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Nulojix Side Effects Center
Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Nulojix (belatacept) is a selective T-cell costimulation blocker that is indicated for the prevention of organ rejection in adult patients receiving a kidney transplant (not approved for other organ transplants). There is no generic form available. Nulojix is approved for use with other immunosuppressants (medications that suppress the immune system) and corticosteroids. Nulojix is for intravenous infusion only. Common side effects include anemia, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, electrolyte abnormalities, fever, headache, and leukopenia. Do not use in patients that are Epstein-Barr virus seronegative.
Nulojix lyophilized powder for IV use is available in 250 mg per single-use vial. Nulojix is available in vials for IV infusion only and should be administered by a person trained in the procedure. Dosage is complicated and the following steps should be followed: The total infusion dose of NULOJIX should be based on the actual body weight of the patient at the time of transplantation, and should not be modified during the course of therapy, unless there is a change in body weight of greater than 10%.The prescribed dose of NULOJIX must be evenly divisible by 12.5 mg in order for the dose to be prepared accurately using the reconstituted solution and the silicone-free disposable syringe provided. Doctors should examine the Tables provided by the drug company for administration and dose calculations. The most serious adverse reactions reported with Nulojix are infections, specifically cryptococcal meningitis, cytomegalovirus, tuberculosis and PTLD. With Nulojix, there is an increased risk of developing post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD), a type of cancer where white blood cells grow out of control after an organ transplant. The risk of PTLD is higher for transplant patients who have never been exposed to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the cause of mononucleosis. Patients should be informed 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. Patients should tell their healthcare provider if they are pregnant, become pregnant, or are thinking about becoming pregnant. Patients should tell their healthcare providers if they plan to breast-feed their infants. 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. Safety and efficacy in pediatric patients has not been established.
Our Nulojix Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What is Patient Information in Detail?
Easy-to-read and understand detailed drug information and pill images for the patient or caregiver from Cerner Multum.
Nulojix in Detail - Patient Information: Side Effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Serious and sometimes fatal infections may occur during treatment with belatacept. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as:
- fever, night sweats, tired feeling;
- cough, sore throat, swollen glands;
- flu symptoms, weight loss;
- confusion, change in your mental state;
- problems with thinking or memory;
- problems with speech or walking,
- decreased vision;
- stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea;
- tenderness on the side where you received the transplanted kidney;
- a new bump or lesion on your skin, or a mole that has changed in size or color; or
- blood in your urine, pain or burning when you urinate, urinating less than usual or not at all.
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
- pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating;
- wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing;
- high potassium (slow heart rate, weak pulse, muscle weakness, tingly feeling);
- low potassium (confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling);
- high blood sugar (increased thirst, increased urination, hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, dry skin, blurred vision, weight loss); or
- dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).
Less serious side effects may include:
- nausea, constipation;
- headache, back pain, joint pain;
- cold symptoms such as runny or stuffy nose, sneezing
- sleep problems (insomnia); or
- swelling in your hands or feet.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Nulojix (Belatacept) »
What is Prescribing information?
The FDA package insert formatted in easy-to-find categories for health professionals and clinicians.
Nulojix FDA Prescribing Information: Side Effects
The most serious adverse reactions reported with NULOJIX are:
- PTLD, predominantly CNS PTLD, and other malignancies [see BOXED WARNING and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Serious infections, including JC virus-associated PML and polyoma virus nephropathy [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
Clinical Studies Experience
The data described below primarily derive from two randomized, active-controlled three-year trials of NULOJIX in de novo kidney transplant patients. In Study 1 and Study 2, NULOJIX was studied at the recommended dose and frequency [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION] in a total of 401 patients compared to a cyclosporine control regimen in a total of 405 patients. These two trials also included a total of 403 patients treated with a NULOJIX regimen of higher cumulative dose and more frequent dosing than recommended [see Clinical Studies]. All patients also received basiliximab induction, mycophenolate mofetil, and corticosteroids. Patients were treated and followed for 3 years.
CNS PTLD, PML, and other CNS infections were more frequently observed in association with a NULOJIX regimen of higher cumulative dose and more frequent dosing compared to the recommended regimen; therefore, administration of higher than the recommended doses and/or more frequent dosing of NULOJIX is not recommended [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
The average age of patients in Studies 1 and 2 in the NULOJIX recommended dose and cyclosporine control regimens was 49 years, ranging from 18 to 79 years. Approximately 70% of patients were male; 67% were white, 11% were black, and 22% other races. About 25% of patients were from the United States and 75% from other countries.
Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, the adverse reaction rates observed cannot be directly compared to rates in other trials and may not reflect the rates observed in clinical practice.
