VIDAZA- azacitidine injection, powder, lyophilized, for suspension
Pharmion Corporation

Rx only

For subcutaneous use only


Vidaza™ (azacitidine for injectable suspension) contains azacitidine, which is a pyrimidine nucleoside analog of cytidine. Azacitidine is 4-amino-1-β-D-ribofuranosyl-s-triazin-2(1H)-one. The structural formula is as follows:

Image from Drug Label Content

The empirical formula is C8 H12 N4 O5. The molecular weight is 244. Azacitidine is a white to off-white solid. Azacitidine was found to be insoluble in acetone, ethanol, and methyl ethyl ketone; slightly soluble in ethanol/water (50/50), propylene glycol, and polyethylene glycol; sparingly soluble in water, water saturated octanol, 5% dextrose in water, N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, normal saline and 5% Tween 80 in water; and soluble in dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO).

The finished product is supplied in a sterile form for reconstitution and subcutaneous injection only. Vials of Vidaza contain 100 mg of azacitidine and 100 mg mannitol as a sterile lyophilized powder.


Mechanism of Action

Vidaza is believed to exert its antineoplastic effects by causing hypomethylation of DNA and direct cytotoxicity on abnormal hematopoietic cells in the bone marrow. The concentration of azacitidine required for maximum inhibition of DNA methylation in vitro does not cause major suppression of DNA synthesis. Hypomethylation may restore normal function to genes that are critical for differentiation and proliferation. The cytotoxic effects of azacitidine cause the death of rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells that are no longer responsive to normal growth control mechanisms. Non-proliferating cells are relatively insensitive to Vidaza.


The pharmacokinetics of azacitidine were studied in six MDS patients following a single 75 mg/m2 subcutaneous (SC) dose and a single 75 mg/m2 intravenous (IV) dose. Azacitidine is rapidly absorbed after SC administration; the peak plasma azacitidine concentration of 750 ± 403 ng/ml occurred in 0.5 hour. The bioavailability of SC azacitidine relative to IV azacitidine is approximately 89%, based on area under the curve. Mean volume of distribution following IV dosing is 76 ± 26 L. Mean apparent SC clearance is 167 ± 49 L/hour and mean half-life after SC administration is 41 ± 8 minutes.

Published studies indicate that urinary excretion is the primary route of elimination of azacitidine and its metabolites. Following IV administration of radioactive azacitidine to 5 cancer patients, the cumulative urinary excretion was 85% of the radioactive dose. Fecal excretion accounted for <1% of administered radioactivity over three days. Mean excretion of radioactivity in urine following SC administration of 14 C-azacitidine was 50%. The mean elimination half-lives of total radioactivity (azacitidine and its metabolites) were similar after IV and SC administrations, about 4 hours.

Special Populations

The effects of renal or hepatic impairment, gender, age, or race on the pharmacokinetics of azacitidine have not been studied (see CONTRAINDICATIONS, PRECAUTIONS and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Drug-Drug Interactions

Drug interaction studies with azacitidine have not been conducted.

An in vitro study of azacitidine incubation in human liver fractions indicated that azacitidine may be metabolized by the liver. Whether azacitidine metabolism may be affected by known microsomal enzyme inhibitors or inducers has not been studied.

The potential of azacitidine to inhibit cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is not known.

In vitro studies with human cultured hepatocytes indicate that azacitidine at concentrations of 1.0 μM to 100 μM does not induce CYP 1A2, 2C19, or 3A4/5.


A randomized, open-label, controlled trial carried out in 53 U.S. sites compared the safety and efficacy of subcutaneous Vidaza plus supportive care with supportive care alone (“observation”) in patients with any of the five FAB subtypes of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS): refractory anemia (RA), RA with ringed sideroblasts (RARS), RA with excess blasts (RAEB), RAEB in transformation (RAEB-T), and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMMoL). RA and RARS patients were included if they met one or more of the following criteria: required packed RBC transfusions; had platelet counts ≤ 50.0 x 109 /L; required platelet transfusions; or were neutropenic (ANC < 1.0 x 109 /L) with infections requiring treatment with antibiotics. Patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) were not intended to be included. Baseline patient and disease characteristics are summarized in Table 1; the 2 groups were similar.

Vidaza was administered at a subcutaneous dose of 75 mg/m2 daily for seven days every four weeks. The dose was increased to 100 mg/m2 if no beneficial effect was seen after two treatment cycles. The dose was decreased and/or delayed based on hematologic response or evidence of renal toxicity. Patients in the observation arm were allowed by protocol to cross over to Vidaza if they had increases in bone marrow blasts, decreases in hemoglobin, increases in red cell transfusion requirements, or decreases in platelets, or if they required a platelet transfusion or developed a clinical infection requiring treatment with antibiotics. For purposes of assessing efficacy, the primary endpoint was response rate (as defined in Table 2).

