"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.
Risk Of Life-Threatening Overdose During Pump Refills
Use extreme caution when filling the Medtronic SynchroMed® II Programmable Pump which is equipped with an injection port that allows direct access to the intrathecal catheter. Direct injection into the catheter through the catheter access port may cause a life-threatening overdose.
Reservoir refilling must be performed by fully trained and qualified personnel following the directions provided by the pump manufacturer. Carefully calculate refill intervals to prevent depletion of the reservoir, as this would result in the return of severe spasticity and possibly symptoms of withdrawal.
Strict aseptic technique in filling is required to avoid bacterial contamination and serious infection. A period of observation appropriate to the clinical situation should follow each refill or manipulation of the drug reservoir.
Potential For Contamination Due To Non-sterile External Surface Of Prefilled Syringe
Although the drug solution and pathway in the GABLOFEN prefilled syringes are sterile, the external surface of the prefilled syringes (all strengths, including the 50 mcg/mL strength) are non-sterile. This has the potential to lead to contamination and consequent adverse reactions.
The use of GABLOFEN prefilled syringe in an aseptic setting (e.g., operating room) to fill sterile intrathecal pumps prior to implantation in patients is not recommended, unless the external surface of the prefilled syringe is treated to ensure sterility. GABLOFEN supplied in vials may be used with conventional aseptic technique to fill intrathecal pumps prior to implantation. Procedures should also be put in place while refilling implantable intrathecal pumps in an outpatient setting to avoid contamination of sterile surfaces through contact with the non-sterile exterior of the GABLOFEN prefilled syringe.
Prescriber, Caregiver And Patient Training And Screening Procedure/Post-Implantation Environment
GABLOFEN is for use in single bolus intrathecal injections (via a catheter placed in the lumbar intrathecal space or injection by lumbar puncture) and in the implantable Medtronic SynchroMed® II Programmable Pump or other pumps labeled for intrathecal administration of GABLOFEN. Because of the possibility of potentially life-threatening CNS depression, cardiovascular collapse, and/or respiratory failure, physicians must be adequately trained and educated in chronic intrathecal infusion therapy.
The pump system should not be implanted until the patient's response to bolus GABLOFEN injection is adequately evaluated. Evaluation (consisting of a screening procedure) requires that GABLOFEN be administered into the intrathecal space via a catheter or lumbar puncture [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]. Because of the risks associated with the screening procedure and the adjustment of dosage following pump implantation, these phases must be conducted in a medically supervised and adequately equipped environment following the instructions outlined in the Dosage and Administration section [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Resuscitative equipment should be available.
Following surgical implantation of the pump, particularly during the initial phases of pump use, the patient should be monitored closely until it is certain that the patient's response to the infusion is acceptable and reasonably stable.
On each occasion that the dosing rate of the pump and/or the concentration of GABLOFEN in the reservoir is adjusted, close medical monitoring is required until it is certain that the patient's response to the infusion is acceptable and reasonably stable.
It is mandatory that the patient, all patient caregivers, and the physicians responsible for the patient receive adequate information regarding the risks of this mode of treatment. All medical personnel and caregivers should be instructed in 1) the signs and symptoms of overdose, 2) procedures to be followed in the event of overdose and 3) proper home care of the pump and insertion site.
Signs of overdose may appear suddenly or insidiously. Acute massive overdose may present as coma. Less sudden and/or less severe forms of overdose may present with signs of drowsiness, lightheadedness, dizziness, somnolence, respiratory depression, seizures, rostral progression of hypotonia and loss of consciousness progressing to coma. Should overdose appear likely, the patient should be taken immediately to a hospital for assessment and emptying of the pump reservoir. In cases reported to date, overdose has generally been related to pump malfunction or dosing error [see OVERDOSAGE].
Extreme caution must be used when filling the implantable pump.
The Medtronic SynchroMed® II Programmable Pump should only be refilled through the reservoir refill septum. The Medtronic SynchroMed® II Programmable Pump is also equipped with a catheter access port that allows direct access to the intrathecal catheter. Direct injection into this catheter access port may cause a life-threatening overdose.
