July 29, 2016
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Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder

NULOJIX-treated patients have an increased risk for developing post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD), predominantly involving the CNS, compared to patients on a cyclosporine-based regimen [see ADVERSE REACTIONS and Table 2]. As the total burden of immunosuppression is a risk factor for PTLD, higher than the recommended doses or more frequent dosing of NULOJIX and higher than recommended doses of concomitant immunosuppressive agents are not recommended [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and Liver Transplant]. Physicians should consider PTLD in patients reporting new or worsening neurological, cognitive, or behavioral signs or symptoms.

EBV Serostatus

The risk of PTLD was higher in EBV seronegative patients compared to EBV seropositive patients. EBV seropositive patients are defined as having evidence of acquired immunity shown by the presence of IgG antibodies to viral capsid antigen (VCA) and EBV nuclear antigen (EBNA).

Epstein-Barr virus serology should be ascertained before starting administration of NULOJIX, and only patients who are EBV seropositive should receive NULOJIX. Transplant recipients who are EBV seronegative, or with unknown serostatus, should not receive NULOJIX [see BOXED WARNING and CONTRAINDICATIONS].

Other Risk Factors

Other known risk factors for PTLD include cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and T-cell­depleting therapy. T-cell-depleting therapies to treat acute rejection should be used cautiously. CMV prophylaxis is recommended for at least 3 months after transplantation [see Other Serious Infections].

Patients who are EBV seropositive and CMV seronegative may be at increased risk for PTLD compared to patients who are EBV seropositive and CMV seropositive [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Since CMV seronegative patients are at increased risk for CMV disease (a known risk factor for PTLD), the clinical significance of CMV serology for PTLD remains to be determined; however, these findings should be considered when prescribing NULOJIX.

Management Of Immunosuppression

Only physicians experienced in management of systemic immunosuppressant therapy in transplantation should prescribe NULOJIX. Patients receiving the drug should be managed in facilities equipped and staffed with adequate laboratory and supportive medical resources. The physician responsible for the maintenance therapy should have complete information requisite for the follow-up of the patient [see BOXED WARNING].

Other Malignancies

Patients receiving immunosuppressants, including NULOJIX, are at increased risk of developing malignancies, in addition to PTLD, including the skin [see BOXED WARNING and Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder]. Exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) light should be limited by wearing protective clothing and using a sunscreen with a high protection factor.

Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is an often rapidly progressive and fatal opportunistic infection of the CNS that is caused by the JC virus, a human polyoma virus. In clinical trials with NULOJIX, two cases of PML were reported in patients receiving NULOJIX at higher cumulative doses and more frequently than the recommended regimen, along with mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and corticosteroids; one case occurred in a kidney transplant recipient and the second case occurred in a liver transplant recipient [see Liver Transplant]. As PML has been associated with high levels of overall immunosuppression, the recommended doses and frequency of NULOJIX and concomitant immunosuppressives, including MMF, should not be exceeded.

Physicians should consider PML in the differential diagnosis in patients with new or worsening neurological, cognitive, or behavioral signs or symptoms. PML is usually diagnosed by brain imaging, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) testing for JC viral DNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and/or brain biopsy. Consultation with a specialist (e.g., neurologist and/or infectious disease) should be considered for any suspected or confirmed cases of PML.

If PML is diagnosed, consideration should be given to reduction or withdrawal of immunosuppression taking into account the risk to the allograft.

Other Serious Infections

Patients receiving immunosuppressants, including NULOJIX, are at increased risk of developing bacterial, viral (cytomegalovirus [CMV] and herpes), fungal, and protozoal infections, including opportunistic infections. These infections may lead to serious, including fatal, outcomes [see BOXED WARNING and ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Prophylaxis for cytomegalovirus is recommended for at least 3 months after transplantation. Prophylaxis for Pneumocystis jiroveci is recommended after transplantation.


Tuberculosis was more frequently observed in patients receiving NULOJIX than cyclosporine in clinical trials [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Patients should be evaluated for tuberculosis and tested for latent infection prior to initiating NULOJIX. Treatment of latent tuberculosis infection should be initiated prior to NULOJIX use.