Of the 191 patients included in the study, independent review (adjudicated diagnosis) found that 19 had the diagnosis of AML at baseline. These patients were excluded from the primary analysis of response rate, although they were included in an intent-to-treat (ITT) analysis of all patients randomized. Approximately 55% of the patients randomized to observation crossed over to receive Vidaza treatment.

Table 1. Baseline Demographics and Disease Characteristics
Vidaza(N=99) Observation(N=92)
Gender (n%)
Male 72 (72.7) 60 (65.2)
Female 27 (27.3) 32 (34.8)
Race (n%)
White 93 (93.9) 85 (92.4)
Black 1 (1.0) 1 (1.1)
Hispanic 3 (3.0) 5 (5.4)
Asian/Oriental 2 (2.0) 1 (1.1)
Age (years)
N 99 91
Mean ± SD 67.3 ± 10.39 68.0 ± 10.23
Range 31 — 92 35 — 88
Adjudicated MDS diagnosis at study entry (n%)
RA 21 (21.2) 18 (19.6)
RARS 6 (6.1) 5 (5.4)
RAEB 38 (38.4) 39 (42.4)
RAEB-T 16 (16.2) 14 (15.2)
CMMoL 8 (8.1) 7 (7.6)
AML 10 (10.1) 9 (9.8)
Transfusion product used in 3 months before study entry (n%)
Any transfusion product 70 (70.7) 59 (64.1)
Blood cells, packed human 66 (66.7) 55 (59.8)
Platelets, human blood 15 (15.2) 12 (13.0)
Hetastarch 0(0.0) 1(1.1)
Plasma protein fraction 1(1.0) 0(0.0)
Other 2(2.0) 2(2.2)
Table 2. Response Criteria
Complete Response (CR), duration ≥ 4 weeks Marrow < 5% blasts
Peripheral Blood Normal CBC if abnormal at baselineAbsence of blasts in the peripheral circulation
Partial Response (PR), duration ≥ 4 weeks Marrow No marrow requirements ≥50% decrease in blastsImprovement of marrow dyspoiesis
Peripheral Blood ≥50% restoration in the deficit from normal levels of baseline white cells, hemoglobin and platelets if abnormal at baselineNo blasts in the peripheral circulationFor CMMoL, if WBC is elevated at baseline, a ≥ 75% reduction in the excess count over the upper limit of normal

The overall response rate (CR +PR) of 15.7% in Vidaza-treated patients without AML (16.2% for all Vidaza randomized patients including AML) was statistically significantly higher than the response rate of 0% in the observation group (p<0.0001) (Table 3). The majority of patients who achieved either CR or PR had either 2 or 3 cell line abnormalities at baseline (79%; 11/14) and had elevated bone marrow blasts or were transfusion dependent at baseline. Patients responding to Vidaza had a decrease in bone marrow blasts percentage, or an increase in platelets, hemoglobin or WBC. Greater than 90% of the responders initially demonstrated these changes by the 5th treatment cycle. All patients who had been transfusion dependent became transfusion independent during PR or CR. The mean and median duration of clinical response of PR or better was estimated as 512 and 330 days, respectively; 75% of the responding patients were still in PR or better at completion of treatment. Response occurred in all MDS subtypes as well as in patients with adjudicated baseline diagnosis of AML.

Table 3. Response Rates
Vidaza(N=89) Observation Before Crossover(N=83)
Response n (%) N (%) P value
Overall (CR+PR) 14 (15.7) 0 ( 0.0) (<0.0001)
Complete (CR) 5 ( 5.6) 0 ( 0.0) (0.06)
Partial (PR) 9 (10.1) 0 ( 0.0)

Patients in the observation group who crossed over to receive Vidaza treatment (47 patients) had a response rate of 12.8%.

A multi-center, open-label, single-arm study of 72 patients with RAEB, RAEB-T, CMMoL, or AML was also carried out. Treatment with subcutaneous Vidaza resulted in a response rate (CR + PR) of 13.9%, using criteria similar to those described above. The mean and median duration of clinical response of PR or better was estimated as 810 and 430 days, respectively; 80% of the responding patients were still in PR or better at the time of completion of study involvement. In another open-label, single-arm study of 48 patients with RAEB, RAEB-T, or AML, treatment with intravenous Vidaza resulted in a response rate of 18.8%, again using criteria similar to those described above. The mean and median duration of clinical response of PR or better was estimated as 389 and 281 days, respectively; 67% of the responding patients were still in PR or better at the time of completion of treatment. Response occurred in all MDS subtypes as well as in patients with adjudicated baseline diagnosis of AML in both of these studies. Vidaza dosage regimens in these 2 studies were similar to the regimen used in the controlled study.

Benefit was seen in patients who did not meet the criteria for PR or better, but were considered “improved.” About 24% of Vidaza-treated patients were considered improved, and about 2/3 of those lost transfusion dependence. In the observation group, only 5/83 patients met criteria for improvement; none lost transfusion dependence. In all three studies, about 19% of patients met criteria for improvement with a median duration of 195 days.

Response rate estimates were similar regardless of age or gender.

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