PREFEST- estradiol/norgestimate
Teva Women’s Health, Inc.


Estrogens and progestins should not be used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. (See WARNINGS, Cardiovascular disorders.)

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study reported increased risks of myocardial infarction, stroke, invasive breast cancer, pulmonary emboli, and deep vein thrombosis in postmenopausal women (50 to 79 years of age) during 5 years of treatment with oral conjugated equine estrogens (CE 0.625 mg) combined with medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA 2.5 mg) relative to placebo (See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, CLINICAL STUDIES).

The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS), a substudy of WHI, reported increased risk of developing probable dementia in postmenopausal women 65 years of age or older during 4 years of treatment with oral conjugated estrogens plus medroxyprogesterone acetate relative to placebo. It is unknown whether this finding applies to younger postmenopausal women or to women taking estrogen alone therapy. (See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, CLINICAL STUDIES.)

Other doses of oral conjugated estrogens with medroxyprogesterone acetate, and other combinations and dosage forms of estrogens and progestins were not studied in the WHI clinical trials and, in the absence of comparable data, these risks should be assumed to be similar. Because of these risks, estrogens with or without progestins should be prescribed at the lowest effective doses and for the shortest duration consistent with treatment goals and risks for the individual woman.


The PREFEST® regimen provides for a single oral tablet to be taken once daily. The peach tablet containing 1 mg estradiol, USP is taken on days one through three of therapy; the white tablet containing 1 mg estradiol, USP and 0.09 mg norgestimate, USP is taken on days four through six of therapy. This pattern is then repeated continuously to produce the constant estrogen/intermittent progestogen regimen of PREFEST.

The estrogenic component of PREFEST is estradiol, USP. It is a white, crystalline solid, chemically described as estra-1,3,5(10)-triene-3,17β-diol. The structural formula is as follows:

estradiol structural formula

C18 H24 O2 M.W. 272.38

The progestational component of PREFEST is micronized norgestimate, USP a white powder which is chemically described as 18,19-dinor-17-pregn-4-en-20-yn-3-one, 17-(acetyloxy)-13-ethyl-,oxime,(17α)-(+)-. The structural formula is as follows:

norgestimate structural formula
(click image for full-size original)

C23 H31 NO3 M.W. 369.50

Each tablet for oral administration contains 1 mg estradiol, USP alone or 1 mg estradiol, USP and 0.09 mg of norgestimate, USP. The inactive ingredients are as follows:

The estradiol, USP tablet contains anhydrous lactose, croscarmellose sodium, FD&C yellow no. 6 aluminum lake, magnesium stearate and microcrystalline cellulose.

The estradiol and norgestimate tablet contains anhydrous lactose, croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate and microcrystalline cellulose.


Endogenous estrogens are largely responsible for the development and maintenance of the female reproductive system and secondary sexual characteristics. Although circulating estrogens exist in a dynamic equilibrium of metabolic interconversions, estradiol is the principal intracellular human estrogen and is substantially more potent than its metabolites, estrone and estriol, at the receptor level.

The primary source of estrogen in normally cycling adult women is the ovarian follicle, which secretes 70 to 500 mcg of estradiol daily, depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle. After menopause, most endogenous estrogen is produced by conversion of androstenedione, secreted by the adrenal cortex, to estrone by peripheral tissues. Thus, estrone and the sulfate conjugated form, estrone sulfate, are the most abundant circulating estrogens in postmenopausal women.

Estrogens act through binding to nuclear receptors in estrogen-responsive tissues. To date, two estrogen receptors have been identified. These vary in proportion from tissue to tissue.

Circulating estrogens modulate the pituitary secretion of the gonadotropins, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), through a negative feedback mechanism. Estrogens act to reduce the elevated levels of these hormones seen in postmenopausal women.

Norgestimate is a derivative of 19-nortestosterone and binds to androgen and progestogen receptors, similar to that of the natural hormone progesterone; it does not bind to estrogen receptors. Progestins counter the estrogenic effects by decreasing the number of nuclear estradiol receptors and suppressing epithelial DNA synthesis in endometrial tissue.



Estradiol reaches its peak serum concentration (Cmax ) at approximately 7 hours in postmenopausal women receiving PREFEST (Table 1). Norgestimate is completely metabolized; its primary active metabolite, 17-deacetylnorgestimate, reaches Cmax at approximately 2 hours after dose (Table 1). Upon co-administration of PREFEST with a high fat meal, the Cmax values for estrone and estrone sulfate were increased by 14% and 24%, respectively, and the Cmax for 17-deacetylnorgestimate was decreased by 16%. The AUC values for these analytes were not significantly affected by food.


The distribution of exogenous estrogens is similar to that of endogenous estrogens. Estrogens are widely distributed in the body and are generally found in higher concentrations in the sex hormone target organs. Estrogens circulate in the blood largely bound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and albumin. 17-deacetylnorgestimate, the primary active metabolite of norgestimate, does not bind to SHBG, but to other serum proteins. The percent protein binding of 17-deacetylnorgestimate is approximately 99%.


Exogenous estrogens are metabolized in the same manner as endogenous estrogens. Circulating estrogens exist in a dynamic equilibrium of metabolic interconversions. These transformations take place mainly in the liver. Estradiol is converted reversibly to estrone, and both can be converted to estriol, which is the major urinary metabolite. Estrogens also undergo enterohepatic recirculation via sulfate and glucuronide conjugation in the liver, biliary secretion of conjugates into the intestine, and hydrolysis in the gut followed by reabsorption. In postmenopausal women, a significant portion of the circulating estrogens exist as sulfate conjugates, especially estrone sulfate, which serves as a circulating reservoir for the formation of more active estrogens. Norgestimate is extensively metabolized by first-pass mechanisms in the gastrointestinal tract and/or liver. Norgestimate’s primary active metabolite is 17-deacetylnorgestimate.


Estradiol, estrone, and estriol are excreted in the urine along with glucuronide and sulfate conjugates. Norgestimate metabolites are eliminated in the urine and feces. The half-life (t1/2 ) of estradiol and 17-deacetylnorgestimate in postmenopausal women receiving PREFEST is approximately 16 and 37 hours, respectively.

Drug Interactions:

In vitro and in vivo studies have shown that estrogens are metabolized partially by cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4). Therefore, inducers or inhibitors of CYP3A4 may affect estrogen drug metabolism. Inducers of CYP3A4 such as St. John’s Wort preparations (Hypericum perforatum), phenobarbital, carbamazepine, and rifampin may reduce plasma concentrations of estrogens, possibly resulting in a decrease in therapeutic effects and/or changes in the uterine bleeding profile. Inhibitors of CYP3A4 such as erythromycin, clarithromycin, ketoconazole, itraconazole, ritonavir and grapefruit juice may increase plasma concentrations of estrogens and may result in side effects.

Results of a subset population (n=24) from a clinical study conducted in 36 healthy postmenopausal women indicated that the steady state serum estradiol levels during the estradiol plus norgestimate phase of the regimen may be lower by 12 to 18% as compared with estradiol administered alone. The serum estrone levels may decrease by 4% and the serum estrone sulfate levels may increase by 17% during the estradiol plus norgestimate phase as compared with estradiol administered alone. The clinical relevance of these observations is unknown.

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