Patients receiving immunosuppressants, including tacrolimus, are at increased risk of developing lymphomas and other malignancies, particularly of the skin [see Boxed Warning]. The risk appears to be related to the intensity and duration of immunosuppression rather than to the use of any specific agent.
As usual for patients with increased risk for skin cancer, examine patients for skin changes; exposure to sunlight and UV light should be limited by wearing protective clothing and using a broad spectrum sunscreen with a high protection factor.
Post transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) has been reported in immunosuppressed organ transplant recipients. The majority of PTLD events appear related to Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) infection. The risk of PTLD appears greatest in those individuals who are EBV seronegative, a population which includes many young children. Monitor EBV serology during treatment.
Patients receiving immunosuppressants, including tacrolimus, are at increased risk of developing bacterial, viral, fungal, and protozoal infections, including opportunistic infections. These infections may lead to serious, including fatal, outcomes. Serious viral infections reported include:
- Polyoma virus-associated nephropathy (PVAN), mostly due to BK virus infection
- JC virus-associated progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML)
- Cytomegalovirus infections: CMV seronegative transplant patients who receive an organ from a CMV seropositive donor disease are at higher risk of developing CMV viremia and CMV disease.
Medication errors, including substitution and dispensing errors, between tacrolimus immediate-release products and tacrolimus extended-release products were reported outside the U.S. This led to serious adverse reactions, including graft rejection, or other adverse reactions due to under-or overexposure to tacrolimus. Tacrolimus is not interchangeable or substitutable for tacrolimus extended-release products. Changes between tacrolimus immediate-release and extended-release dosage forms must occur under physician supervision. Instruct patients and caregivers to recognize the appearance of tacrolimus dosage forms [see Dosage Forms and Strengths ( 3)] and to confirm with the healthcare provider if a different product is dispensed.
Tacrolimus was shown to cause new onset diabetes mellitus in clinical trials of kidney, liver and heart transplantation. New onset diabetes after transplantation may be reversible in some patients. African-American and Hispanic kidney transplant patients are at an increased risk. Blood glucose concentrations should be monitored closely in patients using tacrolimus [see Adverse Reactions ( 6.1)].
Tacrolimus, like other calcineurin inhibitors, can cause acute or chronic nephrotoxicity. Nephrotoxicity was reported in clinical trials [see Adverse Reactions ( 6.1)]. Consider dosage reduction in patients with elevated serum creatinine and tacrolimus whole blood trough concentrations greater than the recommended range. The risk for nephrotoxicity may increase when tacrolimus is concomitantly administered with CYP3A inhibitors (by increasing tacrolimus whole blood concentrations) or drugs associated with nephrotoxicity (e.g., aminoglycosides, ganciclovir, amphotericin B, cisplatin, nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors) [see Drug Interactions ( 7.2)]. Monitor renal function and consider dosage reduction if nephrotoxicity occurs.
Tacrolimus may cause a spectrum of neurotoxicities. The most severe neurotoxicities include posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES), delirium, seizure and coma, others include tremors, paresthesias, headache, mental status changes, and changes in motor and sensory functions [see Adverse Reactions ( 6.1, 6.2)]. As symptoms may be associated with tacrolimus whole blood trough concentrations at or above the recommended range, monitor for neurologic symptoms and consider dosage reduction or discontinuation of tacrolimus if neurotoxicity occurs.
Hyperkalemia has been reported with tacrolimus use. Serum potassium levels should be monitored. Careful consideration should be given prior to use of other agents also associated with hyperkalemia (e.g., potassium-sparing diuretics, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers) during tacrolimus therapy [see Adverse Reactions ( 6.1)]. Monitor serum potassium levels periodically during treatment.
Hypertension is a common adverse effect of tacrolimus therapy and may require antihypertensive therapy [see Adverse Reactions ( 6.1)]. The control of blood pressure can be accomplished with any of the common antihypertensive agents, though careful consideration should be given prior to use of antihypertensive agents associated with hyperkalemia (e.g., potassium-sparing diuretics, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers) [see Warnings and Precautions ( 5.7)]. Calcium-channel blocking agents may increase tacrolimus blood concentrations and therefore require dosage reduction of tacrolimus [see Drug Interactions ( 7.2)].
Anaphylactic reactions have occurred with injectables containing castor oil derivatives, including tacrolimus, in a small percentage of patients (0.6%). The exact cause of these reactions is not known. Tacrolimus injection should be reserved for patients who are unable to take tacrolimus orally. Monitor patients for anaphylaxis when using the intravenous route of administration [see Dosage and Administration ( 2.1)].
Tacrolimus capsules are not recommended for use with sirolimus:
- The use of sirolimus with tacrolimus in studies of de novo liver transplant patients was associated with an excess mortality, graft loss, and hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT) and is not recommended.
- The use of sirolimus (2 mg per day) with tacrolimus in heart transplant patients in a U.S. trial was associated with increased risk of renal function impairment, wound healing complications, and insulin-dependent post-transplant diabetes mellitus, and is not recommended [see Clinical Studies ( 14.3)].
When co-administering tacrolimus with strong CYP3A4 inhibitors (e.g., telaprevir, boceprevir, ritonavir, ketoconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole, clarithromycin) and strong inducers (e.g., rifampin, rifabutin) adjustments in the dosing regimen of tacrolimus and subsequent frequent monitoring of tacrolimus whole blood trough concentrations and tacrolimus-associated adverse reactions are recommended [see Drug Interactions ( 7)].
Tacrolimus may prolong the QT/QTc interval and may cause Torsade de Pointes. Avoid tacrolimus in patients with congenital long QT syndrome. In patients with congestive heart failure, bradyarrhythmias, those taking certain antiarrhythmic medications or other medicinal products that lead to QT prolongation, and those with electrolyte disturbances such as hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, or hypomagnesemia, consider obtaining electrocardiograms and monitoring electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, calcium) periodically during treatment.
When co-administering tacrolimus with other substrates and/or inhibitors of CYP3A4 that also have the potential to prolong the QT interval, a reduction in tacrolimus dose, frequent monitoring of tacrolimus whole blood concentrations, and monitoring for QT prolongation is recommended. Use of tacrolimus with amiodarone has been reported to result in increased tacrolimus whole blood concentrations with or without concurrent QT prolongation [see Drug Interactions ( 7)].
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