- Pretreatment with hCG is required prior to concomitant therapy with Follistim AQ Cartridge and hCG. An initial dosage of 1,500 international units of hCG should be administered at twice weekly intervals to normalize serum testosterone levels. If serum testosterone levels have not normalized after 8 weeks of hCG treatment, the hCG dose can be increased to 3,000 international units twice weekly [see Clinical Studies (14.3)].
- After normal serum testosterone levels have been reached, Follistim AQ Cartridge should be administered by subcutaneous injection concomitantly with hCG treatment. Follistim is given at a dosage of 450 international units per week, as either 225 international units twice weekly or 150 international units three times per week, in combination with the same hCG dose used to normalize testosterone levels. Based on delivery of a higher dose of follitropin beta with the Follistim AQ Cartridge and pen injector [see Dosage and Administration (2.1)], a lower dose of Follistim AQ Cartridge may be considered.
Injection: Follistim AQ Cartridge 175 international units per 0.210 mL
Injection: Follistim AQ Cartridge 350 international units per 0.420 mL
Injection: Follistim AQ Cartridge 650 international units per 0.780 mL
Injection: Follistim AQ Cartridge 975 international units per 1.170 mL
Follistim AQ Cartridge is contraindicated in women and men who exhibit:
- Prior hypersensitivity to recombinant hFSH products
- High levels of FSH indicating primary gonadal failure
- Presence of uncontrolled non-gonadal endocrinopathies (e.g., thyroid, adrenal, or pituitary disorders) [see Indications and Usage (1.1, 1.2, 1.3)]
- Hypersensitivity reactions to streptomycin or neomycin. Follistim AQ may contain traces of these antibiotics
- Tumors of the ovary, breast, uterus, testis, hypothalamus or pituitary gland
Follistim AQ Cartridge is also contraindicated in women who exhibit:
- Pregnancy [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1)]
- Heavy or irregular vaginal bleeding of undetermined origin
- Ovarian cysts or enlargement not due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Follistim AQ Cartridge should be used only by physicians who are experienced in infertility treatment. Follistim AQ Cartridge contains a potent gonadotropic substance capable of causing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)] with or without pulmonary or vascular complications [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)] and multiple births [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)]. Gonadotropin therapy requires the availability of appropriate monitoring facilities [see Warnings and Precautions (5.10)].
Careful attention should be given to the diagnosis of infertility and in the selection of candidates for Follistim AQ Cartridge therapy [see Indications and Usage (1.1, 1.2, 1.3) and Dosage and Administration (2.2, 2.3, 2.4)].
Switching to Follistim AQ Cartridge from other brands (manufacturer), types (recombinant, urinary), and/or methods of administration (Follistim Pen, conventional syringe) may necessitate an adjustment of the dose [see Dosage and Administration (2)].
In order to minimize the hazards associated with abnormal ovarian enlargement that may occur with Follistim AQ therapy, treatment should be individualized and the lowest effective dose should be used [ see Dosage and Administration (2.2, 2.3)]. Use of ultrasound monitoring of ovarian response and/or measurement of serum estradiol levels is important to minimize the risk of overstimulation [see Warnings and Precautions (5.8)].
If the ovaries are abnormally enlarged on the last day of Follistim AQ therapy, hCG should not be administered in order to reduce the chances of developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). Intercourse should be prohibited in patients with significant ovarian enlargement after ovulation because of the danger of hemoperitoneum resulting from ruptured ovarian cysts [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)].
OHSS is a medical entity distinct from uncomplicated ovarian enlargement and may progress rapidly to become a serious medical condition. OHSS is characterized by a dramatic increase in vascular permeability, which can result in a rapid accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, thorax, and potentially, the pericardium. The early warning signs of OHSS developing are severe pelvic pain, nausea, vomiting, and weight gain. Abdominal pain, abdominal distension, gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, severe ovarian enlargement, weight gain, dyspnea, and oliguria have been reported with OHSS. Clinical evaluation may reveal hypovolemia, hemoconcentration, electrolyte imbalances, ascites, hemoperitoneum, pleural effusions, hydrothorax, acute pulmonary distress, and thromboembolic reactions [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)]. Transient liver function test abnormalities suggestive of hepatic dysfunction with or without morphologic changes on liver biopsy have also been reported in association with OHSS.
