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Flolan

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Flolan

CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY

General

Epoprostenol has 2 major pharmacological actions: (1) direct vasodilation of pulmonary and systemic arterial vascular beds, and (2) inhibition of platelet aggregation. In animals, the vasodilatory effects reduce right- and left-ventricular afterload and increase cardiac output and stroke volume. The effect of epoprostenol on heart rate in animals varies with dose. At low doses, there is vagally mediated bradycardia, but at higher doses, epoprostenol causes reflex tachycardia in response to direct vasodilation and hypotension. No major effects on cardiac conduction have been observed. Additional pharmacologic effects of epoprostenol in animals include bronchodilation, inhibition of gastric acid secretion, and decreased gastric emptying.

Pharmacokinetics

Epoprostenol is rapidly hydrolyzed at neutral pH in blood and is also subject to enzymatic degradation. Animal studies using tritium-labeled epoprostenol have indicated a high clearance (93 mL/kg/min), small volume of distribution (357 mL/kg), and a short half-life (2.7 minutes). During infusions in animals, steady-state plasma concentrations of tritium-labeled epoprostenol were reached within 15 minutes and were proportional to infusion rates.

No available chemical assay is sufficiently sensitive and specific to assess the in vivo human pharmacokinetics of epoprostenol. The in vitro half-life of epoprostenol in human blood at 37°C and pH 7.4 is approximately 6 minutes; therefore, the in vivo half-life of epoprostenol in humans is expected to be no greater than 6 minutes. The in vitro pharmacologic half-life of epoprostenol in human plasma, based on inhibition of platelet aggregation, was similar for males (n = 954) and females (n = 1,024).

Tritium-labeled epoprostenol has been administered to humans in order to identify the metabolic products of epoprostenol. Epoprostenol is metabolized to 2 primary metabolites: 6-keto-PGF1α (formed by spontaneous degradation) and 6,15-diketo-13,14-dihydro-PGF1α (enzymatically formed), both of which have pharmacological activity orders of magnitude less than epoprostenol in animal test systems. The recovery of radioactivity in urine and feces over a 1-week period was 82% and 4% of the administered dose, respectively. Fourteen additional minor metabolites have been isolated from urine, indicating that epoprostenol is extensively metabolized in humans.

Clinical Trials In Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (Pah)

Acute Hemodynamic Effects

Acute intravenous infusions of FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) for up to 15 minutes in patients with idiopathic or heritable PAH or PAH associated with scleroderma spectrum of diseases (PAH/SSD) produce dose-related increases in cardiac index (CI) and stroke volume (SV) and dose-related decreases in pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR), total pulmonary resistance (TPR), and mean systemic arterial pressure (SAPm). The effects of FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) on mean pulmonary artery pressure (PAPm) were variable and minor.

Chronic Infusion in Idiopathic or Heritable PAH

Hemodynamic Effects: Chronic continuous infusions of FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) in patients with idiopathic or heritable PAH were studied in 2 prospective, open, randomized trials of 8 and 12 weeks' duration comparing FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) plus conventional therapy to conventional therapy alone. Dosage of FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) was determined as described in DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and averaged 9.2 ng/kg/min at study's end. Conventional therapy varied among patients and included some or all of the following: anticoagulants in essentially all patients; oral vasodilators, diuretics, and digoxin in one half to two thirds of patients; and supplemental oxygen in about half the patients. Except for 2 New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional Class II patients, all patients were either functional Class III or Class IV. As results were similar in the 2 studies, the pooled results are described.

Chronic hemodynamic effects were generally similar to acute effects. Increases in CI, SV, and arterial oxygen saturation and decreases in PAPm, mean right atrial pressure (RAPm), TPR, and systemic vascular resistance (SVR) were observed in patients who received FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) chronically compared to those who did not. Table 1 illustrates the treatment-related hemodynamic changes in these patients after 8 or 12 weeks of treatment.

Table 1: Hemodynamics During Chronic Administration of FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) in Patients With Idiopathic or Heritable PAH

Hemodynamic Parameter Baseline Mean Change from Baselineat End of Treatment Period*
FLOLAN
(N = 52)
Standard Therapy
(N = 54)
FLOLAN
(N = 48)
Standard Therapy
(N = 41)
CI (L/min/m²) 2.0 2.0 0.3† -0.1
PAPm (mm Hg) 60 60 -5† 1
PVR (Wood U) 16 17 -4† 1
SAPm (mm Hg) 89 91 -4 -3
SV (mL/beat) 44 43 6† -1
PR (Wood U) 20 21 -5† 1
* At 8 weeks: FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) N = 10, conventional therapy N = 11 (N is the number of patients with hemodynamic data).
At 12 weeks: FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) N = 38, conventional therapy N = 30 (N is the number of patients with hemodynamic data).
† Denotes statistically significant difference between FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) and conventional therapy groups.
CI = cardiac index, PAPm = mean pulmonary arterial pressure, PVR = pulmonary vascular resistance, SAPm = mean systemic arterial pressure, SV = stroke volume, TPR = total pulmonary resistance.

