Ondansetron (Page 3 of 8)

6.2 Postmarketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during postapproval use of ondansetron. 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. The reactions have been chosen for inclusion due to a combination of their seriousness, frequency of reporting, or potential causal connection to ondansetron.


Arrhythmias (including ventricular and supraventricular tachycardia, premature ventricular contractions, and atrial fibrillation), bradycardia, electrocardiographic alterations (including second-degree heart block, QT/QTc interval prolongation, and ST segment depression), palpitations, and syncope. Rarely and predominantly with intravenous ondansetron, transient ECG changes, including QT/QTc interval prolongation have been reported [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)].

Myocardial ischemia was reported predominately with intravenous administration [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4)].


Flushing: Rare cases of hypersensitivity reactions, sometimes severe (e.g., anaphylactic reactions, angioedema, bronchospasm, cardiopulmonary arrest, hypotension, laryngeal edema, laryngospasm, shock, shortness of breath, stridor) have also been reported. A positive lymphocyte transformation test to ondansetron has been reported, which suggests immunologic sensitivity to ondansetron.


Liver enzyme abnormalities have been reported. Liver failure and death have been reported in patients with cancer receiving concurrent medications, including potentially hepatotoxic cytotoxic chemotherapy and antibiotics.

Lo cal Reactions

Pain, redness, and burning at site of injection.

Lo w er Respiratory



Oculogyric crisis, appearing alone, as well as with other dystonic reactions. Transient dizziness during or shortly after intravenous infusion.

S kin

Urticaria, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and toxic epidermal necrolysis.

E y e Disorders

Cases of transient blindness, predominantly during intravenous administration, have been reported. These cases of transient blindness were reported to resolve within a few minutes up to 48 hours. Transient blurred vision, in some cases associated with abnormalities of accommodation, has also been reported.


7.1 Drugs Affecting Cytochrome P-450 Enzymes

Ondansetron does not appear to induce or inhibit the cytochrome P-450 drug-metabolizing enzyme system of the liver. Because ondansetron is metabolized by hepatic cytochrome P-450 drug-metabolizing enzymes (CYP3A4, CYP2D6, CYP1A2), inducers or inhibitors of these enzymes may change the clearance and, hence, the half-life of ondansetron [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)]. On the basis of limited available data, no dosage adjustment is recommended for patients on these drugs.

7.2 Apomorphine

Based on reports of profound hypotension and loss of consciousness when apomorphine was administered with ondansetron, the concomitant use of apomorphine with ondansetron is contraindicated [see Contraindications (4)].

7.3 Phenytoin, Carbamazepine, and Rifampin

In patients treated with potent inducers of CYP3A4 (i.e., phenytoin, carbamazepine, and rifampin), the clearance of ondansetron was significantly increased and ondansetron blood concentrations were decreased. However, on the basis of available data, no dosage adjustment for ondansetron is recommended for patients on these drugs [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].

7.4 Tramadol

Although there are no data on pharmacokinetic drug interactions between ondansetron and tramadol, data from two small trials indicate that concomitant use of ondansetron may result in reduced analgesic activity of tramadol. Patients on concomitant ondansetron self-administered tramadol more frequently in these trials, leading to an increased cumulative dose in patient-controlled administration of tramadol.

7.5 Serotonergic Drugs

Serotonin syndrome (including altered mental status, autonomic instability, and neuromuscular symptoms) has been described following the concomitant use of 5-HT3 receptor antagonists and other serotonergic drugs, including SSRIs and SNRIs [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)].

7.6 Chemotherapy

In humans, carmustine, etoposide, and cisplatin do not affect the pharmacokinetics of ondansetron.

In a crossover trial in 76 pediatric patients, intravenous ondansetron did not increase blood levels of high-dose methotrexate.

7.7 Temazepam

The coadministration of ondansetron had no effect on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of temazepam.

7.8 Alfentanil and Atracurium

Ondansetron does not alter the respiratory depressant effects produced by alfentanil or the degree of neuromuscular blockade produced by atracurium. Interactions with general or local anesthetics have not been studied.


