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Follistim AQ Cartridge

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Follistim AQ Cartridge



Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


Follistim AQ Cartridge should be used only by physicians who are experienced in infertility treatment. Follistim AQ Cartridge contains a potent gonadotropic substance capable of causing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) with or without pulmonary or vascular complications and multiple births. Gonadotropin therapy requires the availability of appropriate monitoring facilities.

Careful attention should be given to the diagnosis of infertility and in the selection of candidates for Follistim AQ Cartridge therapy [see INDICATIONS AND USAGE and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

Switching to Follistim AQ Cartridge from other brands (manufacturer), types (recombinant, urinary), and/or methods of administration (Follistim Pen, conventional syringe) may necessitate an adjustment of the dose [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

Abnormal Ovarian Enlargement

In order to minimize the hazards associated with abnormal ovarian enlargement that may occur with Follistim AQ therapy, treatment should be individualized and the lowest effective dose should be used [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]. Use of ultrasound monitoring of ovarian response and/or measurement of serum estradiol levels is important to minimize the risk of overstimulation.

If the ovaries are abnormally enlarged on the last day of Follistim AQ therapy, hCG should not be administered in order to reduce the chances of developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). Intercourse should be prohibited in patients with significant ovarian enlargement after ovulation because of the danger of hemoperitoneum resulting from ruptured ovarian cysts.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

OHSS is a medical entity distinct from uncomplicated ovarian enlargement and may progress rapidly to become a serious medical condition. OHSS is characterized by a dramatic increase in vascular permeability, which can result in a rapid accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, thorax, and potentially, the pericardium. The early warning signs of OHSS developing are severe pelvic pain, nausea, vomiting, and weight gain. Abdominal pain, abdominal distension, gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, severe ovarian enlargement, weight gain, dyspnea, and oliguria have been reported with OHSS. Clinical evaluation may reveal hypovolemia, hemoconcentration, electrolyte imbalances, ascites, hemoperitoneum, pleural effusions, hydrothorax, acute pulmonary distress, and thromboembolic reactions. Transient liver function test abnormalities suggestive of hepatic dysfunction with or without morphologic changes on liver biopsy have also been reported in association with OHSS.

OHSS occurs after gonadotropin treatment has been discontinued, and it can develop rapidly, reaching its maximum about seven to ten days following treatment. Usually, OHSS resolves spontaneously with the onset of menses. If there is a risk for OHSS evident prior to hCG administration, the hCG must be withheld. Cases of OHSS are more common, more severe, and more protracted if pregnancy occurs; therefore, women should be assessed for the development of OHSS for at least two weeks after hCG administration.

If serious OHSS occurs, gonadotropins, including hCG, should be stopped and consideration should be given as to whether the patient needs to be hospitalized. Treatment is primarily symptomatic and overall should consist of bed rest, fluid and electrolyte management, and analgesics (if needed). Because the use of diuretics can accentuate the diminished intravascular volume, diuretics should be avoided except in the late phase of resolution as described below. The management of OHSS may be divided into three phases as follows:

  • Acute Phase
    Management should be directed at preventing hemoconcentration due to loss of intravascular volume to the third space and minimizing the risk of thromboembolic phenomena and kidney damage. Fluid intake and output, weight, hematocrit, serum and urinary electrolytes, urine specific gravity, BUN and creatinine, total proteins with albumin: globulin ratio, coagulation studies, electrocardiogram to monitor for hyperkalemia, and abdominal girth should be thoroughly assessed daily or more often based on the clinical need. Treatment, consisting of limited intravenous fluids, electrolytes, and human serum albumin is intended to normalize electrolytes while maintaining an acceptable but somewhat reduced intravascular volume. Full correction of the intravascular volume deficit may lead to an unacceptable increase in the amount of third space fluid accumulation.
  • Chronic Phase
    After the acute phase is successfully managed as above, excessive fluid accumulation in the third space should be limited by instituting severe potassium, sodium, and fluid restriction.
  • Resolution Phase
    As third space fluid returns to the intravascular compartment, a fall in hematocrit and increasing urinary output are observed in the absence of any increase in intake. Peripheral and/or pulmonary edema may result if the kidneys are unable to excrete third space fluid as rapidly as it is mobilized. Diuretics may be indicated during the resolution phase, if necessary, to combat pulmonary edema.

OHSS increases the risk of injury to the ovary. The ascitic, pleural, and pericardial fluid should not be removed unless there is the necessity to relieve symptoms uch as pulmonary distress or cardiac tamponade. Pelvic examination may cause rupture of an ovarian cyst, which may result in hemoperitoneum, and should therefore be avoided. If bleeding occurs and requires surgical intervention, the clinical objective should be to control the bleeding and retain as much ovarian tissue as possible.

During clinical trials with Follistim or Follistim AQ Cartridge therapy, OHSS occurred in 7.6% of 105 women (OI) and 6.4% of 751 women (IVF or ICSI) treated with Follistim and Follistim AQ Cartridge, respectively.

Pulmonary and Vascular Complications

Serious pulmonary conditions (e.g., atelectasis, acute respiratory distress syndrome) have been reported in women treated with gonadotropins. In addition, thromboembolic reactions both in association with, and separate from OHSS have been reported following gonadotropin therapy. Intravascular thrombosis, which may originate in venous or arterial vessels, can result in reduced blood flow to vital organs or the extremities. Women with generally recognized risk factors for thrombosis, such as a personal or family history, severe obesity, or thrombophilia, may have an increased risk of venous or arterial thromboembolic events, during or following treatment with gonadotropins. Sequelae of such reactions have included venous thrombophlebitis, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary infarction, cerebral vascular occlusion (stroke), and arterial occlusion resulting in loss of limb and rarely in myocardial infarction. In rare cases, pulmonary complications and/or thromboembolic reactions have resulted in death. In women with recognized risk factors, the benefits of ovulation induction, in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) treatment need to be weighed against the risks. It should be noted, that pregnancy itself also carries an increased risk of thrombosis.

