"June 7, 2012 -- A new study shows that the drug Actemra may be a more effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis than the drug Humira when the medications are used by themselves.
Both medications are in a class called biologics, whi"...
Patients treated with HUMIRA are at increased risk for developing serious infections involving various organ systems and sites that may lead to hospitalization or death [see BOXED WARNING]. Opportunistic infections due to bacterial, mycobacterial, invasive fungal, viral, parasitic, or other opportunistic pathogens including aspergillosis, blastomycosis, candidiasis, coccidioidomycosis, histoplasmosis, legionellosis, listeriosis, pneumocystosis and tuberculosis have been reported with TNF blockers. Patients have frequently presented with disseminated rather than localized disease.
The concomitant use of a TNF blocker and abatacept or anakinra was associated with a higher risk of serious infections in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA); therefore, the concomitant use of HUMIRA and these biologic products is not recommended in the treatment of patients with RA [see Use with Anakinra and DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Treatment with HUMIRA should not be initiated in patients with an active infection, including localized infections. Patients greater than 65 years of age, patients with co-morbid conditions and/or patients taking concomitant immunosuppressants (such as corticosteroids or methotrexate), may be at greater risk of infection. Consider the risks and benefits of treatment prior to initiating therapy in patients:
- with chronic or recurrent infection;
- who have been exposed to tuberculosis;
- with a history of an opportunistic infection;
- who have resided or traveled in areas of endemic tuberculosis or endemic mycoses, such as histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, or blastomycosis; or
- with underlying conditions that may predispose them to infection.
Cases of reactivation of tuberculosis and new onset tuberculosis infections have been reported in patients receiving HUMIRA, including patients who have previously received treatment for latent or active tuberculosis. Reports included cases of pulmonary and extrapulmonary (i.e., disseminated) tuberculosis. Evaluate patients for tuberculosis risk factors and test for latent infection prior to initiating HUMIRA and periodically during therapy.
Treatment of latent tuberculosis infection prior to therapy with TNF blocking agents has been shown to reduce the risk of tuberculosis reactivation during therapy. Prior to initiating HUMIRA, assess if treatment for latent tuberculosis is needed; and consider an induration of ≥ 5 mm a positive tuberculin skin test result, even for patients previously vaccinated with Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG).
Consider anti-tuberculosis therapy prior to initiation of HUMIRA in patients with a past history of latent or active tuberculosis in whom an adequate course of treatment cannot be confirmed, and for patients with a negative test for latent tuberculosis but having risk factors for tuberculosis infection. Despite prophylactic treatment for tuberculosis, cases of reactivated tuberculosis have occurred in patients treated with HUMIRA. Consultation with a physician with expertise in the treatment of tuberculosis is recommended to aid in the decision whether initiating antituberculosis therapy is appropriate for an individual patient.
Strongly consider tuberculosis in the differential diagnosis in patients who develop a new infection during HUMIRA treatment, especially in patients who have previously or recently traveled to countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis, or who have had close contact with a person with active tuberculosis.
Closely monitor patients for the development of signs and symptoms of infection during and after treatment with HUMIRA, including the development of tuberculosis in patients who tested negative for latent tuberculosis infection prior to initiating therapy. Tests for latent tuberculosis infection may also be falsely negative while on therapy with HUMIRA.
Discontinue HUMIRA if a patient develops a serious infection or sepsis. For a patient who develops a new infection during treatment with HUMIRA, closely monitor them, perform a prompt and complete diagnostic workup appropriate for an immunocompromised patient, and initiate appropriate antimicrobial therapy.
Invasive Fungal Infections
If patients develop a serious systemic illness and they reside or travel in regions where mycoses are endemic, consider invasive fungal infection in the differential diagnosis. Antigen and antibody testing for histoplasmosis may be negative in some patients with active infection. Consider appropriate empiric antifungal therapy, taking into account both the risk for severe fungal infection and the risks of antifungal therapy, while a diagnostic workup is being performed. To aid in the management of such patients, consider consultation with a physician with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of invasive fungal infections.
Consider the risks and benefits of TNF-blocker treatment including HUMIRA prior to initiating therapy in patients with a known malignancy other than a successfully treated non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) or when considering continuing a TNF blocker in patients who develop a malignancy.
