Irinotecan Hydrochloride (Page 5 of 7)

8.7 Hepatic Impairment

Irinotecan clearance is diminished in patients with hepatic impairment while exposure to the active metabolite SN-38 is increased relative to that in patients with normal hepatic function. The magnitude of these effects is proportional to the degree of liver impairment as measured by elevations in total bilirubin and transaminase concentrations. Therefore, use caution when administering irinotecan hydrochloride injection to patients with hepatic impairment. The tolerability of irinotecan in patients with hepatic dysfunction (bilirubin greater than 2 mg/dl) has not been assessed sufficiently, and no recommendations for dosing can be made [see Dosage and Administration (2), Warnings and Precautions (5.10) and Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].


In U.S. phase 1 trials, single doses of up to 345 mg/m2 of irinotecan were administered to patients with various cancers. Single doses of up to 750 mg/m2 of irinotecan have been given in non-U.S. trials. The adverse events in these patients were similar to those reported with the recommended dosage and regimen. There have been reports of overdosage at doses up to approximately twice the recommended therapeutic dose, which may be fatal. The most significant adverse reactions reported were severe neutropenia and severe diarrhea. There is no known antidote for overdosage of irinotecan hydrochloride injection. Maximum supportive care should be instituted to prevent dehydration due to diarrhea and to treat any infectious complications.


Irinotecan Hydrochloride Injection, USP is an antineoplastic agent of the topoisomerase I inhibitor class.

Irinotecan Hydrochloride Injection, USP is supplied as a sterile, pale yellow, clear, aqueous solution. Each milliliter of solution contains 20 mg of irinotecan hydrochloride (on the basis of the trihydrate salt), 45 mg of sorbitol, NF, and 0.9 mg of lactic acid, USP. The pH of the solution has been adjusted to 3.5 (range, 3.0 to 3.8) with sodium hydroxide or hydrochloric acid. Irinotecan Hydrochloride Injection, USP is intended for dilution with 5% Dextrose Injection, USP (D5W), or 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection, USP, prior to intravenous infusion. The preferred diluent is 5% Dextrose Injection, USP.

Irinotecan hydrochloride is a semisynthetic derivative of camptothecin, an alkaloid extract from plants such as Camptotheca acuminata or is chemically synthesized.

The chemical name is (S)-4,11-diethyl-3,4,12,14-tetrahydro-4-hydroxy-3,14-dioxo1H -pyrano[3',4':6,7]-indolizino[1,2-b]quinolin-9-yl-[1,4'bipiperidine]-1′-carboxylate, monohydrochloride, trihydrate. Its empirical formula is C33 H38 N4 O6 •HCl•3H2 O and molecular weight is 677.19. It is slightly soluble in water and organic solvents. Its structural formula is as follows:

Chemical structure
(click image for full-size original)


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Irinotecan is a derivative of camptothecin. Camptothecins interact specifically with the enzyme topoisomerase I, which relieves torsional strain in DNA by inducing reversible single-strand breaks. Irinotecan and its active metabolite SN-38 bind to the topoisomerase I-DNA complex and prevent religation of these single-strand breaks. Current research suggests that the cytotoxicity of irinotecan is due to double-strand DNA damage produced during DNA synthesis when replication enzymes interact with the ternary complex formed by topoisomerase I, DNA, and either irinotecan or SN-38. Mammalian cells cannot efficiently repair these double-strand breaks.

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

Irinotecan serves as a water-soluble precursor of the lipophilic metabolite SN-38. SN-38 is formed from irinotecan by carboxylesterase-mediated cleavage of the carbamate bond between the camptothecin moiety and the dipiperidino side chain. SN-38 is approximately 1000 times as potent as irinotecan as an inhibitor of topoisomerase I purified from human and rodent tumor cell lines. In vitro cytotoxicity assays show that the potency of SN-38 relative to irinotecan varies from 2-to 2000-fold; however, the plasma area under the concentration versus time curve (AUC) values for SN-38 are 2% to 8% of irinotecan and SN-38 is 95% bound to plasma proteins compared to approximately 50% bound to plasma proteins for irinotecan [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3) ]. The precise contribution of SN-38 to the activity of irinotecan hydrochloride injection is thus unknown. Both irinotecan and SN-38 exist in an active lactone form and an inactive hydroxy acid anion form. A pH-dependent equilibrium exists between the two forms such that an acid pH promotes the formation of the lactone, while a more basic pH favors the hydroxy acid anion form.

Administration of irinotecan has resulted in antitumor activity in mice bearing cancers of rodent origin and in human carcinoma xenografts of various histological types.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics

After intravenous infusion of irinotecan in humans, irinotecan plasma concentrations decline in a multiexponential manner, with a mean terminal elimination half-life of about 6 to 12 hours. The mean terminal elimination half-life of the active metabolite SN-38 is about 10 to 20 hours. The half-lives of the lactone (active) forms of irinotecan and SN-38 are similar to those of total irinotecan and SN-38, as the lactone and hydroxy acid forms are in equilibrium.

Over the recommended dose range of 50 to 350 mg/m2 , the AUC of irinotecan increases linearly with dose; the AUC of SN-38 increases less than proportionally with dose. Maximum concentrations of the active metabolite SN-38 are generally seen within 1 hour following the end of a 90-minute infusion of irinotecan. Pharmacokinetic parameters for irinotecan and SN-38 following a 90-minute infusion of irinotecan at dose levels of 125 and 340 mg/m2 determined in two clinical studies in patients with solid tumors are summarized in Table 5:

Table 5. Summary of Mean (±Standard Deviation) Irinotecan and SN-38 Pharmacokinetic Parameters in Patients with Solid Tumors
Plasma specimens collected for 24 hours following the end of the 90-minute infusion.
Plasma specimens collected for 48 hours following the end of the 90-minute infusion. Because of the longer collection period, these values provide a more accurate reflection of the terminal elimination half-lives of irinotecan and SN-38.
Dose(mg/m2) Irinotecan SN-38
Cmax (ng/mL) AUC0 –24 (ng ∙h/mL) t1/2 (h) Vz (L/m2) CL(L/h/m2) Cmax (ng/mL) AUC0 –24 (ng ∙h/mL) t1/2 (h)
125(N=64) 1,660±797 10,200±3,270 5.8*±0.7 110±48.5 13.3±6.01 26.3±11.9 229±108 10.4±3.1
340(N=6) 3,392±874 20,604±6,027 11.7±1.0 234±69.6 13.9±4.0 56.0±28.2 474±245 21.0±4.3

Cmax — Maximum plasma concentrationAUC0 24 — Area under the plasma concentration-time curve from time0 to 24 hours after the end of the 90-minute infusiont1/2 — Terminal elimination half-lifeVz — Volume of distribution of terminal elimination phaseCL — Total systemic clearance

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