Foscarnet (Page 3 of 7)

Mucocutaneous Acyclovir Resistant HSV Infections

In a controlled trial, patients with AIDS and mucocutaneous, acyclovir-resistant HSV infection were randomized to either foscarnet (N=8) at a dose of 40 mg/kg TID or vidarabine (N=6) at a dose of 15 mg/kg per day. Eleven patients were nonrandomly assigned to receive treatment with foscarnet because of prior intolerance to vidarabine. Lesions in the eight patients randomized to foscarnet healed after 11 to 25 days; seven of the 11 patients nonrandomly treated with foscarnet healed their lesions in 10 to 30 days. Vidarabine was discontinued because of intolerance (N=4) or poor therapeutic response (N=2). In a second trial, forty AIDS patients and three bone marrow transplant recipients with mucocutaneous, acyclovir-resistant HSV infections were randomized to receive foscarnet at a dose of either 40 mg/kg BID or 40 mg/kg TID. Fifteen of the 43 patients had healing of their lesions in 11 to 72 days with no difference in response between the two treatment groups.


CMV Retinitis

Foscarnet Sodium Injection is indicated for the treatment of CMV retinitis in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Combination therapy with Foscarnet Sodium Injection and ganciclovir is indicated for patients who have relapsed after monotherapy with either drug. SAFETY AND EFFICACY OF FOSCARNET SODIUM INJECTION HAVE NOT BEEN ESTABLISHED FOR TREATMENT OF OTHER CMV INFECTIONS (e.g., PNEUMONITIS, GASTROENTERITIS); CONGENITAL OR NEONATAL CMV DISEASE; OR NONIMMUNOCOMPROMISED INDIVIDUALS.

Mucocutaneous Acyclovir Resistant HSV Infections



Foscarnet Sodium Injection is contraindicated in patients with clinically significant hypersensitivity to foscarnet sodium.


Renal Impairment

THE MAJOR TOXICITY OF FOSCARNET IS RENAL IMPAIRMENT (see ADVERSE REACTIONS section). Renal impairment is most likely to become clinically evident during the second week of induction therapy, but may occur at any time during foscarnet treatment. Renal function should be monitored carefully during both induction and maintenance therapy (see PATIENT MONITORING section). Elevations in serum creatinine are usually, but not always, reversible following discontinuation or dose adjustment of foscarnet. Safety and efficacy data for patients with baseline serum creatinine levels greater than 2.8 mg/dL or measured 24-hour creatinine clearances <50 mL/min are limited.

SINCE FOSCARNET HAS THE POTENTIAL TO CAUSE RENAL IMPAIRMENT, DOSE ADJUSTMENT BASED ON SERUM CREATININE IS NECESSARY. Hydration may reduce the risk of nephrotoxicity. It is recommended that 750–1000 mL of normal saline or 5% dextrose solution should be given prior to the first infusion of foscarnet to establish diuresis. With subsequent infusions, 750–1000 mL of hydration fluid should be given with 90-120 mg/kg of foscarnet, and 500 mL with 40–60 mg/kg of foscarnet. Hydration fluid may need to be decreased if clinically warranted.

After the first dose, the hydration fluid should be administered concurrently with each infusion of foscarnet.

Mineral and Electrolyte Abnormalities

Foscarnet has been associated with changes in serum electrolytes including hypocalcemia, hypophosphatemia, hyperphosphatemia, hypomagnesemia, and hypokalemia (see ADVERSE REACTIONS section). Foscarnet may also be associated with a dose-related decrease in ionized serum calcium which may not be reflected in total serum calcium. This effect is likely to be related to chelation of divalent metal ions such as calcium by foscarnet. Patients should be advised to report symptoms of low ionized calcium such as perioral tingling, numbness in the extremities and paresthesias. Particular caution and careful management of serum electrolytes is advised in patients with altered calcium or other electrolyte levels before treatment and especially in those with neurologic or cardiac abnormalities and those receiving other drugs known to influence minerals and electrolytes (see PATIENT MONITORING and Drug Interactions sections). Physicians should be prepared to treat these abnormalities and their sequelae such as tetany, seizures or cardiac disturbances. The rate of foscarnet infusion may also affect the decrease in ionized calcium. Therefore, an infusion pump must be used for administration to prevent rapid intravenous infusion (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION section). Slowing the infusion rate may decrease or prevent symptoms.