Malignancies in Adults
In the controlled portions of clinical trials of some TNF-blockers, including HUMIRA, more cases of malignancies have been observed among TNF-blocker-treated adult patients compared to control-treated adult patients. During the controlled portions of 34 global HUMIRA clinical trials in adult patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), Crohn's disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC) and plaque psoriasis (Ps), malignancies, other than non-melanoma (basal cell and squamous cell) skin cancer, were observed at a rate (95% confidence interval) of 0.6 (0.38, 0.91) per 100 patient-years among 7304 HUMIRA-treated patients versus a rate of 0.6 (0.30, 1.03) per 100 patient-years among 4232 control-treated patients (median duration of treatment of 4 months for HUMIRA-treated patients and 4 months for control-treated patients). In 47 global controlled and uncontrolled clinical trials of HUMIRA in adult patients with RA, PsA, AS, CD, UC, and Ps, the most frequently observed malignancies, other than lymphoma and NMSC, were breast, colon, prostate, lung, and melanoma. The malignancies in HUMIRA-treated patients in the controlled and uncontrolled portions of the studies were similar in type and number to what would be expected in the general U.S. population according to the SEER database (adjusted for age, gender, and race).1
In controlled trials of other TNF blockers in adult patients at higher risk for malignancies (i.e., patients with COPD with a significant smoking history and cyclophosphamide-treated patients with Wegener's granulomatosis), a greater portion of malignancies occurred in the TNF blocker group compared to the control group.
Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
During the controlled portions of 34 global HUMIRA clinical trials in adult patients with RA, PsA, AS, CD, UC, and Ps, the rate (95% confidence interval) of NMSC was 0.7 (0.49, 1.08) per 100 patient-years among HUMIRA-treated patients and 0.2 (0.08, 0.59) per 100 patient-years among control-treated patients. Examine all patients, and in particular patients with a medical history of prior prolonged immunosuppressant therapy or psoriasis patients with a history of PUVA treatment for the presence of NMSC prior to and during treatment with HUMIRA.
Lymphoma and Leukemia
In the controlled portions of clinical trials of all the TNF-blockers in adults, more cases of lymphoma have been observed among TNF-blocker-treated patients compared to control-treated patients. In the controlled portions of 34 global HUMIRA clinical trials in adult patients with RA, PsA, AS, CD, UC and Ps, 3 lymphomas occurred among 7304 HUMIRA-treated patients versus 1 among 4232 control-treated patients. In 47 global controlled and uncontrolled clinical trials of HUMIRA in adult patients with RA, PsA, AS, CD, UC and Ps with a median duration of approximately 0.6 years, including 23,036 patients and over 34,000 patient-years of HUMIRA, the observed rate of lymphomas was approximately 0.11 per 100 patient-years. This is approximately 3-fold higher than expected in the general U.S. population according to the SEER database (adjusted for age, gender, and race).1 Rates of lymphoma in clinical trials of HUMIRA cannot be compared to rates of lymphoma in clinical trials of other TNF blockers and may not predict the rates observed in a broader patient population. Patients with RA and other chronic inflammatory diseases, particularly those with highly active disease and/or chronic exposure to immunosuppressant therapies, may be at a higher risk (up to several fold) than the general population for the development of lymphoma, even in the absence of TNF blockers. Post-marketing cases of acute and chronic leukemia have been reported in association with TNF-blocker use in RA and other indications. Even in the absence of TNF-blocker therapy, patients with RA may be at a higher risk (approximately 2-fold) than the general population for the development of leukemia.
Malignancies in Pediatric Patients and Young Adults
Malignancies, some fatal, have been reported among children, adolescents, and young adults who received treatment with TNF-blockers (initiation of therapy ≤ 18 years of age), of which HUMIRA is a member [see BOXED WARNING]. Approximately half the cases were lymphomas, including Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The other cases represented a variety of different malignancies and included rare malignancies usually associated with immunosuppression and malignancies that are not usually observed in children and adolescents. The malignancies occurred after a median of 30 months of therapy (range 1 to 84 months). Most of the patients were receiving concomitant immunosuppressants. These cases were reported post-marketing and are derived from a variety of sources including registries and spontaneous postmarketing reports.