The most commonly reported adverse reactions occurring in ≥ 20% of patients treated with the recommended dose and frequency of NULOJIX were anemia, diarrhea, urinary tract infection, peripheral edema, constipation, hypertension, pyrexia, graft dysfunction, cough, nausea, vomiting, headache, hypokalemia, hyperkalemia, and leukopenia.
The proportion of patients who discontinued treatment due to adverse reactions was 13% for the recommended NULOJIX regimen and 19% for the cyclosporine control arm through three years of treatment. The most common adverse reactions leading to discontinuation in NULOJIX-treated patients were cytomegalovirus infection (1.5%) and complications of transplanted kidney (1.5%).
Information on selected significant adverse reactions observed during clinical trials is summarized below.
Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder
Reported cases of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) up to 36 months post transplant were obtained for NULOJIX by pooling both dosage regimens of NULOJIX in Studies 1 and 2 (804 patients) with data from a third study in kidney transplantation (Study 3, 145 patients) which evaluated two NULOJIX dosage regimens similar, but slightly different, from those of Studies 1 and 2 (see Table 2). The total number of NULOJIX patients from these three studies (949) was compared to the pooled cyclosporine control groups from all three studies (476 patients).
Among 401 patients in Studies 1 and 2 treated with the recommended regimen of NULOJIX and the 71 patients in Study 3 treated with a very similar (but non-identical) NULOJIX regimen, there were 5 cases of PTLD: 3 in EBV seropositive patients and 2 in EBV seronegative patients. Two of the 5 cases presented with CNS involvement.
Among the 477 patients in Studies 1, 2, and 3 treated with the NULOJIX regimen of higher cumulative dose and more frequent dosing than recommended, there were 8 cases of PTLD: 2 in EBV seropositive patients and 6 in EBV seronegative or serostatus unknown patients. Six of the 8 cases presented with CNS involvement. Therefore, administration of higher than the recommended doses or more frequent dosing of NULOJIX is not recommended. [See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
One of the 476 patients treated with cyclosporine developed PTLD, without CNS involvement.
All cases of PTLD reported up to 36 months post transplant in NULOJIX-or cyclosporinetreated patients presented within 18 months of transplantation.
Overall, the rate of PTLD in 949 patients treated with any of the NULOJIX regimens was 9-fold higher in those who were EBV seronegative or EBV serostatus unknown (8/139) compared to those who were EBV seropositive (5/810 patients). Therefore NULOJIX is recommended for use only in patients who are EBV seropositive [see BOXED WARNING and CONTRAINDICATIONS].
Table 2: Summary of PTLD Reported in Studies 1, 2, and
3 Through Three Years of Treatment
|Trial||NULOJIX Non-Recommended Regimen*
|NULOJIX Recommended Regimen†
|Total (%)||2 (0.5)||5 (11.6)||1 (3.6)||3 (0.7)||2 (4.1)||0||0||1 (1.8)||0|
|* Regimen with higher cumulative dose and more frequent
dosing than the recommended NULOJIX regimen.
† In Studies 1 and 2 the NULOJIX regimen is identical to the recommended regimen, but is slightly different in Study 3.
EBV Seropositive Subpopulation
Among the 806 EBV seropositive patients with known CMV serostatus treated with either NULOJIX regimen in Studies 1, 2, and 3, two percent (2%; 4/210) of CMV seronegative patients developed PTLD compared to 0.2% (1/596) of CMV seropositive patients. Among the 404 EBV seropositive recipients treated with the recommended dosage regimen of NULOJIX, three PTLD cases were detected among 99 CMV seronegative patients (3%) and there was no case detected among 303 CMV seropositive patients. The clinical significance of CMV serology as a risk factor for PTLD remains to be determined; however, these findings should be considered when prescribing NULOJIX [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Malignancies, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer and PTLD, were reported in Study 1 and Study 2 in 3.5% (14/401) of patients treated with the recommended NULOJIX regimen and 3.7% (15/405) of patients treated with the cyclosporine control regimen. Non-melanoma skin cancer was reported in 1.5% (6/401) of patients treated with the recommended NULOJIX regimen and in 3.7% (15/405) of patients treated with cyclosporine [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy
Two fatal cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) have been reported among 1096 patients treated with a NULOJIX-containing regimen: one patient in clinical trials of kidney transplant (Studies 1, 2, and 3 described above) and one patient in a trial of liver transplant (trial of 250 patients). No cases of PML were reported in patients treated with the recommended NULOJIX regimen or the control regimen in these trials.
