"Nov. 2, 2012 -- Safety steps taken in the wake of the fungal meningitis outbreak have worsened drug shortages, raising questions about whether the U.S. must choose between the safety and the availability of crucial medicines.
Cardiovascular Thrombotic Events
Clinical trials of several COX-2 selective and nonselective NSAIDs of up to three years duration have shown an increased risk of serious cardiovascular (CV) thrombotic events, myocardial infarction, and stroke, which can be fatal. All NSAIDs, both COX-2 selective and nonselective, may have a similar risk. Patients with known CV disease or risk factors for CV disease may be at greater risk. To minimize the potential risk for an adverse CV event in patients treated with an NSAID, use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration possible. Physicians and patients should remain alert for the development of such events, even in the absence of previous CV symptoms. Inform patients about the signs and/or symptoms of serious CV events and the steps to take if they occur.
Two large, controlled, clinical trials of a COX-2 selective NSAID for the treatment of pain in the first 10-14 days following CABG surgery found an increased incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].
There is no consistent evidence that concurrent use of aspirin mitigates the increased risk of serious CV thrombotic events associated with NSAID use. The concurrent use of aspirin and NSAIDs, such as diclofenac, does increase the risk of serious GI events [see Gastrointestinal Effects – Risk Of GI Ulceration, Bleeding, And Perforation].
Gastrointestinal Effects – Risk Of GI Ulceration, Bleeding, And Perforation
NSAIDs, including diclofenac, can cause serious gastrointestinal (GI) adverse events including bleeding, ulceration, and perforation of the stomach, small intestine, or large intestine, which can be fatal. These serious adverse events can occur at any time, with or without warning symptoms, in patients treated with NSAIDs. Only one in five patients, who develop a serious upper GI adverse event on NSAID therapy, is symptomatic. Upper GI ulcers, gross bleeding, or perforation caused by NSAIDs occur in approximately 1% of patients treated for 3-6 months, and in about 2-4% of patients treated for one year. These trends continue with longer duration of use, increasing the likelihood of developing a serious GI event at some time during the course of therapy. However, even short-term therapy is not without risk.
Prescribe NSAIDs, including Flector Patch, with extreme caution in those with a prior history of ulcer disease or gastrointestinal bleeding. Patients with a prior history of peptic ulcer disease and/or gastrointestinal bleeding who use NSAIDs have a greater than 10-fold increased risk for developing a GI bleed compared to patients with neither of these risk factors. Other factors that increase the risk for GI bleeding in patients treated with NSAIDs include concomitant use of oral corticosteroids or anticoagulants, longer duration of NSAID therapy, smoking, use of alcohol, older age, and poor general health status. Most spontaneous reports of fatal GI events are in elderly or debilitated patients and therefore, special care should be taken in treating this population.
To minimize the potential risk for an adverse GI event, use the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible duration. Physicians and patients should remain alert for signs and symptoms of GI ulceration and bleeding during diclofenac therapy and promptly initiate additional evaluation and treatment if a serious GI adverse event is suspected. For high risk patients, consider alternate therapies that do not involve NSAIDs.
Borderline elevations (less than 3 times the upper limit of the normal [ULN] range) or greaterelevations of transaminases occurred in about 15% of oral diclofenac-treated patients in clinical trials of indications other than acute pain. Of the markers of hepatic function, ALT (SGPT) is recommended for the monitoring of liver injury.
In clinical trials of an oral diclofenac – misoprostol combination product, meaningful elevations (i.e., more than 3 times the ULN) of AST (SGOT) occurred in about 2% of approximately 5,700 patients at some time during diclofenac treatment (ALT was not measured in all studies).
In an open-label, controlled trial of 3,700 patients treated for 2-6 months, patients with oral diclofenac were monitored first at 8 weeks and 1,200 patients were monitored again at 24 weeks. Meaningful elevations of ALT and/or AST occurred in about 4% of the 3,700 patients and included marked elevations ( > 8 times the ULN) in about 1% of the 3,700 patients. In this openlabel study, a higher incidence of borderline (less than 3 times the ULN), moderate (3-8 times the ULN), and marked ( > 8 times the ULN) elevations of ALT or AST was observed in patients receiving diclofenac when compared to other NSAIDs. Elevations in transaminases were seen more frequently in patients with osteoarthritis than in those with rheumatoid arthritis. Almost all meaningful elevations in transaminases were detected before patients became symptomatic.
Abnormal tests occurred during the first 2 months of therapy with oral diclofenac in 42 of the 51 patients in all trials who developed marked transaminase elevations. In postmarketing reports, cases of drug-induced hepatotoxicity have been reported in the first month, and in some cases, the first 2 months of therapy, but can occur at any time during treatment with diclofenac. Postmarketing surveillance has reported cases of severe hepatic reactions, including liver necrosis, jaundice, fulminant hepatitis with and without jaundice, and liver failure. Some of these reported cases resulted in fatalities or liver transplantation.