Postmarketing cases of hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma (HSTCL), a rare type of T-cell lymphoma, have been reported in patients treated with TNF blockers including HUMIRA [see BOXED WARNING]. These cases have had a very aggressive disease course and have been fatal. The majority of reported TNF blocker cases have occurred in patients with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis and the majority were in adolescent and young adult males. Almost all of these patients had received treatment with the immunosuppressants azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine (6–MP) concomitantly with a TNF blocker at or prior to diagnosis. It is uncertain whether the occurrence of HSTCL is related to use of a TNF blocker or a TNF blocker in combination with these other immunosuppressants. The potential risk with the combination of azathioprine or 6mercaptopurine and HUMIRA should be carefully considered.
Anaphylaxis and angioneurotic edema have been reported following HUMIRA administration. If an anaphylactic or other serious allergic reaction occurs, immediately discontinue administration of HUMIRA and institute appropriate therapy. In clinical trials of HUMIRA in adults, allergic reactions (e.g., allergic rash, anaphylactoid reaction, fixed drug reaction, non-specified drug reaction, urticaria) have been observed.
Hepatitis B Virus Reactivation
Use of TNF blockers, including HUMIRA, may increase the risk of reactivation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in patients who are chronic carriers of this virus. In some instances, HBV reactivation occurring in conjunction with TNF blocker therapy has been fatal. The majority of these reports have occurred in patients concomitantly receiving other medications that suppress the immune system, which may also contribute to HBV reactivation. Evaluate patients at risk for HBV infection for prior evidence of HBV infection before initiating TNF blocker therapy. Exercise caution in prescribing TNF blockers for patients identified as carriers of HBV. Adequate data are not available on the safety or efficacy of treating patients who are carriers of HBV with anti-viral therapy in conjunction with TNF blocker therapy to prevent HBV reactivation. For patients who are carriers of HBV and require treatment with TNF blockers, closely monitor such patients for clinical and laboratory signs of active HBV infection throughout therapy and for several months following termination of therapy. In patients who develop HBV reactivation, stop HUMIRA and initiate effective anti-viral therapy with appropriate supportive treatment. The safety of resuming TNF blocker therapy after HBV reactivation is controlled is not known. Therefore, exercise caution when considering resumption of HUMIRA therapy in this situation and monitor patients closely.
Use of TNF blocking agents, including HUMIRA, has been associated with rare cases of new onset or exacerbation of clinical symptoms and/or radiographic evidence of central nervous system demyelinating disease, including multiple sclerosis (MS) and optic neuritis, and peripheral demyelinating disease, including Guillain-Barré syndrome. Exercise caution in considering the use of HUMIRA in patients with preexisting or recent-onset central or peripheral nervous system demyelinating disorders.
Rare reports of pancytopenia including aplastic anemia have been reported with TNF blocking agents. Adverse reactions of the hematologic system, including medically significant cytopenia (e.g., thrombocytopenia, leukopenia) have been infrequently reported with HUMIRA. The causal relationship of these reports to HUMIRA remains unclear. Advise all patients to seek immediate medical attention if they develop signs and symptoms suggestive of blood dyscrasias or infection (e.g., persistent fever, bruising, bleeding, pallor) while on HUMIRA. Consider discontinuation of HUMIRA therapy in patients with confirmed significant hematologic abnormalities.
Use With Anakinra
Concurrent use of anakinra (an interleukin-1 antagonist) and another TNF-blocker, was associated with a greater proportion of serious infections and neutropenia and no added benefit compared with the TNF-blocker alone in patients with RA. Therefore, the combination of HUMIRA and anakinra is not recommended [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Cases of worsening congestive heart failure (CHF) and new onset CHF have been reported with TNF blockers. Cases of worsening CHF have also been observed with HUMIRA. HUMIRA has not been formally studied in patients with CHF; however, in clinical trials of another TNF blocker, a higher rate of serious CHF-related adverse reactions was observed. Exercise caution when using HUMIRA in patients who have heart failure and monitor them carefully.
