November 25, 2015



Mechanism Of Action

Interferons bind to specific cell surface receptors and initiate a sequence of intracellular events that lead to the transcription of interferon-stimulated genes. The three major groups of interferons (alpha, beta, gamma) have partially overlapping biological activities that include immunoregulation such as increased resistance to microbial pathogens and inhibition of cell proliferation. Type 1 interferons (alpha and beta) bind to the alpha/ beta receptor. Interferon gamma binds to a different cell surface receptor and is classified as Type 2 interferon. Specific effects of interferon gamma include the enhancement of the oxidative metabolism of macro-phages, antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), activation of natural killer (NK) cells, and the expression of Fc receptors and major histocompatibility antigens.

CGD is an inherited disorder of leukocyte function caused by defects in the enzyme complex responsible for phagocyte superoxide generation. ACTIMMUNE does not increase phagocyte superoxide production even in treatment responders.

In SMO (an inherited disorder characterized by an osteoclast defect, leading to bone overgrowth, and by deficient phagocyte oxidative metabolism), a treatment-related enhancement of superoxide production by phagocytes was observed. ACTIMMUNE was found to enhance osteoclast function in vivo.

In both disorders, the exact mechanism(s) by which ACTIMMUNE has a treatment effect has not been established. Changes in superoxide levels during ACTIMMUNE therapy do not predict efficacy and should not be used to assess patient response to therapy.


Pharmacokinetic studies in patients with CGD have not been performed. The intravenous, intramuscular, and subcutaneous pharmacokinetics of ACTIMMUNE have been investigated in 24 healthy male subjects following single-dose administration of 100 mcg/m² (twice the recommended dose for CGD and SMO patients). ACTIMMUNE is rapidly cleared after intravenous administration (1.4 Liters/minute) and slowly absorbed after intramuscular or subcutaneous injection. After intramuscular or subcutaneous injection, the apparent fraction of dose absorbed was greater than 89%. The mean elimination half-life after intravenous administration of 100 mcg/m² in healthy male subjects was 38 minutes. The mean elimination half-lives for intramuscular and subcutaneous dosing with 100 mcg/m² were 2.9 and 5.9 hours, respectively. Peak plasma concentrations, determined by ELISA, occurred approximately 4 hours (1.5 ng/mL) after intramuscular dosing and 7 hours (0.6 ng/mL) after subcutaneous dosing. Multiple dose subcutaneous pharmacokinetic studies were conducted in 38 healthy male subjects. There was no accumulation of ACTIMMUNE after 12 consecutive daily injections of 100 mcg/m² .

Interferon gamma was not detected in the urine of healthy human volunteers following administration of 100 mcg/m² of ACTIMMUNE by the intravenous, intramuscular and subcutaneous routes. In vitro perfusion studies utilizing rabbit livers and kidneys demonstrate that these organs are capable of clearing interferon gamma from perfusate.

Clinical Studies

Effects In Chronic Granulomatous Disease (CGD)

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of ACTIMMUNE (interferon gamma-1b) in patients with CGD, was performed to determine whether ACTIMMUNE administered subcutaneously on a three times weekly schedule could decrease the incidence of serious infectious episodes and improve existing infectious and inflammatory conditions in patients with CGD. One hundred twenty-eight eligible patients were enrolled in this trial including patients with different patterns of inheritance. Most patients received prophylactic antibiotics. Patients ranged in age from 1 to 44 years with the mean age being 14.6 years. The study was terminated early following demonstration of a highly statistically significant benefit of ACTIMMUNE therapy compared to placebo with respect to time to serious infection (p=0.0036), the primary endpoint of the investigation. Serious infection was defined as a clinical event requiring hospitalization and the use of parenteral antibiotics. The final analysis provided further support for the primary endpoint (p=0.0006). There was a 67 percent reduction in relative risk of serious infection in patients receiving ACTIMMUNE (n=63) compared to placebo (n=65). Additional supportive evidence of treatment benefit included a twofold reduction in the number of primary serious infections in the ACTIMMUNE group (30 on placebo versus 14 on ACTIMMUNE, p=0.002) and the total number and rate of serious infections including recurrent events (56 on placebo versus 20 on ACTIMMUNE, p= < 0.0001). Moreover, the length of hospitalization for the treatment of all clinical events provided evidence highly supportive of an ACTIMMUNE treatment benefit. Placebo patients required three times as many inpatient hospitalization days for treatment of clinical events compared to patients receiving ACTIMMUNE (1493 versus 497 total days, p=0.02). An ACTIMMUNE treatment benefit with respect to time to serious infection was consistently demonstrated in all subgroup analyses according to stratification factors, including pattern of inheritance, use of prophylactic antibiotics, as well as age. There was a 67 percent reduction in relative risk of serious infection in patients receiving ACTIMMUNE compared to placebo across all groups. The beneficial effect of ACTIMMUNE therapy was observed throughout the entire study, in which the mean duration of ACTIMMUNE administration was 8.9 months/patient.

Effects In Severe, Malignant Osteopetrosis (SMO)

A controlled, randomized trial in patients with SMO was conducted with ACTIMMUNE administered subcutaneously three times weekly. Sixteen patients were randomized to receive either ACTIMMUNE plus calcitriol (n=11), or calcitriol alone (n=5). Patients ranged in age from 1 month to 8 years, mean 1.5 years. Treatment failure was considered to be disease progression as defined by 1) death, 2) significant reduction in hemoglobin or platelet counts, 3) a serious bacterial infection requiring antibiotics, or 4) a 50 dB decrease in hearing or progressive optic atrophy. The median time to disease progression was significantly delayed in the ACTIMMUNE plus calcitriol arm versus calcitriol alone. In the treatment arm, the median was not reached. Based on the observed data, however, the median time to progression in this arm was at least 165 days versus a median of 65 days in the calcitriol alone arm. In an analysis which combined data from a second study, 19 of 24 patients treated with ACTIMMUNE plus or minus calcitriol for at least 6 months had reduced trabecular bone volume compared to baseline.

Last reviewed on RxList: 10/12/2015
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Actimmune - User Reviews

Actimmune User Reviews

Now you can gain knowledge and insight about a drug treatment with Patient Discussions.

Here is a collection of user reviews for the medication Actimmune sorted by most helpful. Patient Discussions FAQs

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration


You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Women's Health

Find out what women really need.

Related Drugs
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations