Tacrolimus (Page 10 of 12)

14.2 Liver Transplantation

The safety and efficacy of tacrolimus-based immunosuppression following orthotopic liver transplantation were assessed in two prospective, randomized, non-blinded multicenter trials. The active control groups were treated with a cyclosporine-based immunosuppressive regimen (CsA/AZA). Both trials used concomitant adrenal corticosteroids as part of the immunosuppressive regimens. These trials compared patient and graft survival rates at 12 months following transplantation.

In one trial, 529 patients were enrolled at 12 clinical sites in the United States; prior to surgery, 263 were randomized to the tacrolimus-based immunosuppressive regimen and 266 to the CsA/AZA. In 10 of the 12 sites, the same CsA/AZA protocol was used, while 2 sites used different control protocols. This trial excluded patients with renal dysfunction, fulminant hepatic failure with Stage IV encephalopathy, and cancers; pediatric patients (≤12 years old) were allowed.

In the second trial, 545 patients were enrolled at 8 clinical sites in Europe; prior to surgery, 270 were randomized to the tacrolimus-based immunosuppressive regimen and 275 to CsA/AZA. In this trial, each center used its local standard CsA/AZA protocol in the active-control arm. This trial excluded pediatric patients, but did allow enrollment of subjects with renal dysfunction, fulminant hepatic failure in Stage IV encephalopathy, and cancers other than primary hepatic with metastases.

One-year patient survival and graft survival in the tacrolimus-based treatment groups were similar to those in the CsA/AZA treatment groups in both trials. The overall 1-year patient survival (CsA/AZA and tacrolimus-based treatment groups combined) was 88% in the U.S. trial and 78% in the European trial. The overall 1-year graft survival (CsA/AZA and tacrolimus-based treatment groups combined) was 81% in the U.S. trial and 73% in the European trial. In both trials, the median time to convert from IV to oral tacrolimus dosing was 2 days.

Although there is a lack of direct correlation between tacrolimus concentrations and drug efficacy, data from clinical trials of liver transplant patients have shown an increasing incidence of adverse reactions with increasing trough blood concentrations. Most patients are stable when trough whole blood concentrations are maintained between 5 to 20 ng/mL. Long-term post-transplant patients are often maintained at the low end of this target range.

Data from the U.S. clinical trial show that the median trough blood concentrations, measured at intervals from the second week to one year post-transplantation, ranged from 9.8 ng/mL to 19.4 ng/mL.

14.3 Heart Transplantation

Two open-label, randomized, comparative trials evaluated the safety and efficacy of tacrolimus-based and cyclosporine-based immunosuppression in primary orthotopic heart transplantation. In a trial conducted in Europe, 314 patients received a regimen of antibody induction, corticosteroids, and azathioprine in combination with tacrolimus or cyclosporine modified for 18 months. In a 3-arm trial conducted in the U.S., 331 patients received corticosteroids and tacrolimus plus sirolimus, tacrolimus plus mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) or cyclosporine modified plus MMF for 1 year.

In the European trial, patient/graft survival at 18 months post-transplant was similar between treatment arms, 92% in the tacrolimus group and 90% in the cyclosporine group. In the U.S. trial, patient and graft survival at 12 months was similar with 93% survival in the tacrolimus plus MMF group and 86% survival in the cyclosporine modified plus MMF group. In the European trial, the cyclosporine trough concentrations were above the pre-defined target range (i.e., 100 to 200 ng/mL) at Day 122 and beyond in 32% to 68% of the patients in the cyclosporine treatment arm, whereas the tacrolimus trough concentrations were within the pre-defined target range (i.e., 5 to 15 ng/mL) in 74% to 86% of the patients in the tacrolimus treatment arm. Data from this European trial indicate that from 1 week to 3 months post-transplant, approximately 80% of patients maintained trough concentrations between 8 to 20 ng/mL and, from 3 months through 18 months post-transplant, approximately 80% of patients maintained trough concentrations between 6 to 18 ng/mL.

The U.S. trial contained a third arm of a combination regimen of sirolimus, 2 mg per day, and full-dose tacrolimus; however, this regimen was associated with increased risk of wound-healing complications, renal function impairment, and insulin-dependent post-transplant diabetes mellitus, and is not recommended [see Warnings and Precautions ( 5.10) ].


1. “OSHA Hazardous Drugs.” OSHA. http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/hazardousdrugs/index.html


Product: 50090-5596

NDC: 50090-5596-0 90 CAPSULE in a BOTTLE


Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Patient Information).

17.1 Administration

Advise the patient or caregiver to:

Inspect their tacrolimus medicine when they receive a new prescription and before taking it. If the appearance of the capsule is not the same as usual, or if dosage instructions have changed, advise patients to contact their healthcare provider as soon as possible to make sure that they have the right medicine. Other tacrolimus products cannot be substituted for tacrolimus capsules.
Take tacrolimus capsules at the same 12-hour intervals every day to achieve consistent blood concentrations.
Take tacrolimus capsules consistently either with or without food because the presence and composition of food decreases the bioavailability of tacrolimus capsules.
Not to eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice in combination with tacrolimus capsules [see Drug Interactions (7.2)].

17.2 Development of Lymphoma and Other Malignancies

Inform patients they are at increased risk of developing lymphomas and other malignancies, particularly of the skin, due to immunosuppression. Advise patients to limit exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) light by wearing protective clothing and using a broad spectrum sunscreen with a high protection factor [see Boxed Warning and Warnings and Precautions ( 5.1)].

17.3 Increased Risk of Infection

Inform patients they are at increased risk of developing a variety of infections, including opportunistic infections, due to immunosuppression and to contact their physician if they develop any symptoms of infection such as fever, sweats or chills, cough or flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, or warm, red, painful areas on the skin [see Boxed Warning and Warnings and Precautions (5.2)].

17.4 New Onset Diabetes After Transplant

Inform patients that tacrolimus capsules can cause diabetes mellitus and should be advised to contact their physician if they develop frequent urination, increased thirst, or hunger [see Warnings and Precautions ( 5.4)].

17.5 Nephrotoxicity

Inform patients that tacrolimus can have toxic effects on the kidney that should be monitored. Advise patients to attend all visits and complete all blood tests ordered by their medical team [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)].

17.6 Neurotoxicity

Inform patients that they are at risk of developing adverse neurologic reactions including seizure, altered mental status, and tremor. Advise patients to contact their physician should they develop vision changes, delirium, or tremors [see Warnings and Precautions ( 5.6)].

17.7 Hyperkalemia

Inform patients that tacrolimus can cause hyperkalemia. Monitoring of potassium levels may be necessary, especially with concomitant use of other drugs known to cause hyperkalemia [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7)].

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