Treatment with HUMIRA may result in the formation of autoantibodies and, rarely, in the development of a lupus-like syndrome. If a patient develops symptoms suggestive of a lupus-like syndrome following treatment with HUMIRA, discontinue treatment [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].
In a placebo-controlled clinical trial of patients with RA, no difference was detected in antipneumococcal antibody response between HUMIRA and placebo treatment groups when the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine and influenza vaccine were administered concurrently with HUMIRA. Similar proportions of patients developed protective levels of anti-influenza antibodies between HUMIRA and placebo treatment groups; however, titers in aggregate to influenza antigens were moderately lower in patients receiving HUMIRA. The clinical significance of this is unknown. Patients on HUMIRA may receive concurrent vaccinations, except for live vaccines. No data are available on the secondary transmission of infection by live vaccines in patients receiving HUMIRA.
It is recommended that JIA patients, if possible, be brought up to date with all immunizations in agreement with current immunization guidelines prior to initiating HUMIRA therapy. Patients on HUMIRA may receive concurrent vaccinations, except for live vaccines.
Use With Abatacept
In controlled trials, the concurrent administration of TNF-blockers and abatacept was associated with a greater proportion of serious infections than the use of a TNF-blocker alone; the combination therapy, compared to the use of a TNF-blocker alone, has not demonstrated improved clinical benefit in the treatment of RA. Therefore, the combination of abatacept with TNF-blockers including HUMIRA is not recommended [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
1. Nationkal Cancer Institute. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Database (SEER) Program. SEER Incidence Crude Rates, 11 Registries, 1993-2001.
Patient Counseling Information
See FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide and Instructions for Use).
Provide the HUMIRA “Medication Guide” to patients or their caregivers, and provide them an opportunity to read it and ask questions prior to initiation of therapy and prior to each time the prescription is renewed. If patients develop signs and symptoms of infection, instruct them to seek medical evaluation immediately.
Advise patients of the potential benefits and risks of HUMIRA.
Inform patients that HUMIRA may lower the ability of their immune system to fight infections. Instruct patients of the importance of contacting their doctor if they develop any symptoms of infection, including tuberculosis, invasive fungal infections, and reactivation of hepatitis B virus infections.
Counsel patients about the risk of malignancies while receiving HUMIRA.
- Allergic Reactions
Advise patients to seek immediate medical attention if they experience any symptoms of severe allergic reactions. Advise latex-sensitive patients that the needle cap of the prefilled syringe contains latex.
- Other Medical Conditions
Advise patients to report any signs of new or worsening medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, neurological disease, autoimmune disorders, or cytopenias. Advise patients to report any symptoms suggestive of a cytopenia such as bruising, bleeding, or persistent fever.
Instruction On Injection Technique
Inform patients that the first injection is to be performed under the supervision of a qualified health care professional. If a patient or caregiver is to administer HUMIRA, instruct them in injection techniques and assess their ability to inject subcutaneously to ensure the proper administration of HUMIRA [see Instructions for Use].
For patients who will use the HUMIRA Pen, tell them that they:
- Will hear a loud ‘click' when the plum-colored activator button is pressed. The loud click means the start of the injection.
- Must keep holding the HUMIRA Pen against their squeezed, raised skin until all of the medicine is injected. This can take up to 10 seconds.
- Will know that the injection has finished when the yellow marker fully appears in the window view and stops moving.
Instruct patients to dispose of their used needles and syringes or used Pen in a FDA-cleared sharps disposal container immediately after use. Instruct patients not to dispose of loose needles and syringes or Pen in their household trash. Instruct patients that if they do not have a FDA-cleared sharps disposal container, they may use a household container that is made of a heavy-duty plastic, can be closed with a tight-fitting and puncture-resistant lid without sharps being able to come out, upright and stable during use, leak-resistant, and properly labeled to warn of hazardous waste inside the container.
Instruct patients that when their sharps disposal container is almost full, they will need to follow their community guidelines for the correct way to dispose of their sharps disposal container.
Instruct patients that there may be state or local laws regarding disposal of used needles and syringes. Refer patients to the FDA's website at http://www.fda.gov/safesharpsdisposal for more information about safe sharps disposal, and for specific information about sharps disposal in the state that they live in.