8.1 Pregnancy

Risk Summary

Published epidemiological studies on the association between ondansetron use and major birth defects have reported inconsistent findings and have important methodological limitations that preclude conclusions about the safety of ondansetron use in pregnancy [see Data]. Available postmarketing data have not identified a drug-associated risk of miscarriage or adverse maternal outcomes. Reproductive studies in rats and rabbits did not show evidence of harm to the fetus when ondansetron was administered intravenously during organogenesis at approximately 3.6 and 2.9 times the maximum recommended human intravenous dose of 0.15 mg/kg given three times a day, based on body surface area (BSA), respectively [see Data].

The background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population is unknown. All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defect, miscarriages, or other adverse outcomes. In the US general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriages in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2% to 4% and 15% to 20%, respectively.


Human Data

Available data on ondansetron use in pregnant women from several published epidemiological studies preclude an assessment of a drug-associated risk of adverse fetal outcomes due to important methodological limitations, including the uncertainty of whether women who filled a prescription actually took the medication, the concomitant use of other medications or treatments, recall bias, and other unadjusted confounders. Ondansetron exposure in utero has not been associated with overall major congenital malformations in aggregate analyses. One large retrospective cohort study examined 1970 women who received a prescription for ondansetron during pregnancy and reported no association between ondansetron exposure and major congenital malformations, miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery, infants of low birth weight, or infants small for gestational age.

Two large retrospective cohort studies and one case-control study have assessed ondansetron exposure in the first trimester and risk of cardiovascular defects with inconsistent findings. Relative risks (RR) ranged from 0.97 (95% CI 0.86 to 1.10) to 1.62 (95% CI 1.04, 2.54). A subset analysis in one of the cohort studies observed that ondansetron was specifically associated with cardiac septal defects (RR 2.05, 95% CI 1.19, 3.28); however this association was not confirmed in other studies. Several studies have assessed ondansetron and the risk of oral clefts with inconsistent findings. A retrospective cohort study of 1.8 million pregnancies in the US Medicaid Database showed an increased risk of oral clefts among 88,467 pregnancies in which oral ondansetron was prescribed in the first trimester (RR 1.24, 95% CI 1.03, 1.48), but no such association was reported with intravenous ondansetron in 23,866 pregnancies (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.63, 1.43). In the subgroup of women who received both forms of administration, the RR was 1.07 (95% CI 0.59, 1.93). Two case-control studies, using data from birth defects surveillance programs, reported conflicting associations between maternal use of ondansetron and isolated cleft palate (OR 1.6 [95% CI 1.1, 2.3] and 0.5 [95% CI 0.3, 1.0]). It is unknown whether ondansetron exposure in utero in the cases of cleft palate occurred during the time of palate formation (the palate is formed between the 6th and 9th weeks of pregnancy).

Animal Data

In embryo-fetal development studies in rats and rabbits, pregnant animals received intravenous doses of ondansetron up to 10 mg/kg/day and 4 mg/kg/day, respectively, during the period of organogenesis. With the exception of short periods of maternal weight loss and a slight increase in the incidence of early uterine deaths at the high dose level in rabbits, there were no significant effects of ondansetron on the maternal animals or the development of the offspring. At doses of 10 mg/kg/day in rats and 4 mg/kg/day in rabbits, the maternal exposure margin was approximately 3.6 and 2.9 times the maximum recommended human oral dose of 0.15 mg/kg given three times a day, respectively, based on BSA.

No intravenous pre- and post-natal developmental toxicity study was performed with ondansetron. In an oral pre- and post-natal development study pregnant rats received oral doses of ondansetron up to 15 mg/kg/day from Day 17 of pregnancy to litter Day 21. With the exception of a slight reduction in maternal body weight gain, there were no effects upon the pregnant rats and the pre- and postnatal development of their offspring, including reproductive performance of the mated F1 generation.

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