Irinotecan Hydrochloride (Page 2 of 7)

2.3 Dosage in Patients with Reduced UGT1A1 Activity

When administered as a single-agent, a reduction in the starting dose by at least one level of irinotecan hydrochloride injection should be considered for patients known to be homozygous for the UGT1A1* 28 allele [see Dosage and Administration (2.2) and Warnings and Precautions (5.3)]. However, the precise dose reduction in this patient population is not known, and subsequent dose modifications should be considered based on individual patient tolerance to treatment (see Tables 3-4).

2.4 Premedication

It is recommended that patients receive premedication with antiemetic agents. In clinical studies of the weekly dosage schedule, the majority of patients received 10 mg of dexamethasone given in conjunction with another type of antiemetic agent, such as a 5-HT3 blocker (e.g., ondansetron or granisetron). Antiemetic agents should be given on the day of treatment, starting at least 30 minutes before administration of irinotecan hydrochloride injection. Physicians should also consider providing patients with an antiemetic regimen (e.g., prochlorperazine) for subsequent use as needed.

Prophylactic or therapeutic administration of atropine should be considered in patients experiencing cholinergic symptoms.

2.5 Preparation of Infusion Solution

Inspect vial contents for particulate matter and discoloration and repeat inspection when drug product is withdrawn from vial into syringe.

Irinotecan hydrochloride injection 20 mg/mL is intended for single use only and any unused portion should be discarded.

Irinotecan hydrochloride injection must be diluted prior to infusion. Irinotecan hydrochloride injection should be diluted in 5% Dextrose Injection, USP, (preferred) or 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection, USP, to a final concentration range of 0.12 mg/mL to 2.8 mg/mL. Other drugs should not be added to the infusion solution.

The solution is physically and chemically stable for up to 24 hours at room temperature and in ambient fluorescent lighting. Solutions diluted in 5% Dextrose Injection, USP, and stored at refrigerated temperatures (approximately 2° to 8°C, 36° to 46°F), and protected from light are physically and chemically stable for 48 hours. Refrigeration of admixtures using 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection, USP, is not recommended due to a low and sporadic incidence of visible particulates. Freezing irinotecan hydrochloride injection and admixtures of irinotecan hydrochloride injection may result in precipitation of the drug and should be avoided.

The irinotecan hydrochloride injection solution should be used immediately after reconstitution as it contains no antibacterial preservative. Because of possible microbial contamination during dilution, it is advisable to use the admixture prepared with 5% Dextrose Injection, USP, within 24 hours if refrigerated (2° to 8°C, 36° to 46°F). In the case of admixtures prepared with 5% Dextrose Injection, USP, or Sodium Chloride Injection, USP, the solutions should be used within 4 hours if kept at room temperature. If reconstitution and dilution are performed under strict aseptic conditions (e.g., on Laminar Air Flow bench), irinotecan hydrochloride injection solution should be used (infusion completed) within 12 hours at room temperature or 24 hours if refrigerated (2° to 8°C, 36° to 46°F).

2.6 Safe Handling

Care should be exercised in the handling and preparation of infusion solutions prepared from irinotecan hydrochloride injection. The use of gloves is recommended. If a solution of irinotecan hydrochloride injection contacts the skin, wash the skin immediately and thoroughly with soap and water. If irinotecan hydrochloride injection contacts the mucous membranes, flush thoroughly with water. Several published guidelines for handling and disposal of anticancer agents are available.

2.7 Extravasation

Care should be taken to avoid extravasation, and the infusion site should be monitored for signs of inflammation. Should extravasation occur, flushing the site with sterile water and applications of ice are recommended.


Irinotecan hydrochloride injection, USP is available in three single-dose sizes:

  • 2 mL-fill vial containing 40 mg Irinotecan hydrochloride injection, USP
  • 5 mL-fill vial containing 100 mg Irinotecan hydrochloride injection, USP
  • 15 mL-fill vial containing 300 mg Irinotecan hydrochloride injection, USP


  • Irinotecan hydrochloride injection is contraindicated in patients with a known hypersensitivity to the drug or its excipients.


