium (Page 3 of 8)

5.7 Anaphylactoid Reactions

Diclofenac has been associated with anaphylactic reactions in patients with and without known hypersensitivity to diclofenac and in patients with aspirin-sensitive asthma [see Contraindications (4) and Warnings and Precautions (5.8)].

Seek e mergency help if an anaphylactic reaction occurs.

5.8 Exacerbation of Asthma Related to Aspirin Sensitivity

A subpopulation of patients with asthma may have aspirin-sensitive asthma which may include chronic rhinosinusitis complicated by nasal polyps; severe, potentially fatal bronchospasm; and/or intolerance to aspirin and other NSAIDs. Because cross-reactivity between aspirin and other NSAIDs has been reported in such aspirin-sensitive patients, diclofenac sodium topical gel is contraindicated in patients with this form of aspirin sensitivity [see Contraindications (4) ]. When diclofenac sodium topical gel is used in patients with preexisting asthma (without known aspirin sensitivity), monitor patients for changes in the signs and symptoms of asthma.

5.9 Serious Skin Reactions

NSAIDs, including diclofenac, can cause serious skin adverse reactions such as exfoliative dermatitis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which can be fatal. These serious events may occur without warning. Inform patients about the signs and symptoms of serious skin reactions, and to discontinue the use of diclofenac sodium topical gelat the first appearance of skin rash or any other sign of hypersensitivity. Diclofenac sodium topical gel is contraindicated in patients with previous serious skin reactions to NSAIDs [see Contraindications (4) ].

5.10 Premature Closure of Fetal Ductus Arteriosus

Diclofenac may cause premature closure of the fetal ductus arteriosus. Avoid use of NSAIDs, including diclofenac sodium, in pregnant women starting at 30 weeks of gestation (third trimester) [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1) ].

5.11 Hematologic Toxicity

Anemia has occurred in NSAID-treated patients. This may be due to occult or gross blood loss, fluid retention, or an incompletely described effect on erythropoiesis. If a patient treated with diclofenac sodium topical gel has any signs or symptoms of anemia, monitor hemoglobin or hematocrit.

NSAIDs, including diclofenac sodium, may increase the risk of bleeding events. Co-morbid conditions such as coagulation disorders, concomitant use of warfarin, other anticoagulants, antiplatelet agents (e.g., aspirin), serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may increase this risk. Monitor these patients for signs of bleeding [see Drug Interactions (7) ].

5.12 Masking of Inflammation and Fever

The pharmacological activity of diclofenac sodium in reducing inflammation, and possibly fever, may diminish the utility of diagnostic signs in detecting infections.

5.13 Laboratory Monitoring

Because serious GI bleeding, hepatotoxicity, and renal injury can occur without warning symptoms or signs, consider monitoring patients on long-term NSAID treatment with a CBC and a chemistry profile periodically [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2, 5.3, 5.6)].

5.14 Sun Exposure

Patients should minimize or avoid exposure to natural or artificial sunlight on treated areas because studies in animals indicated topical diclofenac treatment resulted in an earlier onset of ultraviolet light induced skin tumors. The potential effects of diclofenac sodium topical gel on skin response to ultraviolet damage in humans are not known.

5.15 Eye Exposure

Contact of diclofenac sodium topical gel with eyes and mucosa, although not studied, should be avoided. Patients should be advised that if eye contact occurs, they should immediately wash out the eye with water or saline and consult a physician if irritation persists for more than an hour.

5.16 Oral Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Concomitant use of oral and topical NSAIDs may result in a higher rate of hemorrhage, more frequent abnormal creatinine, urea and hemoglobin. Do not use combination therapy with diclofenac sodium topical gel and an oral NSAID unless the benefit outweighs the risk.


The following adverse reactions are discussed in greater detail in other sections of the labeling:

  • Cardiovascular Thrombotic Events [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1) ]
  • GI Bleeding, Ulceration and Perforation [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2) ]
  • Hepatotoxicity [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3) ]
  • Hypertension [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4) ]
  • Heart Failure and Edema [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5) ]
  • Renal Toxicity and Hyperkalemia [see Warnings and Precautions (5.6) ]
  • Anaphylactic Reactions [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7) ]
  • Serious Skin Reactions [see Warnings and Precautions (5.9) ]
  • Hematologic Toxicity [see Warnings and Precautions (5.11) ]

6.1 Clinical Trials Experience

Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared with rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.

During clinical development, 913 patients were exposed to diclofenac sodium topical gel in randomized, double-blind, multicenter, vehicle-controlled, parallel-group studies in osteoarthritis of the superficial joints of the extremities. Of these, 513 patients received diclofenac sodium topical gel for osteoarthritis of the knee and 400 were treated for osteoarthritis of the hand. Additionally, 583 patients were exposed to diclofenac sodium topical gel in an uncontrolled, open-label, long-term safety trial in osteoarthritis of the knee. Of these, 355 patients were treated for osteoarthritis of 1 knee and 228 were treated for osteoarthritis of both knees. Duration of exposure ranged from 8 to 12 weeks for the placebo-controlled studies, and up to 12 months for the open-label safety trial.

Short-Term Placebo-Controlled Trials:

Adverse reactions observed in at least 1% of patients treated with diclofenac sodium topical gel: Non-serious adverse reactions that were reported during the short-term placebo-controlled studies comparing diclofenac sodium topical gel and placebo (vehicle gel) over study periods of 8 to 12 weeks (16 g per day), were application site reactions. These were the only adverse reactions that occurred in >1% of treated patients with a greater frequency in the diclofenac sodium topical gel group (7%) than the placebo group (2%).

Table 1 lists the types of application site reactions reported. Application site dermatitis was the most frequent type of application site reaction and was reported by 4% of patients treated with diclofenac sodium topical gel, compared to 1% of placebo patients.

Table 1. Non-serious Application Site Adverse Reactions (≥1% Diclofenac Sodium Patients) –Short-term Controlled Trials

Preferred Term according to MedDRA 9.1.

Diclofenac sodium topical gel Placebo (vehicle)
N=913 N=876
Adverse Reaction N (%) N (%)
Any application site reaction 62 (7) 19 (2)
Application site dermatitis 32 (4) 6 (<1)
Application site pruritus 7 (<1) 1 (<1)
Application site erythema 6 (<1) 3 (<1)
Application site paresthesia 5 (<1) 3 (<1)
Application site dryness 4 (<1) 3 (<1)
Application site vesicles 3 (<1) 0
Application site irritation 2 (<1) 0
Application site papules 1 (<1) 0

In the placebo-controlled trials, the discontinuation rate due to adverse reactions was 5% for patients treated with diclofenac sodium topical gel, and 3% for patients in the placebo group. Application site reactions, including application site dermatitis, were the most frequent reason for treatment discontinuation.

Long-Term Open-Label Safety Trial:

In the open-label, long-term safety study, distribution of adverse reactions was similar to that in the placebo-controlled studies. In this study, where patients were treated for up to 1 year with diclofenac sodium topical gel up to 32 g per day, application site dermatitis was observed in 11% of patients. Adverse reactions that led to the discontinuation of the study drug were experienced in 12% of patients. The most common adverse reaction that led to discontinuation of the study was application site dermatitis, which was experienced by 6% of patients.

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