REMICADE (Page 3 of 13)

5.2 Malignancies

Malignancies, some fatal, have been reported among children, adolescents and young adults who received treatment with TNF blockers (initiation of therapy ≤18 years of age), including REMICADE. Approximately half of these cases were lymphomas, including Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The other cases represented a variety of malignancies, including rare malignancies that are usually associated with immunosuppression and malignancies that are not usually observed in children and adolescents. The malignancies occurred after a median of 30 months (range 1 to 84 months) after the first dose of TNF blocker therapy. Most of the patients were receiving concomitant immunosuppressants. These cases were reported post-marketing and are derived from a variety of sources, including registries and spontaneous postmarketing reports.


In the controlled portions of clinical trials of all the TNF blockers, more cases of lymphoma have been observed among patients receiving a TNF blocker compared with control patients. In the controlled and open-label portions of REMICADE clinical trials, 5 patients developed lymphomas among 5707 patients treated with REMICADE (median duration of follow-up 1.0 years) vs. 0 lymphomas in 1600 control patients (median duration of follow-up 0.4 years). In RA patients, 2 lymphomas were observed for a rate of 0.08 cases per 100 patient-years of follow-up, which is approximately three-fold higher than expected in the general population. In the combined clinical trial population for RA, CD, PsA, AS, UC, and Ps, 5 lymphomas were observed for a rate of 0.10 cases per 100 patient-years of follow-up, which is approximately four-fold higher than expected in the general population. Patients with CD, RA or Ps, particularly patients with highly active disease and/or chronic exposure to immunosuppressant therapies, may be at a higher risk (up to several fold) than the general population for the development of lymphoma, even in the absence of TNF blockers. Cases of acute and chronic leukemia have been reported with postmarketing TNF blocker use in RA and other diseases. Even in the absence of TNF blocker therapy, patients with RA may be at a higher risk (approximately 2-fold) than the general population for the development of leukemia.

Hepatosplenic T-cell Lymphoma (HSTCL)

Postmarketing cases of hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma (HSTCL), a rare type of T-cell lymphoma, have been reported in patients treated with TNF blockers including REMICADE. These cases have had a very aggressive disease course and have been fatal. Almost all patients had received treatment with the immunosuppressants azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine concomitantly with a TNF blocker at or prior to diagnosis. The majority of reported REMICADE cases have occurred in patients with CD or UC and most were in adolescent and young adult males. It is uncertain whether the occurrence of HSTCL is related to TNF blockers or TNF blockers in combination with these other immunosuppressants. When treating patients, consideration of whether to use REMICADE alone or in combination with other immunosuppressants such as azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine should take into account a possibility that there is a higher risk of HSTCL with combination therapy versus an observed increased risk of immunogenicity and hypersensitivity reactions with REMICADE monotherapy from the clinical trial data [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7) and Adverse Reactions (6.1)].

Skin Cancer

Melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma have been reported in patients treated with TNF blocker therapy, including REMICADE [see Adverse Reactions (6.3)]. Periodic skin examination is recommended for all patients, particularly those with risk factors for skin cancer.

Cervical Cancer

A population-based retrospective cohort study using data from Swedish national health registries found a 2 to 3 fold increase in the incidence of invasive cervical cancer in women with RA treated with REMICADE compared to biologics-naïve patients or the general population, particularly those over 60 years of age. A causal relationship between REMICADE and cervical cancer cannot be excluded. Periodic screening should continue in women treated with REMICADE [see Adverse Reactions (6.3)].

Other Malignancies

In the controlled portions of clinical trials of some TNF blockers including REMICADE, more malignancies (excluding lymphoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer [NMSC]) have been observed in patients receiving those TNF blockers compared with control patients. During the controlled portions of REMICADE trials in patients with moderately to severely active RA, CD, PsA, AS, UC, and Ps, 14 patients were diagnosed with malignancies (excluding lymphoma and NMSC) among 4019 REMICADE-treated patients vs. 1 among 1597 control patients (at a rate of 0.52/100 patient-years among REMICADE-treated patients vs. a rate of 0.11/100 patient-years among control patients), with median duration of follow-up 0.5 years for REMICADE-treated patients and 0.4 years for control patients. Of these, the most common malignancies were breast, colorectal, and melanoma. The rate of malignancies among REMICADE-treated patients was similar to that expected in the general population whereas the rate in control patients was lower than expected.

In a clinical trial exploring the use of REMICADE in patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), more malignancies, the majority of lung or head and neck origin, were reported in REMICADE-treated patients compared with control patients. All patients had a history of heavy smoking [see Adverse Reactions (6.1)]. Prescribers should exercise caution when considering the use of REMICADE in patients with moderate to severe COPD.

Ps patients should be monitored for nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSCs), particularly those patients who have had prior prolonged phototherapy treatment. In the maintenance portion of clinical trials for REMICADE, NMSCs were more common in patients with previous phototherapy [see Adverse Reactions (6.1)].

The potential role of TNF blockers in the development of malignancies is not known [see Adverse Reactions (6.1)]. Rates in clinical trials for REMICADE cannot be compared to rates in clinical trials of other TNF blockers and may not predict rates observed in a broader patient population. Caution should be exercised in considering REMICADE treatment in patients with a history of malignancy or in continuing treatment in patients who develop malignancy while receiving REMICADE.

5.3 Hepatitis B Virus Reactivation

Use of TNF blockers, including REMICADE, has been associated with reactivation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in patients who are chronic carriers of this virus. In some instances, HBV reactivation occurring in conjunction with TNF blocker therapy has been fatal. The majority of these reports have occurred in patients concomitantly receiving other medications that suppress the immune system, which may also contribute to HBV reactivation. Patients should be tested for HBV infection before initiating TNF blocker therapy, including REMICADE. For patients who test positive for hepatitis B surface antigen, consultation with a physician with expertise in the treatment of hepatitis B is recommended. Adequate data are not available on the safety or efficacy of treating patients who are carriers of HBV with anti-viral therapy in conjunction with TNF blocker therapy to prevent HBV reactivation. Patients who are carriers of HBV and require treatment with TNF blockers should be closely monitored for clinical and laboratory signs of active HBV infection throughout therapy and for several months following termination of therapy. In patients who develop HBV reactivation, TNF blockers should be stopped and antiviral therapy with appropriate supportive treatment should be initiated. The safety of resuming TNF blocker therapy after HBV reactivation is controlled is not known. Therefore, prescribers should exercise caution when considering resumption of TNF blocker therapy in this situation and monitor patients closely.

5.4 Hepatotoxicity

Severe hepatic reactions, including acute liver failure, jaundice, hepatitis and cholestasis, have been reported in postmarketing data in patients receiving REMICADE. Autoimmune hepatitis has been diagnosed in some of these cases. Severe hepatic reactions occurred between 2 weeks to more than 1 year after initiation of REMICADE; elevations in hepatic aminotransferase levels were not noted prior to discovery of the liver injury in many of these cases. Some of these cases were fatal or necessitated liver transplantation. Patients with symptoms or signs of liver dysfunction should be evaluated for evidence of liver injury. If jaundice and/or marked liver enzyme elevations (e.g., ≥5 times the upper limit of normal) develop, REMICADE should be discontinued, and a thorough investigation of the abnormality should be undertaken. In clinical trials, mild or moderate elevations of ALT and AST have been observed in patients receiving REMICADE without progression to severe hepatic injury [see Adverse Reactions (6.1)].

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