May 1, 2017
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H.P. Acthar Gel

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H.P. Acthar Gel



Included as part of the "PRECAUTIONS" Section


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 recovery of the adrenal gland may take from days to months so patients should be protected from the stress (e.g. trauma or surgery) by the use of corticosteroids during the period of stress.

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.

Comorbid Diseases

Patients with a comorbid disease may have that disease worsened. Caution should be used when prescribing H.P. Acthar Gel in patients with diabetes and myasthenia gravis.

Ophthalmic Effects

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.

Immunogenicity Potential

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

There is an enhanced effect in patients with hypothyroidism and in those with cirrhosis of the liver.

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]

Nonclinical Toxicology

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.

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 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.

Pediatric Use

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 WARNINGS AND 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].

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

Last reviewed on RxList: 8/1/2016


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