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"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Otezla (apremilast) to treat adults with active psoriatic arthritis (PsA).

PsA is a form of arthritis that affects some people with psoriasis. Most people develop psoriasis first and are "...



Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.



Treatment with OTEZLA is associated with an increase in adverse reactions of depression. During the 0 to 16 weeks placebo-controlled period of the 3 controlled clinical trials, 1.0% (10/998) of patients treated with OTEZLA reported depression or depressed mood compared to 0.8% (4/495) treated with placebo. During the clinical trials, 0.3% (4/1441) of patients treated with OTEZLA discontinued treatment due to depression or depressed mood compared with none in placebo treated patients (0/495). Depression was reported as serious in 0.2% (3/1441) of patients exposed to OTEZLA, compared to none in placebo treated patients (0/495). Instances of suicidal ideation and behavior have been observed in 0.2% (3/1441) of patients while receiving OTEZLA, compared to none in placebo treated patients (0/495). In the clinical trials, two patients who received placebo committed suicide compared to none in OTEZLA treated patients.

Before using OTEZLA in patients with a history of depression and/or suicidal thoughts or behavior prescribers should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of treatment with OTEZLA in such patients. Patients, their caregivers, and families should be advised of the need to be alert for the emergence or worsening of depression, suicidal thoughts or other mood changes, and if such changes occur to contact their healthcare provider. Prescribers should carefully evaluate the risks and benefits of continuing treatment with OTEZLA if such events occur.

Weight Decrease

During the controlled period of the studies, weight decrease between 5-10% of body weight was reported in 10% (49/497) of patients treated with OTEZLA 30 mg twice daily compared to 3.3% (16/495) treated with placebo [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Patients treated with OTEZLA should have their weight monitored regularly. If unexplained or clinically significant weight loss occurs, weight loss should be evaluated, and discontinuation of OTEZLA should be considered.

Drug Interactions

Co-administration of strong cytochrome P450 enzyme inducer, rifampin, resulted in a reduction of systemic exposure of apremilast, which may result in a loss of efficacy of OTEZLA. Therefore, the use of cytochrome P450 enzyme inducers (e.g. rifampin, phenobarbital, carbamazepine, phenytoin) with OTEZLA is not recommended. [see DRUG INTERACTIONS and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility

Long-term studies were conducted in mice and rats with apremilast to evaluate its carcinogenic potential. No evidence of apremilast-induced tumors was observed in mice at oral doses up to 8.8 the MRHD on an AUC basis (1000 mg/kg/day) or in rats at oral doses up to approximately 0.08- and 1.1-times the MRHD, (20 mg/kg/day in males and 3 mg/kg/day in females, respectively).

Apremilast tested negative in the Ames assay, in vitro chromosome aberration assay of human peripheral blood lymphocytes, and the in vivo mouse micronucleus assay.

In a fertility study of male mice, apremilast at oral dosages up to approximately 3-times the MRHD based AUC (up to 50 mg/kg/day) produced no effects on male fertility. In a fertility study of female mice, apremilast was administered at oral dosages of 10, 20, 40, or 80 mg/kg/day. At dosages > 1.8-times the MRHD ( > 20 mg/kg/day), estrous cycles were prolonged, due to lengthening of diestrus which resulted in a longer interval until mating. Mice that became pregnant at dosages of 20 mg/kg/day and greater also had increased incidences of early postimplantation losses. There was no effect of apremilast approximately 1.0-times the MRHD (10 mg/kg/day).

Use In Specific Populations


Pregnancy Category C

Pregnancy Exposure Registry

There is a pregnancy exposure registry that monitors pregnancy outcomes in women exposed to OTEZLA during pregnancy. Information about the registry can be obtained by calling 1-877-311-8972.

