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Acute renal failure
Cases of acute renal failure have been reported in patients with underlying renal disease who have received inappropriately high doses of FAMVIR for their level of renal function. Dosage reduction is recommended when administering FAMVIR to patients with renal impairment [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, Use in Specific Populations].
Patient Counseling Information
See FDA-Approved Patient Labeling (PATIENT INFORMATION)
There is no evidence that FAMVIR will affect the ability of a patient to drive or to use machines. However, patients who experience dizziness, somnolence, confusion or other central nervous system disturbances while taking FAMVIR should refrain from driving or operating machinery.
Because FAMVIR contains lactose (FAMVIR 125 mg, 250 mg and 500 mg tablets contain lactose 26.9 mg, 53.7 mg and 107.4 mg, respectively), patients with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, a severe lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption should be advised to discuss with their healthcare provider before taking FAMVIR.
Herpes Labialis (Cold Sores)
Patients should be advised to initiate treatment at the earliest sign or symptom of a recurrence of cold sores (e.g., tingling, itching, burning, pain, or lesion). Patients should be instructed that treatment for cold sores should not exceed 1 dose. Patients should be informed that FAMVIR is not a cure for cold sores.
Patients should be informed that FAMVIR is not a cure for genital herpes. There are no data evaluating whether FAMVIR will prevent transmission of infection to others. Because genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, patients should avoid contact with lesions or intercourse when lesions and/or symptoms are present to avoid infecting partners. Genital herpes is frequently transmitted in the absence of symptoms through asymptomatic viral shedding. Therefore, patients should be counseled to use safer sex practices.
If episodic therapy for recurrent genital herpes is indicated, patients should be advised to initiate therapy at the first sign or symptom of an episode.
There are no data on safety or effectiveness of chronic suppressive therapy of longer than 1-year duration.
Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
There are no data on treatment initiated more than 72 hours after onset of zoster rash. Patients should be advised to initiate treatment as soon as possible after a diagnosis of herpes zoster.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Two-year dietary carcinogenicity studies with famciclovir were conducted in rats and mice. An increase in the incidence of mammary adenocarcinoma (a common tumor in animals of this strain) was seen in female rats receiving the high dose of 600 mg/kg/day (1.1 to 4.5x the human systemic exposure at the recommended total daily oral dose ranging between 500 mg and 2000 mg, based on area under the plasma concentration curve comparisons [24 hr AUC] for penciclovir). No increases in tumor incidence were reported in male rats treated at doses up to 240 mg/kg/day (0.7 to 2.7x the human AUC), or in male and female mice at doses up to 600 mg/kg/day (0.3 to 1.2x the human AUC).
Famciclovir and penciclovir (the active metabolite of famciclovir) were tested for genotoxic potential in a battery of in vitro and in vivo assays. Famciclovir and penciclovir were negative in in vitro tests for gene mutations in bacteria (S. typhimurium and E. coli) and unscheduled DNA synthesis in mammalian HeLa 83 cells (at doses up to 10,000 and 5,000 mcg/plate, respectively). Famciclovir was also negative in the L5178Y mouse lymphoma assay (5000 mcg/mL), the in vivo mouse micronucleus test (4800 mg/kg), and rat dominant lethal study (5000 mg/kg). Famciclovir induced increases in polyploidy in human lymphocytes in vitro in the absence of chromosomal damage (1200 mcg/mL). Penciclovir was positive in the L5178Y mouse lymphoma assay for gene mutation/chromosomal aberrations, with and without metabolic activation (1000 mcg/mL). In human lymphocytes, penciclovir caused chromosomal aberrations in the absence of metabolic activation (250 mcg/mL). Penciclovir caused an increased incidence of micronuclei in mouse bone marrow in vivo when administered intravenously at doses highly toxic to bone marrow (500 mg/kg), but not when administered orally.
Impairment of fertility
Testicular toxicity was observed in rats, mice, and dogs following repeated administration of famciclovir or penciclovir. Testicular changes included atrophy of the seminiferous tubules, reduction in sperm count, and/or increased incidence of sperm with abnormal morphology or reduced motility. The degree of toxicity to male reproduction was related to dose and duration of exposure. In male rats, decreased fertility was observed after 10 weeks of dosing at 500 mg/kg/day (1.4 to 5.7x the human AUC). The no observable effect level for sperm and testicular toxicity in rats following chronic administration (26 weeks) was 50 mg/kg/day (0.15 to 0.6x the human systemic exposure based on AUC comparisons). Testicular toxicity was observed following chronic administration to mice (104 weeks) and dogs (26 weeks) at doses of 600 mg/kg/day (0.3 to 1.2x the human AUC) and 150 mg/kg/day (1.3 to 5.1x the human AUC), respectively.
Famciclovir had no effect on general reproductive performance or fertility in female rats at doses up to 1000 mg/kg/day (2.7 to 10.8x the human AUC).
