H.P. Acthar Gel
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Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD
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H.P. Acthar Gel
H.P. Acthar Gel
- Patient Information:
Details with Side Effects
The adverse effects of H.P. Acthar Gel are related primarily to its steroidogenic effects. Not all of the adverse events described below have been seen after treatment with H.P. Acthar Gel, but might be expected to occur. [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].
H.P. Acthar Gel may increase the risks related to infections with any pathogen, including viral, bacterial fungal, protozoan or helminthic infections. Patients with latent tuberculosis or tuberculin reactivity should be observed closely, and if therapy is prolonged, chemoprophylaxis should be instituted.
Cushing's Syndrome and Adrenal Insufficiency Upon Withdrawal
Treatment with H.P. Acthar Gel can cause hypothalamic-pituitary-axis (HPA) suppression and Cushing's syndrome. These conditions should be monitored especially with chronic use.
Suppression of the HPA may occur following prolonged therapy with the potential for adrenal insufficiency after withdrawal of the medication. Patients should be monitored for signs of insufficiency such as weakness, hyperpigmentation, weight loss, hypotension and abdominal pain.
The symptoms of adrenal insufficiency in infants treated for infantile spasms can be difficult to identify. The symptoms are non-specific and may include anorexia, fatigue, lethargy, weakness, excessive weight loss, hypotension and abdominal pain. It is critical that parents and caregivers be made aware of the possibility of adrenal insufficiency when discontinuing H.P. Acthar Gel and should be instructed to observe for, and be able to recognize, these symptoms [see PATIENT INFORMATION]
The adrenal insufficiency may be minimized in adults and infants by tapering of the dose when discontinuing treatment.
Signs or symptoms of Cushing's syndrome may occur during therapy but generally resolve after therapy is stopped. Patients should be monitored for these signs and symptoms such as deposition of adipose tissue in characteristics sites (e.g., moon face, truncal obesity), cutaneous striae, easy bruisability, decreased bone mineralization, weight gain, muscle weakness, hyperglycemia, and hypertension.
Elevated Blood Pressure, Salt and Water Retention and Hypokalemia
H.P. Acthar Gel can cause elevation of blood pressure, salt and water retention, and increased excretion of potassium and calcium. Dietary salt restriction and potassium supplementation may be necessary. Caution should be used in the treatment of patients with hypertension, congestive heart failure, or renal insufficiency.
Administration of live or live attenuated vaccines is contraindicated in patients receiving immunosuppressive doses of H.P. Acthar Gel. Killed or inactivated vaccines may be administered; however, the response to such vaccines can not be predicted. Other immunization procedures should be undertaken with caution in patients who are receiving H.P. Acthar Gel, especially when high doses are administered, because of the possible hazards of neurological complications and lack of antibody response.
Masking Symptoms of Other Diseases
H.P. Acthar Gel often acts by masking symptoms of other diseases/disorders without altering the course of the other disease/disorder. Patients should be monitored carefully during and for a period following discontinuation of therapy for signs of infection, abnormal cardiac function, hypertension, hyperglycemia, change in body weight and fecal blood loss.
Gastrointestinal Perforation and Bleeding
H.P. Acthar Gel can cause GI bleeding and gastric ulcer. There is also an increased risk for perforation in patients with certain gastrointestinal disorders. Signs of gastrointestinal perforation, such as peritoneal irritation, may be masked by the therapy. Use caution where there is the possibility of impending perforation, abscess or other pyogenic infections, diverticulitis, fresh intestinal anastomoses, and active or latent peptic ulcer.
Behavioral and Mood Disturbances
Use of H.P. Acthar Gel may be associated with central nervous system effects ranging from euphoria, insomnia, irritability (especially in infants), mood swings, personality changes, and severe depression, to frank psychotic manifestations. Also, existing emotional instability or psychotic tendencies may be aggravated.
Prolonged use of H.P. Acthar Gel may produce posterior subcapsular cataracts, glaucoma with possible damage to the optic nerves and may enhance the establishment of secondary ocular infections due to fungi and viruses.
H.P. Acthar Gel is immunogenic. Limited available data suggest that a patient may develop antibodies to H.P. Acthar Gel after chronic administration and loss of endogenous ACTH and H.P. Acthar Gel activity. Prolonged administration of H.P. Acthar Gel may increase the risk of hypersensitivity reactions. Sensitivity to porcine protein should be considered before starting therapy and during the course of treatment should symptoms arise.
Use in Patients with Hypothyroidism or Liver Cirrhosis
Negative Effects on Growth and Physical Development
Long-term use of H.P. Acthar Gel may have negative effects on growth and physical development in children. Changes in appetite are seen with H.P. Acthar Gel therapy, with the effects becoming more frequent as the dose or treatment period increases. These effects are reversible once H.P. Acthar Gel therapy is stopped. Growth and physical development of pediatric patients on prolonged therapy should be carefully monitored.