These hemodynamic improvements appeared to persist when FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) was administered for at least 36 months in an open, nonrandomized study.

Clinical Effects: Statistically significant improvement was observed in exercise capacity, as measured by the 6-minute walk test in patients receiving continuous intravenous FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) plus conventional therapy (N = 52) for 8 or 12 weeks compared to those receiving conventional therapy alone (N = 54). Improvements were apparent as early as the first week of therapy. Increases in exercise capacity were accompanied by statistically significant improvement in dyspnea and fatigue, as measured by the Chronic Heart Failure Questionnaire and the Dyspnea Fatigue Index.

Survival was improved in NYHA functional Class III and Class IV patients with idiopathic or heritable PAH treated with FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) for 12 weeks in a multicenter, open, randomized, parallel study. At the end of the treatment period, 8 of 40 (20%) patients receiving conventional therapy alone died, whereas none of the 41 patients receiving FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) died (p = 0.003).

Chronic Infusion in PAH/Scleroderma Spectrum of Diseases (SSD)

Hemodynamic Effects: Chronic continuous infusions of FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) in patients with PAH/SSD were studied in a prospective, open, randomized trial of 12 weeks' duration comparing FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) plus conventional therapy (N = 56) to conventional therapy alone (N = 55). Except for 5 NYHA functional Class II patients, all patients were either functional Class III or Class IV. Dosage of FLOLAN was determined as described in DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and averaged 11.2 ng/kg/min at study's end. Conventional therapy varied among patients and included some or all of the following: anticoagulants in essentially all patients, supplemental oxygen and diuretics in two thirds of the patients, oral vasodilators in 40% of the patients, and digoxin in a third of the patients. A statistically significant increase in CI, and statistically significant decreases in PAPm, RAPm, PVR, and SAPm after 12 weeks of treatment were observed in patients who received FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) chronically compared to those who did not. Table 2 illustrates the treatment-related hemodynamic changes in these patients after 12 weeks of treatment.

Table 2: Hemodynamics During Chronic Administration of FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) in Patients With PAH/SSD

Hemodynamic Parameter Baseline Mean Change from Baselineat 12 Weeks
FLOLAN
(N = 56)
Conventional Therapy
(N = 55)
FLOLAN
(N = 50)
Conventional Therapy
(N = 48)
CI (L/min/m²) 1.9 2.2 0.5* -0.1
PAPm (mm Hg) 51 49 -5* 1
RAPm (mm Hg) 13 11 -1* 1
PVR (Wood U) 14 11 -5* 1
SAPm (mm Hg) 93 89 -8* -1
* Denotes statistically significant difference between FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) and conventional therapy groups (N is the number of patients with hemodynamic data).
CI = cardiac index, PAPm = mean pulmonary arterial pressure, RAPm = mean right arterial pressure, PVR = pulmonary vascular resistance, SAPm = mean systemic arterial pressure.

Clinical Effects: Statistically significant improvement was observed in exercise capacity, as measured by the 6-minute walk, in patients receiving continuous intravenous FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) plus conventional therapy for 12 weeks compared to those receiving conventional therapy alone. Improvements were apparent in some patients at the end of the first week of therapy. Increases in exercise capacity were accompanied by statistically significant improvements in dyspnea and fatigue, as measured by the Borg Dyspnea Index and Dyspnea Fatigue Index. At week 12, NYHA functional class improved in 21 of 51 (41%) patients treated with FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) compared to none of the 48 patients treated with conventional therapy alone. However, more patients in both treatment groups (28/51 [55%] with FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) and 35/48 [73%] with conventional therapy alone) showed no change in functional class, and 2/51 (4%) with FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) and 13/48 (27%) with conventional therapy alone worsened. Of the patients randomized, NYHA functional class data at 12 weeks were not available for 5 patients treated with FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) and 7 patients treated with conventional therapy alone.

No statistical difference in survival over 12 weeks was observed in PAH/SSD patients treated with FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) as compared to those receiving conventional therapy alone. At the end of the treatment period, 4 of 56 (7%) patients receiving FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) died, whereas 5 of 55 (9%) patients receiving conventional therapy alone died.

No controlled clinical trials with FLOLAN (epoprostenol sodium) have been performed in patients with pulmonary hypertension associated with other diseases.

Last reviewed on RxList: 5/24/2011
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

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