5.1 Diarrhea and Cholinergic Reactions

Early diarrhea (occurring during or shortly after infusion of Irinotecan hydrochloride) is usually transient and infrequently severe. It may be accompanied by cholinergic symptoms of rhinitis, increased salivation, miosis, lacrimation, diaphoresis, flushing, and intestinal hyperperistalsis that can cause abdominal cramping. Bradycardia may also occur. Early diarrhea and other cholinergic symptoms may be prevented or treated. Consider prophylactic or therapeutic administration of 0.25 mg to 1 mg of intravenous or subcutaneous atropine (unless clinically contraindicated). These symptoms are expected to occur more frequently with higher irinotecan doses.

Late diarrhea (generally occurring more than 24 hours after administration of irinotecan hydrochloride) can be life threatening since it may be prolonged and may lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or sepsis. Grade 3-4 late diarrhea occurred in 23-31% of patients receiving weekly dosing. In the clinical studies, the median time to the onset of late diarrhea was 5 days with 3-week dosing and 11 days with weekly dosing. Late diarrhea can be complicated by colitis, ulceration, bleeding, ileus, obstruction, and infection. Cases of megacolon and intestinal perforation have been reported. Patients should have loperamide readily available to begin treatment for late diarrhea. Begin loperamide at the first episode of poorly formed or loose stools or the earliest onset of bowel movements more frequent than normal. One dosage regimen for loperamide is 4 mg at the first onset of late diarrhea and then 2 mg every 2 hours until the patient is diarrhea-free for at least 12 hours. Loperamide is not recommended to be used for more than 48 consecutive hours at these doses, because of the risk of paralytic ileus. During the night, the patient may take 4 mg of loperamide every 4 hours. Monitor and replace fluid and electrolytes. Use antibiotic support for ileus, fever, or severe neutropenia. Subsequent weekly chemotherapy treatments should be delayed in patients until return of pretreatment bowel function for at least 24 hours without anti-diarrhea medication. Patients must not be treated with Irinotecan hydrochloride until resolution of the bowel obstruction. If grade 2, 3, or 4 late diarrhea recurs, subsequent doses of Irinotecan hydrochloride should be decreased [see Dosage and Administration (2)].

Avoid diuretics or laxatives in patients with diarrhea.

5.2 Myelosuppression

Irinotecan hydrochloride injection can cause severe myelosuppression. Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections have occurred in patients treated with Irinotecan hydrochloride injection.

Deaths due to sepsis following severe neutropenia have been reported in patients treated with Irinotecan hydrochloride. In the clinical studies evaluating the weekly dosage schedule, neutropenic fever (concurrent NCI grade 4 neutropenia and fever of grade 2 or greater) occurred in 3% of the patients; 6% of patients received G-CSF for the treatment of neutropenia. Manage febrile neutropenia promptly with antibiotic support [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)]. Hold Irinotecan hydrochloride if neutropenic fever occurs or if the absolute neutrophil count drops <1000/mm3. After recovery to an absolute neutrophil count ≥1000/mm3 , subsequent doses of irinotecan hydrochloride should be reduced [see Dosage and Administration (2)].

When evaluated in the trials of weekly administration, the frequency of grade 3 and 4 neutropenia was higher in patients who received previous pelvic/abdominal irradiation than in those who had not received such irradiation (48% [13/27] versus 24% [67/277]; p=0.04). Patients who have previously received pelvic/abdominal irradiation are at increased risk of severe myelosuppression following the administration of Irinotecan hydrochloride. Based on sparse available data, the concurrent administration of Irinotecan hydrochloride with irradiation is not recommended.

Patients with baseline serum total bilirubin levels of 1.0 mg/dL or more also had a greater likelihood of experiencing first-cycle grade 3 or 4 neutropenia than those with bilirubin levels that were less than 1.0 mg/dL (50% [19/38] versus 18% [47/266]; p<0.001). Patients with deficient glucuronidation of bilirubin, such as those with Gilbert’s syndrome, may be at greater risk of myelosuppression when receiving therapy with Irinotecan hydrochloride.

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