Measure transaminases (ALT and AST) periodically in patients receiving long-term therapy with diclofenac, because severe hepatotoxicity may develop without a prodrome of distinguishing symptoms. The optimum times for making the first and subsequent transaminase measurements are not known. Based on clinical trial data and postmarketing experiences, monitor transaminases within 4 to 8 weeks after initiating treatment with diclofenac. However, severe hepatic reactions can occur at any time during treatment with diclofenac.
If abnormal liver tests persist or worsen, if clinical signs and/or symptoms consistent with liver disease develop, or if systemic manifestations occur (e.g. eosinophilia, rash, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine, etc.), discontinue Flector Patch immediately. To minimize the possibility that hepatic injury will become severe between transaminase measurements, inform patients of the warning signs and symptoms of hepatotoxicity (e.g., nausea, fatigue, lethargy, diarrhea, pruritus, jaundice, right upper quadrant tenderness, and “flu-like” symptoms), and the appropriate action patients should take if these signs and symptoms appear.
To minimize the potential risk for an adverse liver related event in patients treated with Flector Patch, the lowest effective dose should be used for the shortest duration possible. Exercise caution when prescribing Flector Patch with concomitant drugs that are known to be potentially hepatotoxic (e.g., acetaminophen, certain antibiotics, anti-epileptics). Caution patients to avoid taking unprescribed acetaminophen while using Flector Patch.
NSAIDs, including Flector Patch, can lead to new onset or worsening of pre-existing hypertension, either of which may contribute to the increased incidence of CV events. Use Flector Patch, with caution in patients with hypertension. Monitor blood pressure (BP) closely during the initiation of treatment and throughout the course of therapy.
Patients taking ACE inhibitors, thiazides or loop diuretics may have impaired response to these therapies when taking NSAIDs.
Congestive Heart Failure And Edema
Fluid retention and edema have been observed in some patients taking NSAIDs, including Flector Patch. Use Flector Patch with caution in patients with fluid retention or heart failure.
Use caution when initiating treatment with Flector Patch in patients with considerable dehydration.
Long-term administration of NSAIDs has resulted in renal papillary necrosis and other renal injury. Renal toxicity has also been seen in patients in whom renal prostaglandins have a compensatory role in the maintenance of renal perfusion. In these patients, administration of an NSAID may cause a dose-dependent reduction in prostaglandin formation and, secondarily, in renal blood flow, which may precipitate overt renal decompensation. Patients at greatest risk of this reaction are those with impaired renal function, heart failure, liver dysfunction, those taking diuretics and ACE inhibitors, and the elderly. Discontinuation of NSAID therapy is usually followed by recovery to the pretreatment state.
No information is available from controlled clinical studies regarding the use of Flector Patch in patients with advanced renal disease. Therefore, treatment with Flector Patch is not recommended in these patients with advanced renal disease. If Flector Patch therapy is initiated, close monitoring of the patient's renal function is advisable.
As with other NSAIDs, anaphylactic reactions may occur both in patients with the aspirin triad and in patients without known sensitivity to NSAIDs or prior exposure to Flector Patch. Do not prescribe Flector Patch to patients with the aspirin triad. This symptom complex typically occurs in asthmatic patients who experience rhinitis with or without nasal polyps, or who exhibit severe, potentially fatal bronchospasm after taking aspirin or other NSAIDs. Anaphylaxis type reactions have been reported with NSAID products, including diclofenac products, such as Flector Patch [see CONTRAINDICATIONS and Preexisting Asthma]. Seek emergency help in cases where an anaphylactic reaction occurs.
NSAIDs, including Flector Patch, can cause serious skin adverse events such as exfoliative dermatitis, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which can be fatal. These serious events may occur without warning. Inform patients about the signs and symptoms of serious skin manifestations, and discontinue use of the drug at the first appearance of skin rash or any other signs of hypersensitivity.
Starting at 30 weeks gestation, Flector Patch, and other NSAIDs, should be avoided by pregnant women as premature closure of the ductus arteriosus in the fetus may occur [see Use In Specific Populations].
Flector Patch cannot be expected to substitute for corticosteroids or to treat corticosteroid insufficiency. Abrupt discontinuation of corticosteroids may lead to disease exacerbation. Slowly taper patients on prolonged corticosteroid therapy if a decision is made to discontinue corticosteroids.
The pharmacological activity of Flector Patch in reducing inflammation may diminish the utility of these diagnostic signs in detecting complications of presumed noninfectious, painful conditions.