Seizures related to mineral and electrolyte abnormalities have been associated with foscarnet treatment (see WARNING section; Mineral And Electrolyte Abnormalities). Several cases of seizures were associated with death. Cases of status epilepticus have been reported. Risk factors associated with seizures included impaired baseline renal function, low total serum calcium, and underlying CNS conditions.


Serious acute hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., anaphylactic shock, urticaria, angioedema) have been reported postmarketing in patients receiving foscarnet (see ADVERSE REACTIONS section). If such an acute reaction occurs, therapy should be discontinued and appropriate medical therapy immediately instituted.

QT prolongation and torsade de pointes

Foscarnet has been associated with prolongation of the QT interval, an ECG abnormality that has been associated with torsades de pointes, which has been reported during postmarketing surveillance for foscarnet (see ADVERSE REACTIONS section). Some of these patients had confounding risk factors such as underlying cardiac disease, electrolyte abnormalities and other concomitant medications.

Use with caution in patients who have a history of QT prolongation, in patients who are taking medications known to prolong the QT interval (see PRECAUTIONS section), in patients with electrolyte disturbances, or in patients who have other risk factors for QT prolongation. Electrocardiograms (ECGs) and measurement of electrolytes should be obtained prior to treatment initiation and periodically during treatment with foscarnet.



Care must be taken to infuse solutions containing foscarnet only into veins with adequate blood flow to permit rapid dilution and distribution to avoid local irritation (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION). Local irritation and ulcerations of penile epithelium have been reported in male patients receiving foscarnet, possibly related to the presence of drug in the urine. Cases of male and female genital irritation/ulceration have been reported in patients receiving foscarnet. Adequate hydration with close attention to personal hygiene may minimize the occurrence of such events.

Due to the sodium content of foscarnet sodium injection (240 micromoles (5.5 mg) of sodium per mL), avoid foscarnet sodium injection use when intravenous infusion of a large amount of sodium or water may not be tolerated (e.g. in patients with cardiomyopathy). Foscarnet sodium injection should also be avoided in patients on a controlled sodium diet.

Hematopoietic System

Anemia has been reported in 33% of patients receiving foscarnet in controlled studies. Granulocytopenia has been reported in 17% of patients receiving foscarnet in controlled studies; however, only 1% (2/189) were terminated from these studies because of neutropenia.

Information for Patients

CMV Retinitis: Patients should be advised that foscarnet is not a cure for CMV retinitis, and that they may continue to experience progression of retinitis during or following treatment. They should be advised to have regular ophthalmologic examinations.

Mucocutaneous Acyclovir-Resistant HSV Infections: Patients should be advised that foscarnet is not a cure for HSV infections. While complete healing is possible, relapse occurs in most patients. Because relapse may be due to acyclovir-sensitive HSV, sensitivity testing of the viral isolate is advised. In addition, repeated treatment with foscarnet has led to the development of resistance associated with poorer response. In the case of poor therapeutic response, sensitivity testing of the viral isolate also is advised.

Effects on Ability to Drive and Use Machines: Adverse effects such as dizziness and convulsions may occur during foscarnet therapy. Patients who experience seizures, dizziness, somnolence or other adverse reactions that could result in impairment, should be advised to avoid driving or operating machinery.

General: Patients should be informed that the major toxicities of foscarnet are renal impairment, electrolyte disturbances, and seizures, and that dose modifications and possibly discontinuation may be required. The importance of close monitoring while on therapy must be emphasized. Patients should be advised of the importance of reporting to their physicians symptoms of perioral tingling, numbness in the extremities or paresthesias during or after infusion as possible symptoms of electrolyte abnormalities. Patients should also be advised to promptly report any cardiac symptoms. Should such symptoms occur, the infusion of foscarnet sodium injection should be stopped, appropriate laboratory samples for assessment of electrolyte concentrations obtained, and a physician consulted before resuming treatment. The rate of infusion must be no more than 1 mg/kg/minute. The potential for renal impairment may be minimized by accompanying foscarnet administration with hydration adequate to establish and maintain a diuresis during dosing.

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