Follistim AQ (Page 4 of 6)

6.2 Postmarketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during post approval use of Follistim and/or Follistim AQ Cartridge. 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.

Gastrointestinal disorders

Abdominal distension, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea

General disorders and administration site conditions

Injection site reaction

Reproductive system and breast disorders

Breast tenderness, metrorrhagia, ovarian enlargement, vaginal hemorrhage

Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders


Vascular disorders

[see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)]


No drug-drug interaction studies have been performed.


8.1 Pregnancy

Pregnancy Category X: Follistim AQ Cartridge should not be used during pregnancy [see Contraindications (4)].

8.3 Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in the nursing infant from Follistim AQ Cartridge, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

8.4 Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.

8.5 Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of Follistim did not include subjects aged 65 and over.


Aside from the possibility of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2, 5.3)] and multiple gestations [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)] , there is no additional information concerning the consequences of acute overdosage with Follistim AQ Cartridge.


Follistim AQ Cartridge contains human follicle-stimulating hormone (hFSH), a glycoprotein hormone which is manufactured by recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology. The active drug substance, follitropin beta, has a dimeric structure containing two glycoprotein subunits (alpha and beta). Both the 92 amino acid alpha-chain and the 111 amino acid beta-chain have complex heterogeneous structures arising from two N-linked oligosaccharide chains. Follitropin beta is synthesized in a Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell line that has been transfected with a plasmid containing the two subunit DNA sequences encoding for hFSH. The purification process results in a highly purified preparation with a consistent hFSH isoform profile and high specific activity [as determined by the Ph. Eur. test for FSH in vivo bioactivity and on the basis of the molar extinction coefficient at 277 nm (εs :mg-1 cm-1) = 1.066].

The biological activity is determined by measuring the increase in ovary weight in female rats. The intrinsic luteinizing hormone (LH) activity in follitropin beta is less than 1 international unit per 40,000 international units FSH. The compound is considered to contain no LH activity.

The amino acid sequence and tertiary structure of the product are indistinguishable from that of hFSH of urinary source. Also, based on available data derived from physico-chemical tests and bioassay, follitropin beta and follitropin alfa, another recombinant follicle-stimulating hormone product, are indistinguishable.

Follistim AQ Cartridge is a ready for use, prefilled with solution, disposable cartridge containing either 175 IU of follitropin beta in 0.210 mL (833 IU/mL), 350 IU in 0.420 mL (833 IU/mL), 650 IU in 0.780 mL (833 IU/mL) or 975 IU in 1.170 mL (833 IU/mL) of aqueous solution for multiple dose use, with a maximal deliverable dose of either 150 IU, 300 IU, 600 IU or 900 IU, respectively. Inactive ingredients in the cartridges include: benzyl alcohol NF 10 mg/mL; L-methionine USP 0.5 mg/mL; polysorbate 20 NF 0.2 mg/mL; sodium citrate (dihydrate) USP 14.7 mg/mL; sucrose NF 50 mg/mL; and water for injection USP. Hydrochloric acid NF and/or sodium hydroxide NF are used to adjust the pH to 7.

Follistim AQ Cartridge is for use only with the Follistim Pen, which features an adjustable dosing system for administering the drug in a microvolume of solution. The Follistim Pen with Follistim AQ Cartridge is intended for SUBCUTANEOUS USE ONLY. The recombinant protein in Follistim AQ Cartridge has been standardized for FSH in vivo bioactivity in terms of the WHO International Standard for Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Recombinant, Human for Bioassay (code 92/642), issued by the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Biological Standardization (1995). Under current storage conditions, Follistim AQ may contain up to 11% of oxidized follitropin beta.

In clinical trials with Follistim, serum antibodies to FSH or anti-CHO cell derived proteins were not detected in any of the treated patients after exposure to Follistim for up to three cycles.


12.1 Mechanism of Action


Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), the active component in Follistim AQ Cartridge, is required for normal follicular growth, maturation, and gonadal steroid production.

In women, the level of FSH is critical for the onset and duration of follicular development, and consequently for the timing and number of follicles reaching maturity. Follistim AQ Cartridge stimulates ovarian follicular growth in women who do not have primary ovarian failure. In order to effect the final phase of follicle maturation, resumption of meiosis and rupture of the follicle in the absence of an endogenous LH surge, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) must be given following treatment with Follistim AQ Cartridge when patient monitoring indicates appropriate follicular development parameters have been reached.