Anemia is sometimes seen in patients receiving NSAIDs. This may be due to fluid retention, occult or gross GI blood loss, or an incompletely described effect upon erythropoiesis. Patients on long-term treatment with NSAIDs, including Flector Patch, should have their hemoglobin or hematocrit checked if they exhibit any signs or symptoms of anemia.
NSAIDs inhibit platelet aggregation and have been shown to prolong bleeding time in some patients. Unlike aspirin, their effect on platelet function is quantitatively less, of shorter duration, and reversible. Carefully monitor patients receiving Flector Patch who may be adversely affected by alterations in platelet function, such as those with coagulation disorders or patients receiving anticoagulants.
Patients with asthma may have aspirin-sensitive asthma. The use of aspirin in patients with aspirin-sensitive asthma has been associated with severe bronchospasm, which can be fatal. Since cross reactivity, including bronchospasm, between aspirin and other nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs has been reported in such aspirin-sensitive patients, do not administer Flector Patch to patients with this form of aspirin sensitivity and use with caution in patients with preexisting asthma.
Accidental Exposure In Children
Even a used Flector Patch contains a large amount of diclofenac epolamine (as much as 170 mg). The potential therefore exists for a small child or pet to suffer serious adverse effects from chewing or ingesting a new or used Flector Patch. It is important for patients to store and dispose of Flector Patch out of the reach of children and pets.
Avoid contact of Flector Patch with eyes and mucosa. Advise patients that if eye contact occurs, immediately wash out the eye with water or saline and consult a physician if irritation persists for more than an hour.
Oral Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs
Concomitant use of oral and topical NSAIDs may result in a higher rate of hemorrhage, more frequent abnormal creatinine, urea and hemoglobin. Do not use combination therapy with Flector Patch and an oral NSAID unless the benefit outweighs the risk.
Because serious GI tract ulcerations and bleeding can occur without warning symptoms, monitor for signs or symptoms of GI bleeding. Check CBC and a chemistry profile periodically in patients on long-term treatment with NSAIDs. Discontinue Flector Patch if abnormal liver tests or renal tests persist or worsen.
Patient Counseling Information
See Medication Guide
Information On Medication Guide
Inform patients of the following information before initiating therapy with an NSAID and periodically during the course of ongoing therapy. Encourage patients to read the NSAID Medication Guide that accompanies each prescription dispensed prior to using Flector Patch.
Flector Patch, like other NSAIDs, may cause serious CV side effects, such as MI or stroke, which may result in hospitalization and even death. Although serious CV events can occur without warning symptoms, instruct patients to be alert for the signs and symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, slurring of speech, and to ask for medical advice when observing any indicative sign or symptoms. Inform patients of the importance of this follow-up [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Flector Patch, like other NSAIDs, may cause GI discomfort and, rarely, serious GI side effects, such as ulcers and bleeding, which may result in hospitalization and even death. Although serious GI tract ulcerations and bleeding can occur without warning symptoms, inform patients to be alert for the signs and symptoms of ulceration and bleeding, and to ask for medical advice when observing any indicative sign or symptoms including epigastric pain, dyspepsia, melena, and hematemesis. Instruct patients of the importance of this follow-up [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Adverse Skin Reactions
Flector Patch, like other NSAIDs, can cause serious skin side effects such as exfoliative dermatitis, SJS, and TEN, which may result in hospitalizations and even death. Although serious systemic skin reactions may occur without warning, instruct patients to be alert for the signs and symptoms of skin rash and blisters, fever, or other signs of hypersensitivity such as itching, and to ask for medical advice when observing any indicative signs or symptoms [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Advise patients to stop Flector Patch immediately if they develop any type of generalized rash and contact their physicians as soon as possible.
Flector Patch can cause a localized skin reaction at the application site. Advise patients to contact their physicians as soon as possible if they develop any type of localized application site rash.
Instruct patients not to apply Flector Patch to open skin wounds or infections.
Inform patients of the warning signs and symptoms of hepatotoxicity (e.g., nausea, fatigue, lethargy, pruritus, jaundice, right upper quadrant tenderness, and “flu-like” symptoms). If these occur, instruct patients to stop therapy with Flector Patch and seek immediate medical therapy [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Weight Gain And Edema
Patients should promptly report to their physician signs or symptoms of unexplained weight gain or edema following treatment with Flector Patch [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Inform patients of the signs of an anaphylactic reaction (e.g. difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat). If these occur, instruct patients to seek immediate emergency help. Anaphylaxis type reactions have been reported with diclofenac products, including Flector Patch [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Inform patients not to use Flector Patch if they have an aspirin-sensitive asthma. Flector Patch, like other NSAIDs, could cause severe and even fatal bronchospasm in these patients [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Instruct patients to discontinue use of Flector Patch and to immediately seek emergency help if they experience wheezing or shortness of breath.