Abrupt withdrawal of intrathecal baclofen, regardless of the cause, has resulted in sequelae that included high fever, altered mental status, exaggerated rebound spasticity and muscle rigidity that in rare cases progressed to rhabdomyolysis, multiple organ-system failure, and death. In the first 9 years of post-marketing experience, 27 cases of withdrawal temporally related to the cessation of baclofen therapy were reported; six patients died. In most cases, symptoms of withdrawal appeared within hours to a few days following interruption of baclofen therapy. Common reasons for abrupt interruption of intrathecal baclofen therapy included malfunction of the catheter (especially disconnection), low volume in the pump reservoir, and end of pump battery life; human error may have played a causal or contributing role in some cases. Cases of intrathecal mass at the tip of the implanted catheter leading to withdrawal symptoms have also been reported, most of them involving pharmacy compounded analgesic admixtures [see Drowsiness].
Prevention of abrupt discontinuation of intrathecal baclofen requires careful attention to programming and monitoring of the infusion system, refill scheduling and procedures, and pump alarms. Patients and caregivers should be advised of the importance of keeping scheduled refill visits and should be educated on the early symptoms of baclofen withdrawal.
All patients receiving intrathecal baclofen therapy are potentially at risk for withdrawal. Early symptoms of baclofen withdrawal may include return of baseline spasticity, pruritus, hypotension, and paresthesias. Some clinical characteristics of the advanced intrathecal baclofen withdrawal syndrome may resemble autonomic dysreflexia, infection (sepsis), malignant hyperthermia, neuroleptic-malignant syndrome, or other conditions associated with a hypermetabolic state or widespread rhabdomyolysis.
Rapid, accurate diagnosis and treatment in an emergency-room or intensive-care setting are important in order to prevent the potentially life-threatening central nervous system and systemic effects of intrathecal baclofen withdrawal. The suggested treatment for intrathecal baclofen withdrawal is the restoration of intrathecal baclofen at or near the same dosage as before therapy was interrupted. However, if restoration of intrathecal delivery is delayed, treatment with GABA-ergic agonist drugs such as oral or enteral baclofen, or oral, enteral, or intravenous benzodiazepines may prevent potentially fatal sequelae. Oral or enteral baclofen alone should not be relied upon to halt the progression of intrathecal baclofen withdrawal.
Seizures have been reported during overdose and with withdrawal from intrathecal baclofen as well as in patients maintained on therapeutic doses of intrathecal baclofen.
Possible Exacerbation Of Psychotic Disorders, Schizophrenia, Or Confusional States
Patients suffering from psychotic disorders, schizophrenia, or confusional states should be treated cautiously with GABLOFEN and kept under careful surveillance, because exacerbations of these conditions have been observed with oral administration.
Spasticity of Spinal Cord Origin
There were 16 deaths reported among the 576 U.S. patients treated with intrathecal baclofen in pre-and post-marketing studies evaluated as of December 1992. Because these patients were treated under uncontrolled clinical settings, it is impossible to determine definitively what role, if any, intrathecal baclofen played in their deaths. As a group, the patients who died were relatively young (mean age was 47 with a range from 25 to 63), but the majority suffered from severe spasticity of many years duration, were nonambulatory, had various medical complications such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and decubiti, and/or had received multiple concomitant medications. A case-by-case review of the clinical course of the 16 patients who died failed to reveal any unique signs, symptoms, or laboratory results that would suggest that treatment with intrathecal baclofen caused their deaths. Two patients, however, did suffer sudden and unexpected death within 2 weeks of pump implantation and one patient died unexpectedly after screening.