The kidney transplant recipient was treated with the NULOJIX regimen of higher cumulative dose and more frequent dosing than recommended, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), and corticosteroids for 2 years. The liver transplant recipient was treated with 6 months of a NULOJIX dosage regimen that was more intensive than that studied in kidney transplant recipients, MMF at doses higher than the recommended dose, and corticosteroids [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Bacterial, Mycobacterial, Viral, and Fungal Infections
Adverse reactions of infectious etiology were reported based on clinical assessment by physicians. The causative organisms for these reactions are identified when provided by the physician. The overall number of infections, serious infections, and select infections with identified etiology reported in patients treated with the NULOJIX recommended regimen or the cyclosporine control in Studies 1 and 2 are shown in Table 3. Fungal infections were reported in 18% of patients receiving NULOJIX compared to 22% receiving cyclosporine, primarily due to skin and mucocutaneous fungal infections. Tuberculosis and herpes infections were reported more frequently in patients receiving NULOJIX than cyclosporine. Of the patients who developed tuberculosis through 3 years, all but one NULOJIX patient lived in countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Table 3: Overall Infections and Select Infections with
Identified Etiology by Treatment Group following One and Three Years of
Treatment in Studies 1 and 2*
|Up to Year 1||Up to Year 3†|
|NULOJIX Recommended Regimen
|NULOJIX Recommended Regimen
|All infections‡||287 (72)||299 (74)||329 (82)||327 (81)|
|Serious infections§||98 (24)||113 (28)||144 (36)||157 (39)|
|CMV||44 (11)||52 (13)||53 (13)||56 (14)|
|Polyoma virus¶||10 (3)||23 (6)||17 (4)||27 (7)|
|Herpes#||27 (7)||26 (6)||55 (14)||46 (11)|
|Tuberculosis||2 (1)||1 ( < 1)||6 (2)||1 ( < 1)|
|* Studies 1 and 2 were not
designed to support comparative claims for NULOJIX for the adverse reactions
reported in this table.
† Median exposure in days for pooled studies: 1203 for NULOJIX recommended regimen and 1163 for cyclosporine in Studies 1 and 2.
‡ All infections include bacterial, viral, fungal, and other organisms. For infectious adverse reactions, the causative organism is reported if specified by the physician in the clinical trials.
§ A medically important event that may be life-threatening or result in death or hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization. Infections not meeting these criteria are considered non-serious.
¶ BK virus-associated nephropathy was reported in 6 NULOJIX patients (4 of which resulted in graft loss) and 6 cyclosporine patients (none of which resulted in graft loss) by Year 3.
#Most herpes infections were non-serious and 1 led to treatment discontinuation.
Infections Reported in the CNS
Following three years of treatment in Studies 1 and 2, cryptococcal meningitis was reported in one patient out of 401 patients treated with the NULOJIX recommended regimen (0.2%) and one patient out of the 405 treated with the cyclosporine control (0.2%).
Six patients out of the 403 who were treated with the NULOJIX regimen of higher cumulative dose and more frequent dosing than recommended in Studies 1 and 2 (1.5%) were reported to have developed CNS infections, including 2 cases of cryptococcal meningitis, one case of
There were no reports of anaphylaxis or drug hypersensitivity in patients treated with NULOJIX in Studies 1 and 2 through three years.
Infusion-related reactions within one hour of infusion were reported in 5% of patients treated with the recommended dose of NULOJIX, similar to the placebo rate. No serious events were reported through Year 3. The most frequent reactions were hypotension and hypertension.
At Month 1 after transplantation in Studies 1 and 2, the frequency of 2+ proteinuria on urine dipstick in patients treated with the NULOJIX recommended regimen was 33% (130/390) and 28% (107/384) in patients treated with the cyclosporine control regimen. The frequency of 2+ proteinuria was similar between the two treatment groups between one and three years after transplantation ( < 10% in both studies). There were no differences in the occurrence of 3+ proteinuria ( < 4% in both studies) at any time point, and no patients experienced 4+ proteinuria. The clinical significance of this increase in early proteinuria is unknown.
Antibodies directed against the belatacept molecule were assessed in 398 patients treated with the NULOJIX recommended regimen in Studies 1 and 2 (212 of these patients were treated for at least 2 years). Of the 372 patients with immunogenicity assessment at baseline (prior to receiving belatacept treatment), 29 patients tested positive for anti-belatacept antibodies; 13 of these patients had antibodies to the modified cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4). Anti-belatacept antibody titers did not increase during treatment in these 29 patients.
Eight (2%) patients developed antibodies during treatment with the NULOJIX recommended regimen. In the patients who developed antibodies during treatment, the median titer (by dilution method) was 8, with a range of 5 to 80. Of 56 patients who tested negative for antibodies during treatment and reassessed approximately 7 half-lives after discontinuation of NULOJIX, 1 tested antibody positive. Anti-belatacept antibody development was not associated with altered clearance of belatacept.
Samples from 6 patients with confirmed binding activity to the modified cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) region of the belatacept molecule were assessed by an in vitro bioassay for the presence of neutralizing antibodies. Three of these 6 patients tested positive for neutralizing antibodies. However, the development of neutralizing antibodies may be underreported due to lack of assay sensitivity.