OHSS occurs after gonadotropin treatment has been discontinued, and it can develop rapidly, reaching its maximum about seven to ten days following treatment. Usually, OHSS resolves spontaneously with the onset of menses. If there is a risk for OHSS evident prior to hCG administration [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)] , the hCG must be withheld. Cases of OHSS are more common, more severe, and more protracted if pregnancy occurs; therefore, women should be assessed for the development of OHSS for at least two weeks after hCG administration.
If serious OHSS occurs, gonadotropins, including hCG, should be stopped and consideration should be given as to whether the patient needs to be hospitalized. Treatment is primarily symptomatic and overall should consist of bed rest, fluid and electrolyte management, and analgesics (if needed). Because the use of diuretics can accentuate the diminished intravascular volume, diuretics should be avoided except in the late phase of resolution as described below. The management of OHSS may be divided into three phases as follows:
- Acute Phase:
- Management should be directed at preventing hemoconcentration due to loss of intravascular volume to the third space and minimizing the risk of thromboembolic phenomena and kidney damage. Fluid intake and output, weight, hematocrit, serum and urinary electrolytes, urine specific gravity, BUN and creatinine, total proteins with albumin: globulin ratio, coagulation studies, electrocardiogram to monitor for hyperkalemia, and abdominal girth should be thoroughly assessed daily or more often based on the clinical need. Treatment, consisting of limited intravenous fluids, electrolytes, and human serum albumin is intended to normalize electrolytes while maintaining an acceptable but somewhat reduced intravascular volume. Full correction of the intravascular volume deficit may lead to an unacceptable increase in the amount of third space fluid accumulation.
- Chronic Phase:
- After the acute phase is successfully managed as above, excessive fluid accumulation in the third space should be limited by instituting severe potassium, sodium, and fluid restriction.
- Resolution Phase:
- As third space fluid returns to the intravascular compartment, a fall in hematocrit and increasing urinary output are observed in the absence of any increase in intake. Peripheral and/or pulmonary edema may result if the kidneys are unable to excrete third space fluid as rapidly as it is mobilized. Diuretics may be indicated during the resolution phase, if necessary, to combat pulmonary edema.
OHSS increases the risk of injury to the ovary. The ascitic, pleural, and pericardial fluid should not be removed unless there is the necessity to relieve symptoms such as pulmonary distress or cardiac tamponade. Pelvic examination may cause rupture of an ovarian cyst, which may result in hemoperitoneum, and should therefore be avoided. If bleeding occurs and requires surgical intervention, the clinical objective should be to control the bleeding and retain as much ovarian tissue as possible.
During clinical trials with Follistim or Follistim AQ Cartridge therapy, OHSS occurred in 7.6% of 105 women (OI) and 6.4% of 751 women (IVF or ICSI) treated with Follistim and Follistim AQ Cartridge, respectively.
Serious pulmonary conditions (e.g., atelectasis, acute respiratory distress syndrome) have been reported in women treated with gonadotropins. In addition, thromboembolic reactions both in association with, and separate from OHSS have been reported following gonadotropin therapy. Intravascular thrombosis, which may originate in venous or arterial vessels, can result in reduced blood flow to vital organs or the extremities. Women with generally recognized risk factors for thrombosis, such as a personal or family history, severe obesity, or thrombophilia, may have an increased risk of venous or arterial thromboembolic events, during or following treatment with gonadotropins. Sequelae of such reactions have included venous thrombophlebitis, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary infarction, cerebral vascular occlusion (stroke), and arterial occlusion resulting in loss of limb and rarely in myocardial infarction. In rare cases, pulmonary complications and/or thromboembolic reactions have resulted in death. In women with recognized risk factors, the benefits of ovulation induction, in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) treatment need to be weighed against the risks. It should be noted, that pregnancy itself also carries an increased risk of thrombosis.
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