Risk Summary

Adequate and well-controlled studies with OTEZLA have not been conducted in pregnant women. In animal embryo-fetal development studies, the administration of apremilast to cynomolgus monkeys during organogenesis resulted in dose-related increases in abortion/embryo-fetal death at dose exposures 2.1-times the maximal recommended human therapeutic dose (MRHD) and no adverse effect at an exposure of 1.4-times the MRHD. In mice, there were no apremilast induced malformations up to exposures 4.0-times the MRHD. The incidences of malformations and pregnancy loss in human pregnancies have not been established for OTEZLA. However, all pregnancies, regardless of drug exposure, have a background rate of 2 to 4% for major malformations, and 15 to 20% for pregnancy loss. OTEZLA should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Clinical Considerations

Labor or delivery

The effects of OTEZLA on labor and delivery in pregnant women are unknown. In mice, dystocia was noted at doses corresponding to ≥ 4.0-times the MRHD (on an AUC basis at doses ≥ 80 mg/kg/day) of apremilast.

Animal Data

Monkey embryo-fetal development: In an embryo-fetal developmental study, cynomolgus monkeys were administered apremilast at doses of 20, 50, 200, or 1000 mg/kg/day during the period of organogenesis (gestation days 20 through 50). There was a dose-related increase in spontaneous abortions, with most abortions occurring during weeks 3 to 4 of dosing in the first trimester, at doses approximately 2.1-times the MRHD and greater (on an AUC basis at doses ≥ 50 mg/kg/day). No abortifacient effects were observed at a dose approximately 1.4-times the MRHD (on an AUC basis at a dose of 20 mg/kg/day). Although, there was no evidence for a teratogenic effect at doses of 20 mg/kg/day and greater when examined at day 100, aborted fetuses were not examined.

Mouse embryo-fetal development: In an embryo-fetal development study, apremilast was administered at dosages of 250, 500, or 750 mg/kg/day to dams during organogenesis (gestation day 6 through 15). In a combined fertility and embryo-fetal development study, apremilast was administered at dosages of 10, 20, 40 or 80 mg/kg/day starting 15 days before cohabitation and continuing through gestation day 15. No teratogenic findings attributed to apremilast were observed in either study; however, there was an increase in postimplantation loss at doses corresponding to a systemic exposure of 2.3-times the MRHD and greater ( ≥ 20 mg/kg/day). At doses of ≥ 20 mg/kg/day skeletal variations included incomplete ossification sites of tarsals, skull, sternebra, and vertebrae. No effects were observed at a dose approximately 1.3-times the MRHD (10 mg/kg/day).

Mouse pre- and postnatal development: In a pre- and postnatal study in mice, apremilast was administered to pregnant female mice at doses of 10, 80, or 300 mg/kg/day from day 6 of gestation through day 20 of lactation, with weaning on day 21. Dystocia, reduced viability, and reduced birth weights occurred at doses corresponding to ≥ 4.0-times the MRHD (on an AUC basis at doses ≥ 80 mg/kg/day). No adverse effects occurred at a dose 1.3-times the MRHD (10 mg/kg/day). There was no evidence for functional impairment of physical development, behavior, learning ability, immune competence, or fertility in the offspring at doses up to 7.5-times the MRHD (on an AUC basis at a dose of 300 mg/kg/day).

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether OTEZLA or its metabolites are present in human milk; however apremilast was detected in milk of lactating mice. Because many drugs are present in human milk, caution should be exercised when OTEZLA is administered to a nursing woman.

Pediatric Use

The safety and effectiveness of OTEZLA in pediatric patients less than18 years of age have not been established.

Geriatric Use

Of the 1493 patients who enrolled in Studies PsA-1, PsA-2, and PsA-3 a total of 146 psoriatic arthritis patients were 65 years of age and older, including 19 patients 75 years and older. No overall differences were observed in the safety profile of elderly patients ≥ 65 years of age and younger adult patients < 65 years of age in the clinical studies.

Renal Impairment

OTEZLA pharmacokinetics were not characterized in subjects with mild (creatinine clearance of 60-89 mL per minute estimated by the Cockroft–Gault equation) or moderate(creatinine clearance of 30-59 mL per minute estimated by the Cockroft–Gault equation) renal impairment. The dose of OTEZLA should be reduced to 30 mg once daily in patients with severe renal impairment (creatinine clearance of less than 30 mL per minute estimated by the Cockroft–Gault equation) [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Hepatic Impairment

Apremilast pharmacokinetics were characterized in subjects with moderate (Child Pugh B) and severe (Child Pugh C) hepatic impairment. No dose adjustment is necessary in these patients.

Last reviewed on RxList: 3/31/2014
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.


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