Two placebo-controlled studies in a total of 130 otherwise healthy men with a normal sperm profile over an 8-week baseline period and recurrent genital herpes receiving oral FAMVIR (250 mg twice daily) (n=66) or placebo (n=64) therapy for 18 weeks showed no evidence of significant effects on sperm count, motility or morphology during treatment or during an 8-week follow-up.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy category B
After oral administration, famciclovir (prodrug) is converted to penciclovir (active drug). There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of famciclovir or penciclovir use in pregnant women. No adverse effects on embryofetal development were observed in animal reproduction studies using famciclovir and penciclovir at doses higher than the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) and human exposure. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, famciclovir should be used during pregnancy only if needed.
In animal reproduction studies, pregnant rats and rabbits received oral famciclovir at doses (up to 1000 mg/kg/day) that provided 2.7 to 10.8 times (rats) and 1.4 to 5.4 times (rabbits) the human systemic exposure based on AUC. No adverse effects were observed on embryo-fetal development. In other studies, pregnant rats and rabbits received intravenous famciclovir at doses (360 mg/kg/day) 1.5 to 6 times (rats) and (120 mg/kg/day) 1.1 to 4.5 times (rabbits) or penciclovir at doses (80 mg/kg/day) 0.3 to 1.3 times (rats) and (60 mg/kg/day) 0.5 to 2.1 times (rabbits) the MRHD based on body surface area comparisons. No adverse effects were observed on embryo-fetal development.
Pregnancy exposure reporting
To monitor maternal-fetal outcomes of pregnant women exposed to FAMVIR, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation maintains a FAMVIR Pregnancy Reporting system. Physicians are encouraged to report their patients by calling 1-888-NOW-NOVA (669-6682).
It is not known whether famciclovir (prodrug) or penciclovir (active drug) are excreted in human milk. Following oral administration of famciclovir to lactating rats, penciclovir was excreted in breast milk at concentrations higher than those seen in the plasma. There are no data on the safety of FAMVIR in infants. FAMVIR should not be used in nursing mothers unless the potential benefits are considered to outweigh the potential risks associated with treatment.
The efficacy of FAMVIR has not been established in pediatric patients. The pharmacokinetic profile and safety of famciclovir (experimental granules mixed with OraSweet® or tablets) were studied in 3 open-label studies.
Study 1 was a single-dose pharmacokinetic and safety study in infants 1 month to < 1 year of age who had an active herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection or who were at risk for HSV infection. Eighteen subjects were enrolled and received a single dose of famciclovir experimental granules mixed with OraSweet based on the patient's body weight (doses ranged from 25 mg to 175 mg). These doses were selected to provide penciclovir systemic exposures similar to the penciclovir systemic exposures observed in adults after administration of 500 mg famciclovir. The efficacy and safety of famciclovir have not been established as suppressive therapy in infants following neonatal HSV infections. In addition, the efficacy cannot be extrapolated from adults to infants because there is no similar disease in adults. Therefore, famciclovir is not recommended in infants.
Study 2 was an open-label, single-dose pharmacokinetic, multiple-dose safety study of famciclovir experimental granules mixed with OraSweet in children 1 to < 12 years of age with clinically suspected HSV or varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection. Fifty-one subjects were enrolled in the pharmacokinetic part of the study and received a single body weight adjusted dose of famciclovir (doses ranged from 125 mg to 500 mg). These doses were selected to provide penciclovir systemic exposures similar to the penciclovir systemic exposures observed in adults after administration of 500 mg famciclovir. Based on the pharmacokinetic data observed with these doses in children, a new weight-based dosing algorithm was designed and used in the multiple-dose safety part of the study. Pharmacokinetic data were not obtained with the revised weight-based dosing algorithm.
A total of 100 patients were enrolled in the multiple-dose safety part of the study; 47 subjects with active or latent HSV infection and 53 subjects with chickenpox. Patients with active or latent HSV infection received famciclovir twice a day for 7 days. The daily dose of famciclovir ranged from 150 mg to 500 mg twice daily depending on the patient's body weight. Patients with chickenpox received famciclovir three times daily for 7 days. The daily dose of famciclovir ranged from 150 mg to 500 mg three times daily depending on the patient's body weight. The clinical adverse events and laboratory test abnormalities observed in this study were similar to these seen in adults. The available data are insufficient to support the use of famciclovir for the treatment of children 1 to < 12 years of age with chickenpox or infections due to HSV for the following reasons:
The efficacy of famciclovir for the treatment of chickenpox has not been established in either pediatric or adult patients. Famciclovir is approved for the treatment of herpes zoster in adult patients. However, extrapolation of efficacy data from adults with herpes zoster to children with chickenpox would not be appropriate. Although chickenpox and herpes zoster are caused by the same virus, the diseases are different.
Clinical information on genital herpes in children is limited. Therefore, efficacy data from adults cannot be extrapolated to this population. Further, famciclovir has not been studied in children 1 to < 12 years of age with recurrent genital herpes. None of the children in Study 2 had genital herpes.
There are no pharmacokinetic and safety data in children 1 to < 12 years of age to support a famciclovir dose that provides penciclovir systemic exposures comparable to the penciclovir systemic exposures in adults after a single dose administration of 1500 mg. Moreover, no efficacy data have been obtained in children 1 to < 12 years of age with recurrent herpes labialis.