The clinical impact of anti-belatacept antibodies (including neutralizing anti-belatacept antibodies) could not be determined in the studies.
The data reflect the percentage of patients whose test results were positive for antibodies to belatacept in specific assays. The observed incidence of antibody (including neutralizing antibody) positivity in an assay may be influenced by several factors including assay sensitivity and specificity, assay methodology, sample handling, timing of sample collection, concomitant medications, and underlying disease. For these reasons, comparison of the incidence of antibodies to belatacept with the incidence of antibodies to other products may be misleading.
New-Onset Diabetes After Transplantation
The incidence of new-onset diabetes after transplantation (NODAT) was defined in Studies 1 and 2 as use of an antidiabetic agent for ≥ 30 days or ≥ 2 fasting plasma glucose values ≥ 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) post-transplantation. Of the patients treated with the NULOJIX recommended regimen, 5% (14/304) developed NODAT by the end of one year compared to 10% (27/280) of patients on the cyclosporine control regimen. However, by the end of the third year, the cumulative incidence of NODAT was 8% (24/304) in patients treated with the NULOJIX recommended regimen and 10% (29/280) in patients treated with the cyclosporine regimen.
Blood pressure and use of antihypertensive medications were reported in Studies 1 and 2. By Year 3, one or more antihypertensive medications were used in 85% of NULOJIX-treated patients and 92% of cyclosporine-treated patients. At one year after transplantation, systolic blood pressures were 8 mmHg lower and diastolic blood pressures were 3 mmHg lower in patients treated with the NULOJIX recommended regimen compared to the cyclosporine control regimen. At three years after transplantation, systolic blood pressures were 6 mmHg lower and diastolic blood pressures were 3 mmHg lower in NULOJIX-treated patients compared to cyclosporine-treated patients. Hypertension was reported as an adverse reaction in 32% of NULOJIX-treated patients and 37% of cyclosporine-treated patients (see Table 4).
Mean values of total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides were reported in Studies 1 and 2. At one year after transplantation these values were 183 mg/dL, 50 mg/dL, 102 mg/dL, and 151 mg/dL, respectively, in 401 patients treated with the NULOJIX recommended regimen and 196 mg/dL, 48 mg/dL, 108 mg/dL, and 195 mg/dL, respectively, in 405 patients treated with the cyclosporine control regimen. At three years after transplantation, the total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides were 176 mg/dL, 49 mg/dL, 100 mg/dL, and 141 mg/dL, respectively, in NULOJIX-treated patients compared to 193 mg/dL, 48 mg/dL, 106 mg/dL, and 180 mg/dL in cyclosporine-treated patients.
The clinical significance of the lower mean triglyceride values in NULOJIX-treated patients at one and three years is unknown.
Other Adverse Reactions
Adverse reactions that occurred at a frequency of ≥ 10% in patients treated with the NULOJIX recommended regimen or cyclosporine control regimen in Studies 1 and 2 through three years are summarized by preferred term in decreasing order of frequency within Table 4.
Table 4: Adverse Reactions Reported by ≥ 10%
of Patients Treated with Either the NULOJIX Recommended Regimen or Control in
Studies 1 and 2 Through Three Years*,†
|Adverse Reaction||NULOJIX Recommended Regimen
|Infections and Infestations|
|Urinary tract infection||37||36|
|Upper respiratory infection||15||16|
|Abdominal pain upper||9||10|
|Metabolism and Nutrition Disorders|
|Blood and Lymphatic System Disorders|
|Renal and Urinary Disorders|
|Renal tubular necrosis||9||13|
|Respiratory, Thoracic, and Mediastinal Disorders|
|Blood creatinine increased||15||20|
|Musculoskeletal and Connective Tissue Disorders|
|Nervous System Disorders|
|Skin and Subcutaneous Tissue Disorders|
|* All randomized and
transplanted patients in Studies 1 and 2.
† Studies 1 and 2 were not designed to support comparative claims for NULOJIX for the adverse reactions reported in this table.
Selected adverse reactions occurring in < 10% from NULOJIX-treated patients in either regimen through three years in Studies 1 and 2 are listed below:
Immune System Disorders: Guillain-Barré syndrome
Infections and Infestations: see Table 3 Gastrointestinal Disorders: stomatitis, including aphthous stomatitis
Injury, Poisoning, and Procedural Complications: chronic allograft nephropathy, complications of transplanted kidney, including wound dehiscence, arteriovenous fistula thrombosis
Blood and Lymphatic System Disorders: neutropenia
Vascular Disorders: hematoma, lymphocele
Musculoskeletal and Connective Tissue Disorders: musculoskeletal pain
Cardiac Disorders: atrial fibrillation
Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Nulojix (Belatacept) »
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