Polyoma Virus Nephropathy

In addition to cases of JC virus-associated PML [see Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy], cases of polyoma virus-associated nephropathy (PVAN), mostly due to BK virus infection, have been reported. PVAN is associated with serious outcomes; including deteriorating renal function and kidney graft loss [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Patient monitoring may help detect patients at risk for PVAN. Reductions in immunosuppression should be considered for patients who develop evidence of PVAN. Physicians should also consider the risk that reduced immunosuppression represents to the functioning allograft.

Liver Transplant

Use of NULOJIX in liver transplant patients is not recommended [see BOXED WARNING]. In a clinical trial of liver transplant patients, use of NULOJIX regimens with more frequent administration of belatacept than any of those studied in kidney transplant, along with mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and corticosteroids, was associated with a higher rate of graft loss and death compared to the tacrolimus control arms. In addition, two cases of PTLD involving the liver allograft (one fatal) and one fatal case of PML were observed among the 147 patients randomized to NULOJIX. The two cases of PTLD were reported among the 140 EBV seropositive patients (1.4%). The fatal case of PML was reported in a patient receiving higher than recommended doses of NULOJIX and MMF [see Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy].

Acute Rejection And Graft Loss With Corticosteroid Minimization

In postmarketing experience, use of NULOJIX in conjunction with basiliximab induction, MMF, and corticosteroid minimization to 5 mg per day between Day 3 and Week 6 post-transplant was associated with an increased rate and grade of acute rejection, particularly Grade III rejection. These Grade III rejections occurred in patients with 4 to 6 HLA mismatches. Graft loss was a consequence of Grade III rejection in some patients.

Corticosteroid utilization should be consistent with the NULOJIX clinical trial experience [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and Clinical Studies].


The use of live vaccines should be avoided during treatment with NULOJIX, including but not limited to the following: intranasal influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, oral polio, BCG, yellow fever, varicella, and TY21a typhoid vaccines.

Patient Counseling Information

Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide).

Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder

The overall risk of PTLD, especially CNS PTLD, was elevated in NULOJIX-treated patients. Instruct patients to immediately report any of the following neurological, cognitive, or behavioral signs and symptoms during and after therapy with NULOJIX [see BOXED WARNING and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]:

  • changes in mood or usual behavior
  • confusion, problems thinking, loss of memory
  • changes in walking or talking
  • decreased strength or weakness on one side of the body
  • changes in vision
Other Malignancies

Inform patients about the increased risk of malignancies, in addition to PTLD, while taking immunosuppressive therapy, especially skin cancer. Instruct patients to limit exposure to sunlight and UV light by wearing protective clothing and using a sunscreen with a high protection factor. Instruct patients to look for any signs and symptoms of skin cancer, such as suspicious moles or lesions [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy

Cases of PML have been reported in NULOJIX-treated patients. Instruct patients to immediately report any of the following neurological, cognitive, or behavioral signs and symptoms during and after therapy with NULOJIX [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]:

  • changes in mood or usual behavior
  • confusion, problems thinking, loss of memory
  • changes in walking or talking
  • decreased strength or weakness on one side of the body
  • changes in vision
Other Serious Infections

Inform patients about the increased risk of infection while taking immunosuppressive therapy. Instruct patients to adhere to antimicrobial prophylaxis regimens as prescribed. Tell patients to immediately report any signs and symptoms of infection during therapy with NULOJIX [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].


Inform patients that vaccinations may be less effective while they are being treated with NULOJIX. Advise patients that live vaccines should be avoided [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Pregnant Women and Nursing Mothers

Inform patients that NULOJIX has not been studied in pregnant women or nursing mothers so the effects of NULOJIX on pregnant women or nursing infants are not known. Instruct patients to tell their healthcare provider if they are pregnant, become pregnant, or are thinking about becoming pregnant [see Use In Specific Populations]. Instruct patients to tell their healthcare provider if they plan to breast-feed their infant [see Use in Specific Populations].

