Tacrolimus (Page 3 of 12)

5.3 Not Interchangeable with Extended-Release Tacrolimus Products-Medication Errors

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.

5.4 New Onset Diabetes After Transplant

Tacrolimus was shown to cause new onset diabetes mellitus in clinical trials of kidney, liver, or 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)].

5.5 Nephrotoxicity

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.

5.6 Neurotoxicity

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.

5.7 Hyperkalemia

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.

5.8 Hypertension

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)].

5.9 Anaphylactic Reactions with Tacrolimus Injection

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)].

5.10 Not Recommended for Use with Sirolimus

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)].

5.11 Interactions with CYP3A4 Inhibitors and Inducers

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. A rapid, sharp rise in tacrolimus levels has been reported after co-administration with a strong CYP3A4 inhibitor, clarithromycin, despite an initial reduction of tacrolimus dose. Early and frequent monitoring of tacrolimus whole blood trough levels is recommended [see Drug Interactions (7.2)].

5.12 QT Prolongation

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 (7.2)].

5.13 Myocardial Hypertrophy

Myocardial hypertrophy has been reported in infants, children, and adults, particularly those with high tacrolimus trough concentrations, and is generally manifested by echocardiographically demonstrated concentric increases in left ventricular posterior wall and interventricular septum thickness. This condition appears reversible in most cases following dose reduction or discontinuance of therapy. In patients who develop renal failure or clinical manifestations of ventricular dysfunction while receiving tacrolimus therapy, echocardiographic evaluation should be considered. If myocardial hypertrophy is diagnosed, dosage reduction or discontinuation of tacrolimus should be considered [see Adverse Reactions (6.2)].

5.14 Immunizations

Whenever possible, administer the complete complement of vaccines before transplantation and treatment with tacrolimus.

The use of live vaccines should be avoided during treatment with tacrolimus; examples include (not limited to) the following: intranasal influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, oral polio, BCG, yellow fever, varicella, and TY21a typhoid vaccines.

Inactivated vaccines noted to be safe for administration after transplantation may not be sufficiently immunogenic during treatment with tacrolimus.

5.15 Pure Red Cell Aplasia

Cases of pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) have been reported in patients treated with tacrolimus. A mechanism for tacrolimus-induced PRCA has not been elucidated. All patients reported risk factors for PRCA such as parvovirus B19 infection, underlying disease, or concomitant medications associated with PRCA. If PRCA is diagnosed, discontinuation of tacrolimus should be considered [see Adverse Reactions (6.2)].


The following serious and otherwise important adverse drug reactions are discussed in greater detail in other sections of labeling:

  • Lymphoma and Other Malignancies [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)]
  • Serious Infections [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)]
  • New Onset Diabetes After Transplant [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4)]
  • Nephrotoxicity [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)]
  • Neurotoxicity [see Warnings and Precautions (5.6)]
  • Hyperkalemia [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7)]
  • Hypertension [see Warnings and Precautions (5.8)]
  • Anaphylactic Reactions with Tacrolimus Injection [see Warnings and Precautions (5.9)]
  • Myocardial Hypertrophy [see Warnings and Precautions (5.13)]
  • Pure Red Cell Aplasia [see Warnings and Precautions (5.15)]

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