Follistim when administered with hCG stimulates spermatogenesis in men with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. FSH, the active component of Follistim, is the pituitary hormone responsible for spermatogenesis.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics

Pharmacokinetic parameters for Follistim AQ Cartridge were evaluated in an open-label, single-center, randomized study in 20 healthy women. Serum FSH values from a single subcutaneous injection of reconstituted Follistim lyophilized powder administered by conventional syringe were compared to those values following a single subcutaneous injection of Follistim AQ Cartridge administered with the Follistim Pen injector. Administration of follitropin beta with the Follistim Pen resulted an 18% increase in AUC0–∞ and Cmax . The 18% difference in serum FSH concentrations resulting from administration of the two formulations was due to differences between the anticipated and actual volume delivered with the conventional syringe. The pharmacokinetic parameters for Follistim AQ Cartridge are as follows:

Table 5: Mean (SD) Pharmacokinetic Parameters of a Single Subcutaneous Injection of 150 IU of Follistim AQ Cartridge (n=20)
AUC0–∞ (IU/L*h) Cmax (IU/L) tmax (h) t1/2 (h) CLapp (L/h/kg)
AUC0–∞ Area under the curveCmax Maximum concentrationtmax Time to maximum concentrationt1/2 Elimination half-lifeCLapp Clearance
Follistim AQ 215.1 3.4 12.9 33.4 0.01
Cartridge (45.8) (0.7) (6.2) (4.2) (0.003)



The bioavailability of Follistim following subcutaneous and intramuscular administration was investigated in healthy, pituitary-suppressed women given a single 300 international units dose. In these women, the area under the curve (AUC), expressed as the mean ± SD, was equivalent between the subcutaneous (455.6 ± 141.4 IU*h/L) and intramuscular (445.7 ± 135.7 IU*h/L) routes of administration. However, equivalence could not be established with respect to the peak serum FSH levels (Cmax ). The Cmax achieved after subcutaneous administration and intramuscular administration was 5.41 ± 0.72 international units/L and 6.86 ± 2.90 international units/L, respectively. After subcutaneous or intramuscular injection the apparent dose absorbed was 77.8% and 76.4%, respectively.

The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of a single, intramuscular dose (300 international units) of Follistim were also investigated in a group (n=8) of gonadotropin-deficient, but otherwise healthy women. In these women, FSH (mean ± SD) AUC was 339 ± 105 international units*h/L, Cmax was 4.3 ± 1.7 international units/L. Cmax occurred at approximately 27 ± 5.4 hours after intramuscular administration.

A multiple dose, dose proportionality, pharmacokinetic study of Follistim was completed in healthy, pituitary-suppressed, female subjects given subcutaneous doses of 75, 150, or 225 international units for 7 days. Steady-state blood concentrations of FSH were reached with all doses after 5 days of treatment based on the trough concentrations of FSH just prior to dosing (Ctrough ). Peak blood concentrations with the 75, 150, and 225 international units dose were 4.30 ± 0.60 international units/L, 8.51 ± 1.16 international units/L and 13.92 ± 1.81 international units/L, respectively.


No PK studies were conducted using Follistim AQ Cartridge in men. Exposures of follitropin beta from Follistim AQ Cartridge and Follistim are expected to be equivalent after adjusting for the 18% difference in dose [see Dosage and Administration (2)].

Serum levels of FSH were measured in a clinical study that compared the effects of two different dosing schedules of Follistim (150 international units three times a week or 225 international units twice a week) administered by subcutaneous injection concurrently with chorionic gonadotropin for induction of spermatogenesis in hypogonadotropic hypogonadal men. Administration of Follistim was started at Week 17. Mean serum trough concentrations of FSH remained fairly constant over the treatment period. At the end of treatment (Week 64), the mean serum trough concentrations of FSH were 2.09 international units/L in the 150 international units group and 3.22 international units/L in the 225 international units group. Serum trough concentrations of FSH measured prior to the first Follistim injection on the Mondays of active treatment period (Weeks 17 to 64) and one week after the end of treatment period are presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1
(click image for full-size original)

Figure 1: Mean (SD) Serum Trough Concentrations of FSH in Men Following Subcutaneous Administration of Follistim Using Two Different Dosing Schedules (150 International Units Three Times a Week or 225 International Units Twice a Week)


The volume of distribution of Follistim in healthy, pituitary-suppressed, women following intravenous administration of a 300 international units dose was approximately 8 L.


The recombinant FSH in Follistim AQ Cartridge is biochemically very similar to urinary FSH and it is therefore anticipated that it is metabolized in the same manner.


The elimination half-life (t1/2 ) following a single subcutaneous injection of 150 IU of Follistim AQ Cartridge in women was 33.4 (4.2) hours. The clearance was 0.01 (0.003) L/h/kg.

Use in Specific Populations:

Body weight: The effect of body weight on the pharmacokinetics of Follistim was evaluated in a group of European and Japanese women who were significantly different in terms of body weight. The European women had a body weight of (mean ± SD) 67.4 ± 13.5 kg and the Japanese subjects were 46.8 ± 11.6 kg. Following a single intramuscular dose of 300 international units of Follistim, the AUC was significantly smaller in European women (339 ± 105 international units*h/L) than in Japanese women (544 ± 201 international units*h/L). However, clearance per kg of body weight was essentially the same for the respective groups (0.014 and 0.013 L/hr/kg).

Geriatric Use: The pharmacokinetics of Follistim has not been studied in geriatric subjects.

Pediatric Use: The pharmacokinetics of Follistim has not been studied in pediatric subjects.

Renal Impairment: The effect of renal impairment on the pharmacokinetics of Follistim has not been studied.

Hepatic Impairment: The effect of hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics of Follistim has not been studied.

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