Instruct patients not to dispose of their used sharps disposal container in their household trash unless their community guidelines permit this. Instruct patients not to recycle their used sharps disposal container.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
Long-term animal studies of HUMIRA have not been conducted to evaluate the carcinogenic potential or its effect on fertility. No clastogenic or mutagenic effects of HUMIRA were observed in the in vivo mouse micronucleus test or the Salmonella-Escherichia coli (Ames) assay, respectively.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category B - Risk Summary
Adequate and well controlled studies with HUMIRA have not been conducted in pregnant women. Adalimumab is an IgG1 monoclonal antibody and IgG1 is actively transferred across the placenta during the third trimester of pregnancy. Adalimumab serum levels were obtained from ten women treated with HUMIRA during pregnancy and eight newborn infants suggest active placental transfer of adalimumab. No fetal harm was observed in reproductive studies performed in cynomolgus monkeys. Because animal reproductive studies are not always predictive of human response, this drug should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.
In general, monoclonal antibodies are transported across the placenta in a linear fashion as pregnancy progresses, with the largest amount transferred during the third trimester.
In an independent clinical study conducted in ten pregnant women with inflammatory bowel disease treated with HUMIRA, adalimumab concentrations were measured in maternal blood as well as in cord (n=10) and infant blood (n=8) on the day of birth. The last dose of HUMIRA was given between 1 and 56 days prior to delivery. Adalimumab concentrations were 0.16-19.7 μg/mL in cord blood, 4.28-17.7 μg/mL in infant blood, and 0-16.1 μg/mL in maternal blood. In all but one case, the cord blood level of adalimumab was higher than the maternal level, suggesting adalimumab actively crosses the placenta. In addition, one infant had levels at each of the following: 6 weeks (1.94 μg/mL), 7 weeks (1.31 μg/mL), 8 weeks (0.93 μg/mL), and 11 weeks (0.53 μg/mL), suggesting adalimumab can be detected in the serum of infants exposed in utero for at least 3 months from birth.
An embryo-fetal perinatal developmental toxicity study has been performed in cynomolgus monkeys at dosages up to 100 mg/kg (266 times human AUC when given 40 mg subcutaneously with methotrexate every week or 373 times human AUC when given 40 mg subcutaneously without methotrexate) and has revealed no evidence of harm to the fetuses due to adalimumab.
Limited data from published literature indicate that adalimumab is present in low levels in human milk and is not likely to be absorbed by a breastfed infant. However, no data is available on the absorption of adalimumab from breastmilk in newborn or preterm infants. Caution should be exercised when HUMIRA is administered to a nursing woman.
Safety and efficacy of HUMIRA in pediatric patients for uses other than juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) have not been established. Due to its inhibition of TNFα, HUMIRA administered during pregnancy could affect immune response in the in utero-exposed newborn and infant. Data from eight infants exposed to HUMIRA in utero, suggest adalimumab crosses the placenta [see Use In Specific Populations]. The clinical significance of elevated adalimumab levels in infants is unknown. The safety of administering live or live-attenuated vaccines in exposed infants is unknown. Risks and benefits should be considered prior to vaccinating (live or live-attenuated) exposed infants.
Post-marketing cases of lymphoma, including hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma and other malignancies, some fatal, have been reported among children, adolescents, and young adults who received treatment with TNF-blockers including HUMIRA [see BOXED WARNING and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
In the JIA trial, HUMIRA was shown to reduce signs and symptoms of active polyarticular JIA in patients 4 to 17 years of age [see Clinical Studies]. HUMIRA has not been studied in children less than 4 years of age, and there are limited data on HUMIRA treatment in children with weight < 15 kg.
The safety of HUMIRA in pediatric patients in the JIA trial was generally similar to that observed in adults with certain exceptions [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].
A total of 519 RA patients 65 years of age and older, including 107 patients 75 years of age and older, received HUMIRA in clinical studies RA-I through IV. No overall difference in effectiveness was observed between these subjects and younger subjects. The frequency of serious infection and malignancy among HUMIRA treated subjects over 65 years of age was higher than for those under 65 years of age. Because there is a higher incidence of infections and malignancies in the elderly population, use caution when treating the elderly.
Last reviewed on RxList: 5/30/2014
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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