Ovarian Torsion

Ovarian torsion has been reported after treatment with Follistim AQ Cartridge and after intervention with other gonadotropins. This may be related to OHSS, pregnancy, previous abdominal surgery, past history of ovarian torsion, previous or current ovarian cyst and polycystic ovaries. Damage to the ovary due to reduced blood supply can be limited by early diagnosis and immediate detorsion.

Multi-fetal Gestation and Birth

Multi-fetal gestation and births have been reported with all gonadotropin treatments including Follistim AQ Cartridge treatment. The woman and her partner should be advised of the potential risk of multi-fetal gestation and births before starting treatment.

Congenital Anomalies

The incidence of congenital malformations after IVF or ICSI may be slightly higher than after spontaneous conception. This slightly higher incidence is thought to be related to differences in parental characteristics (e.g., maternal age, sperm characteristics) and to the higher incidence of multi-fetal gestations after IVF or ICSI. There are no indications that the use of gonadotropins during IVF or ICSI is associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Since infertile women undergoing IVF or ICSI often have tubal abnormalities, the incidence of ectopic pregnancies might be increased. Early confirmation of an intrauterine pregnancy should be determined by β-hCG testing and transvaginal ultrasound.

Spontaneous Abortion

The risk of spontaneous abortions (miscarriage) is increased with gonadotropin products. However, causality has not been established. The increased risk may be a factor of the underlying infertility.

Ovarian Neoplasms

There have been infrequent reports of ovarian neoplasms, both benign and malignant, in women who have undergone multiple drug regimens for controlled ovarian stimulation; however, a causal relationship has not been established.

Laboratory Tests

For Women

In most instances, treatment with Follistim AQ Cartridge will result only in follicular growth and maturation. In order to complete the final phase of follicular maturation and to induce ovulation, hCG must be given following the administration of Follistim AQ Cartridge or when clinical assessment indicates that sufficient follicular maturation has occurred. The degree of follicular maturation and the timing of hCG administration can both be determined with the use of sonographic visualization of the ovaries and endometrial lining in conjunction with measurement of serum estradiol levels. The combination of transvaginal ultrasonography and measurement of serum estradiol levels is also useful for minimizing the risk of OHSS and multi-fetal gestations.

The clinical confirmation of ovulation is obtained by the following direct or indirect indices of progesterone production as well as sonographic evidence of ovulation.

Direct or indirect indices of progesterone production are:

  • Urinary or serum luteinizing hormone (LH) rise
  • A rise in basal body temperature
  • Increase in serum progesterone
  • Menstruation following the shift in basal body temperature

The following provide sonographic evidence of ovulation:

  • Collapsed follicle
  • Fluid in the cul-de-sac
  • Features consistent with corpus luteum formation

Sonographic evaluation of the early pregnancy is also important to rule out ectopic pregnancy.

For Men

Clinical monitoring for spermatogenesis utilizes the following indirect or direct measures:

Follistim Pen

The Follistim Pen is intended only for use with Follistim AQ Cartridge. The Follistim Pen is not recommended for the blind or visually impaired without the assistance of an individual with good vision who is trained in the proper use of the injection device.

Patient Counseling Information

“See FDA-Approved Patient Labeling (PATIENT INFORMATION)

Dosing and Use of Follistim AQ Cartridge with Pen

Instruct women and men on the correct usage and dosing of Follistim AQ Cartridge in conjunction with the Follistim Pen. Make sure that individuals who have used other gonadotropin products delivered by a syringe are aware of differences arising from use of the pen. Women and men should read and follow all instructions in the Follistim Pen “Instructions for Use” Manual prior to administration of Follistim AQ Cartridge.

Advise women and men of the number of doses which can be extracted from the full unused Follistim AQ Cartridge that you have prescribed.

Therapy Duration and Necessary Monitoring in Women and Men Undergoing Treatment

Prior to beginning therapy with Follistim AQ Cartridge, inform women and men about the time commitment and monitoring procedures necessary to undergo treatment [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Instructions on a Missed Dose

Inform women and men that if they miss or forget to take a dose of Follistim AQ Cartridge, the next dose should not be doubled and they should call the healthcare provider for further dosing instructions.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

Inform women regarding the risks with use of Follistim AQ Cartridge of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS] and associated symptoms including lung and blood vessel problems [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS] and ovarian torsion [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Multi-fetal Gestation and Birth

Inform women regarding the risk of multi-fetal gestations with the use of Follistim AQ Cartridge [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Long-term toxicity studies in animals have not been performed with Follistim to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of the drug. Follistim was not mutagenic in the Ames test using S. typhimurium and E. coli tester strains and did not produce chromosomal aberrations in an in vitro assay using human lymphocytes.

Use In Specific Populations


Pregnancy Category X: Follistim AQ Cartridge should not be used during pregnancy [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].

Nursing Mothers

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 the nursing infant from Follistim AQ Cartridge, 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.

Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of Follistim did not include subjects aged 65 and over.

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 9/6/2011


Follistim AQ - User Reviews

Follistim AQ User Reviews

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