Decrease in Bone Density
Decrease in bone formation and an increase in bone resorption both through an effect on calcium regulation (i.e. decreasing absorption and increasing excretion) and inhibition of osteoblast function may occur. These, together with a decrease in the protein matrix of the bone (secondary to an increase in protein catabolism) and reduced sex hormone production, may lead to inhibition of bone growth in children and adolescents and to the development of osteoporosis at any age. Special consideration should be given to patients at increased risk of osteoporosis (i.e., postmenopausal women) before initiating therapy, and bone density should be monitored in patients on long term therapy.
Use in Pregnancy
H.P. Acthar Gel has been shown to have an embryocidal effect. Apprise women of potential harm to the fetus. [see Use in Specific Populations]
Patient Counseling Information
Caretakers of patients with infantile spasms should be informed of the availability of a Medication Guide, and they should be instructed to read the Medication Guide prior to administering H.P. Acthar Gel. Patients should be instructed to take H.P. Acthar Gel only as prescribed. They should not stop treatment suddenly unless instructed by their physician to do so.
Patients, their caregivers and families should be advised as to the importance of the need for careful monitoring while on and during titration from H.P. Acthar Gel treatment and the importance of not missing and scheduled doctor's appointments.
Patients, their caregivers and families should be advised that if the patient develops an infection or fever they should contact their physician. They should be educated that a fever may not necessarily be present during infection. The patient should also try to limit contact with other people with infections to minimize the risk of infection while taking H.P. Acthar Gel. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS].
Patients, their caregivers and families should be advised that if the patient experiences an increase in blood pressure they should contact their physician. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS].
Patients, their caregivers and families should be advised that if the patient or the caregiver notices blood or a change in color of the patient's stool they should contact their physician. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Caregivers and families of infants and children treated with H.P. Acthar Gel should be informed that the patient may show signs of irritability and sleep disturbances. These effects are reversible once H.P. Acthar Gel therapy is stopped. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS].
Patients, their caregivers and families should be advised that changes in appetite, most often leading to weight gain, are seen with H.P. Acthar Gel therapy, becoming more frequent as the dose or treatment period increases. These effects are reversible once H.P. Acthar Gel therapy is stopped. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS].
Patients, their caregivers and families should be advised that the patient may be monitored for signs of adrenal insufficiency such as weakness, fatigue, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, hypotension, abdominal pain or hyperpigmentation (adults only) after treatment has stopped. Since the recovery of the adrenal gland varies from days to months, patients may need to be protected from the stress of trauma or surgery by the use of corticosteroids during the period of stress. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Patients should be advised not to be vaccinated with live or live attenuated vaccines during treatment with H.P. Acthar Gel. Additionally, other immunization procedures in patients or in family members who will be in contact with the patient should be undertaken with caution while the patient is taking H.P. Acthar Gel. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Patients, their caregivers and families should be advised that prolonged use of H.P. Acthar Gel in children may result in Cushing's syndrome and associated adverse reactions, may inhibit skeletal growth, and may cause osteoporosis and decreased bone density. If prolonged use is necessary, H.P. Acthar Gel should be given intermittently along with careful observation. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS].
Patients, their caregivers and families should be informed that H.P. Acthar Gel may mask symptoms of other diseases/disorders without altering the course of the other disease/disorder. The patient will need to be monitored carefully during and for a period following discontinuation of therapy for signs of infection, abnormal cardiac function, hypertension, hyperglycemia, change in body weight, and fecal blood loss. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
In the treatment of Infantile Spasms, other types of seizures may occur because some patients with infantile spasms progress to other forms of seizures (for example, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome). Additionally the spasms sometimes mask other seizures and once the spasms resolve after treatment with H.P. Acthar Gel, the other seizures may become visible. Parents and caregivers should inform their physician of any new onset of seizures so that appropriate management can then be instituted. [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Adequate and well-controlled studies have not been done in animals. Human use has not been associated with an increase in malignant disease. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and Use In Specific Populations].
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Class C: H.P. Acthar Gel has been shown to have an embryocidal effect. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. H.P. Acthar Gel should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
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 H.P. Acthar Gel, when treating a nursing mother, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, considering the risk and benefit to the mother.
H.P. Acthar Gel is indicated as monotherapy for the treatment of infantile spasms in infants and children less than 2 years of age. Both serious and other adverse reactions in this population are discussed in Warnings and Adverse Reactions in Infants and Children Under 2 Years of Age [see Sections PRECAUTIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS].
The efficacy of H.P. Acthar Gel for the treatment of infantile spasms in infants and children less than 2 years of age was evaluated in a randomized, single blinded (video EEG interpreter blinded) clinical trial and an additional active control supportive trial [see Clinical Studies]. A responding patient was defined as having both complete cessation of spasms and elimination of hypsarrhythmia.
Safety in the pediatric population for infantile spasms was evaluated by retrospective chart reviews and data from non-sponsor conducted clinical trials [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. While the types of adverse reactions seen in infants and children under 2 years of age treated for infantile spasms are similar to those seen in older patients, their frequency and severity may be different due to the very young age of the infant, the underlying disorder, the duration of therapy and the dosage regimen. Effects on growth are of particular concern [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Serious adverse reactions observed in adults may also occur in children [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Last reviewed on RxList: 10/30/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Additional H.P. Acthar Gel Information
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