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility

A carcinogenicity study was not conducted with belatacept. However, a murine carcinogenicity study was conducted with abatacept (a more active analog in rodents) to determine the carcinogenic potential of CD28 blockade. Weekly subcutaneous injections of 20, 65, or 200 mg per kg of abatacept were associated with increases in the incidence of malignant lymphomas (all doses) and mammary gland tumors (intermediate-and high-dose in females) at clinically relevant exposures. The mice in this study were infected with endogenous murine leukemia and mouse mammary tumor viruses which are associated with an increased incidence of lymphomas and mammary gland tumors, respectively, in immunosuppressed mice. Although the precise relevance of these findings to the clinical use of NULOJIX is unknown, cases of PTLD (a premalignant or malignant proliferation of B lymphocytes) were reported in clinical trials.

Genotoxicity testing is not required for protein therapeutics; therefore, no genotoxicity studies were conducted with belatacept.

Belatacept had no adverse effects on male or female fertility in rats at doses up to 200 mg per kg daily (25 times the MRHD exposure).

Use In Specific Populations


Pregnancy Category C

NULOJIX should not be used in pregnancy unless the potential benefit to the mother outweighs the potential risk to the fetus. There are no studies of NULOJIX treatment in pregnant women. Belatacept is known to cross the placenta of animals. Belatacept was not teratogenic in pregnant rats and rabbits at doses approximately 16 and 19 times greater than the exposure associated with the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 10 mg per kg administered over the first month of treatment, based on area under the concentration-time curve (AUC).

Belatacept administered to female rats daily during gestation and throughout the lactation period was associated with maternal toxicity (infections) in a small percentage of dams at doses of ≥ 20 mg per kg ( ≥ 3 times the MRHD exposure based on AUC) resulting in increased pup mortality (up to 100% pup mortality in some dams). In pups that survived, there were no abnormalities or malformations at doses up to 200 mg per kg (19 times the MRHD exposure).

In vitro data indicate that belatacept has lower binding affinity to CD80/CD86 and lower potency in rodents than in humans. Although the rat toxicity studies with belatacept were done at pharmacologically saturating doses, the in vivo difference in potency between rats and humans is unknown. Therefore, the relevance of the rat toxicities to humans and the significance of the magnitude of the relative exposures (rats: humans) are unknown.

Abatacept, a fusion protein that differs from belatacept by 2 amino acids, binds to the same ligands (CD80/CD86) and blocks T-cell costimulation like belatacept, but is more active than belatacept in rodents. Therefore, toxicities identified with abatacept in rodents, including infections and autoimmunity, may be predictive of adverse effects in humans treated with belatacept [see Nonclinical Toxicology].

Autoimmunity was observed in one rat offspring exposed to abatacept in utero and/or during lactation and in juvenile rats after treatment with abatacept. However, the clinical relevance of autoimmunity in rats to patients or a fetus exposed in utero is unknown [see Nonclinical Toxicology].

Pregnancy Registry

To monitor maternal-fetal outcomes of pregnant women who have received NULOJIX or whose partners have received NULOJIX, healthcare providers are strongly encouraged to register pregnant patients in the National Transplant Pregnancy Registry (NTPR) by calling 1-877-955-6877.

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether belatacept is excreted in human milk or absorbed systemically after ingestion by a nursing infant. However, belatacept is excreted in rat milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions from NULOJIX in nursing infants, 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

The safety and efficacy of NULOJIX in patients under 18 years of age have not been established. Because T cell development continues into the teenage years, the potential concern for autoimmunity in neonates applies to pediatric use as well [see Use In Specific Populations].

Geriatric Use

Of 401 patients treated with the recommended dosage regimen of NULOJIX, 15% were 65 years of age and older, while 3% were 75 and older. No overall differences in safety or effectiveness were observed between these subjects and younger subjects, but greater sensitivity or less efficacy in older individuals cannot be ruled out.

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

Last reviewed on RxList: 10/14/2014


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