Study 3 was an open-label, single-arm study to evaluate the pharmacokinetics, safety, and antiviral activity of a single 1500 mg dose (three 500 mg tablets) of famciclovir in children 12 to < 18 years of age with recurrent herpes labialis. A total of 53 subjects were enrolled in the study; 10 subjects in the pharmacokinetic part of the study and 43 subjects in the non-pharmacokinetic part of the study. All enrolled subjects weighed ≥ 40 kg. The 43 subjects enrolled in the nonpharmacokinetic part of the study had active recurrent herpes labialis and received a single 1500 mg dose of famciclovir within 24 hours after the onset of symptoms (median time to treatment initiation was 21 hours). The safety profile of famciclovir observed in this study was similar to that seen in adults. The median time to healing of patients with non-aborted lesions was 5.9 days.
In a phase 3 trial in adults in which patients received a single 1500 mg dose of famciclovir or placebo, the median time to healing among patients with non-aborted lesions was 4.4 days in the famciclovir 1500 mg single-dose group and 6.2 days in the placebo group. Of note, in the adult study treatment was initiated by patients within 1 hour after the onset of symptoms [see Clinical Studies]. Based on the efficacy results in Study 3, famciclovir is not recommended in children 12 to < 18 years of age with recurrent herpes labialis.
Of 816 patients with herpes zoster in clinical studies who were treated with FAMVIR, 248 (30.4%) were ≥ 65 years of age and 103 (13%) were ≥ 75 years of age. No overall differences were observed in the incidence or types of adverse events between younger and older patients. Of 610 patients with recurrent herpes simplex (type 1 or type 2) in clinical studies who were treated with FAMVIR, 26 (4.3%) were > 65 years of age and 7 (1.1%) were > 75 years of age. Clinical studies of FAMVIR in patients with recurrent genital herpes did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently compared to younger subjects.
No famciclovir dosage adjustment based on age is recommended unless renal function is impaired [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. In general, appropriate caution should be exercised in the administration and monitoring of FAMVIR in elderly patients reflecting the greater frequency of decreased renal function and concomitant use of other drugs.
Patients with Renal Impairment
Apparent plasma clearance, renal clearance, and the plasma-elimination rate constant of penciclovir decreased linearly with reductions in renal function. After the administration of a single 500 mg famciclovir oral dose (n=27) to healthy volunteers and to volunteers with varying degrees of renal impairment (CLCR ranged from 6.4 to 138.8 mL/min), the following results were obtained (Table 4):
Table 4 : Pharmacokinetic Parameters of Penciclovir in
Subjects with Different Degrees of Renal Impairment
|Parameter (mean ± S.D.)||CLcr1 > 60 (mL/min)
|CLcr 40-59 (mL/min)
|CLcr 20-39 (mL/min)
|CLcr < 20 (mL/min)
|CLCR(mL/min)||88.1 ± 20.6||49.3 ± 5.9||26.5 ± 5.3||12.7 ± 5.9|
|CLR(L/hr)||30.1 ± 10.6||13.0 ± 1.3*||4.2 ± 0.9||1.6 ± 1.0|
|CL/F§ (L/hr)||66.9 ± 27.5||27.3 ± 2.8||12.8 ± 1.3||5.8 ± 2.8|
|Half-life (hr)||2.3 ± 0.5||3.4 ± 0.7||6.2 ± 1.6||13.4 ± 10.2|
|† CLCR is measured creatinine clearance.
§ CL/F consists of bioavailability factor and famciclovir to penciclovir conversion factor.
In a multiple-dose study of famciclovir conducted in subjects with varying degrees of renal impairment (n=18), the pharmacokinetics of penciclovir were comparable to those after single doses.
A dosage adjustment is recommended for patients with renal impairment [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Patients with Hepatic Impairment
Mild or moderate hepatic impairment (chronic hepatitis [n=6], chronic ethanol abuse [n=8], or primary biliary cirrhosis [n=1]) had no effect on the extent of availability (AUC) of penciclovir following a single dose of 500 mg famciclovir. However, there was a 44% decrease in penciclovir mean maximum plasma concentration (Cmax) and the time to maximum plasma concentration (tmax) was increased by 0.75 hours in patients with hepatic impairment compared to normal volunteers. No dosage adjustment is recommended for patients with mild or moderate hepatic impairment. The pharmacokinetics of penciclovir has not been evaluated in patients with severe hepatic impairment. Conversion of famciclovir to the active metabolite penciclovir may be impaired in these patients resulting in a lower penciclovir plasma concentrations, and thus possibly a decrease of efficacy of famciclovir (see section 12 CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY).
Black and African American Patients
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted in 304 immunocompetent black and African American adults with recurrent genital herpes there was no difference in median time to healing between patients receiving FAMVIR or placebo. In general, the adverse reaction profile was similar to that observed in other FAMVIR clinical trials for adult patients [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. The relevance of these study results to other indications in black and African American patients is unknown [see Clinical Studies].This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 5/14/2013
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