Instruct patients to avoid contact of Flector Patch with the eyes and mucosa. Advise patients that if eye contact occurs, immediately wash out the eye with water or saline and consult a physician if irritation persists for more than an hour [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Effects During Pregnancy
Starting at 30 weeks gestation, instruct patients to avoid the use of Flector Patch and other NSAIDS, as premature closure of the ductus arteriosus in the fetus may occur [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and Use in Specific Populations].
General Information On Use
- Instruct patients and caregivers to wash their hands after applying, handling or removing the patch.
- Inform patients that, if Flector Patch begins to peel off, the edges of the patch may be taped down. If problems with adhesion persist, patients may overlay the patch with a mesh netting sleeve, where appropriate (e.g. to secure patches applied to ankles, knees, or elbows). The mesh netting sleeve (e.g. Curad® Hold Tite™, Surgilast® Tubular Elastic Dressing) must allow air to pass through and not be occlusive (non-breathable).
- Instruct patients not to wear Flector Patch during bathing or showering. Bathing should take place in between scheduled patch removal and application [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
- Instruct patients to store Flector Patch and to discard used patches out of the reach of children and pets. If a child or pet accidentally ingests Flector Patch, instruct patients to seek medical help immediately [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
- Inform patients that Flector Patch should be used only on intact skin.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
Long-term studies in animals have not been performed to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of either diclofenac epolamine or Flector Patch.
Diclofenac epolamine is not mutagenic in Salmonella typhimurium strains, nor does it induce an increase in metabolic aberrations in cultured human lymphocytes, or the frequency of micronucleated cells in the bone marrow micronucleus test performed in rats.
Impairment Of Fertility
Male and female Sprague Dawley rats were administered 1, 3, or 6 mg/kg/day diclofenac epolamine via oral gavage (males treated for 60 days prior to conception and during mating period, females treated for 14 days prior to mating through day 19 of gestation). Diclofenac epolamine treatment with 6 mg/kg/day resulted in increased early resorptions and postimplantation losses; however, no effects on the mating and fertility indices were found. The 6 mg/kg/day dose corresponds to 3-times the maximum recommended daily exposure in humans based on a body surface area comparison.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category C prior to 30 weeks gestation; Category D starting 30 weeks gestation. Starting at 30 weeks gestation, avoid use of Flector Patch, and other NSAIDS, in pregnant women as premature closure of the ductus arteriosus in the fetus may occur, Flector Patch can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman starting at 30 weeks gestation. If this drug is used during this time period in pregnancy, inform the patient of the potential hazard to a fetus. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Prior to 30 weeks gestation, Flector Patch should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
Pregnant Sprague Dawley rats were administered 1, 3, or 6 mg/kg diclofenac epolamine via oral gavage daily from gestation days 6-15. Maternal toxicity, embryotoxicity, and increased incidence of skeletal anomalies were noted with 6 mg/kg/day diclofenac epolamine, which corresponds to 3-times the maximum recommended daily exposure in humans based on a body surface area comparison. Pregnant New Zealand White rabbits were administered 1, 3, or 6 mg/kg diclofenac epolamine via oral gavage daily from gestation days 6-18. No maternal toxicity was noted; however, embryotoxicity was evident at 6 mg/kg/day group which corresponds to 6.5-times the maximum recommended daily exposure in humans based on a body surface area comparison.
Male rats were orally administered diclofenac epolamine (1, 3, 6 mg/kg) for 60 days prior to mating and throughout the mating period, and females were given the same doses 14 days prior to mating and through mating, gestation, and lactation. Embryotoxicity was observed at 6 mg/kg diclofenac epolamine (3-times the maximum recommended daily exposure in humans based on a body surface area comparison), and was manifested as an increase in early resorptions, postimplantation losses, and a decrease in live fetuses. The number of live born and total born were also reduced as was F1 postnatal survival, but the physical and behavioral development of surviving F1 pups in all groups was the same as the deionized water control, nor was reproductive performance adversely affected despite a slight treatment-related reduction in body weight.
Labor And Delivery
The effects of Flector Patch on labor and delivery in pregnant women are unknown. In rat studies, maternal exposure to NSAIDs, as with other drugs known to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis, increased the incidence of dystocia, delayed parturition, and decreased pup survival.
It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human-milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from Flector Patch, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.
Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.
Clinical studies of Flector Patch did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients.
Diclofenac, as with any NSAID, is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of toxic reactions to Flector Patch may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken when using Flector Patch in the elderly, and it may be useful to monitor renal function.This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 4/11/2016
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