One patient, a 44 year-old male with Multiple Sclerosis, died in hospital on the second day following pump implantation. An autopsy demonstrated severe fibrosis of the coronary conduction system. A second patient, a 52 year-old woman with MS and a history of an inferior wall myocardial infarction, was found dead in bed 12 days after pump implantation, 2 hours after having had documented normal vital signs. An autopsy revealed pulmonary congestion and bilateral pleural effusions. It is impossible to determine whether intrathecal baclofen contributed to these deaths. The third patient underwent three baclofen screening trials. His medical history included spinal cord injury, aspiration pneumonia, septic shock, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, severe metabolic acidosis, hepatic toxicity, and status epilepticus. Twelve days after screening (he was not implanted), he again experienced status epilepticus with subsequent significant neurological deterioration. Based upon prior instruction, extraordinary resuscitative measures were not pursued and the patient died.
Spasticity of Cerebral Origin
There were three deaths occurring among the 211 patients treated with intrathecal baclofen in pre-marketing studies as of March 1996. These deaths were not attributed to the therapy.
Use With Caution In Patients With A History Of Autonomic Dysreflexia
GABLOFEN should be used with caution in patients with a history of autonomic dysreflexia. The presence of nociceptive stimuli or abrupt withdrawal of GABLOFEN may cause an autonomic dysreflexic episode.
Patients should be infection-free prior to the screening trial with GABLOFEN because the presence of a systemic infection may interfere with an assessment of the patient's response to bolus GABLOFEN. Patients should be infection-free prior to implantation of the pump because the presence of infection may increase the risk of surgical complications. Moreover, a systemic infection may complicate dosing.
Drowsiness has been reported in patients on intrathecal baclofen. Patients should be cautioned regarding the operation of automobiles or other dangerous machinery, and activities made hazardous by decreased alertness. Patients should also be cautioned that the central nervous system depressant effects of intrathecal baclofen may be additive to those of alcohol and other CNS depressants.
Intrathecal Mass Formation
Cases of intrathecal mass at the tip of the implanted catheter have been reported, most of them involving pharmacy compounded analgesic admixtures. The most frequent symptoms associated with intrathecal mass are: 1) decreased therapeutic response (worsening spasticity, return of spasticity when previously well controlled, withdrawal symptoms, poor response to escalating doses, or frequent or large dosage increases), 2) pain, 3) neurological deficit/dysfunction. Clinicians should monitor patients on intraspinal therapy carefully for any new neurological signs or symptoms. In patients with new neurological signs or symptoms suggestive of an intrathecal mass, consider a neurosurgical consultation, since many of the symptoms of inflammatory mass are not unlike the symptoms experienced by patients with severe spasticity from their disease. In some cases, performance of an imaging procedure may be appropriate to confirm or rule-out the diagnosis of an intrathecal mass.
A dose-related increase in incidence of ovarian cysts was observed in female rats treated chronically with oral baclofen. Ovarian cysts have been found by palpation in about 4% of the multiple sclerosis patients who were treated with oral baclofen for up to one year. In most cases these cysts disappeared spontaneously while patients continued to receive the drug. Ovarian cysts are estimated to occur spontaneously in approximately 1% to 5% of the normal female population.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
No increase in tumors was seen in rats receiving baclofen orally for two years at approximately 30 to 60 times on a mg/kg basis, or 10 to 20 times on a mg/m² basis, the maximum oral dose recommended for human use. Mutagenicity assays with baclofen have not been performed.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category C
There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. GABLOFEN should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
Baclofen given orally has been shown to increase the incidence of omphaloceles (ventral hernias) in fetuses of rats given approximately 13 times on a mg/kg basis, or 3 times on a mg/m² basis, the maximum oral dose recommended for human use; this dose also caused reductions in food intake and weight gain in the dams. This abnormality was not seen in mice or rabbits.
Labor And Delivery
The effect of baclofen on labor and delivery is unknown.
At therapeutic oral doses, baclofen is excreted in human milk. It is not known whether detectable levels of drug are present in milk of nursing mothers receiving GABLOFEN. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from GABLOFEN, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.
Children should be of sufficient body mass to accommodate the implantable pump for chronic infusion. Please consult pump manufacturer's manual for specific recommendations.
Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients below the age of 4 have not been established.
Last reviewed on RxList: 2/23/2015
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Additional Gablofen Information
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