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Cardiovascular Thrombotic Events
Clinical trials of several oral COX-2 selective and nonselective NSAIDs of up to three years duration have shown an increased risk of serious cardiovascular (CV) thrombotic events, myocardial infarction (MI), and stroke, which can be fatal. All NSAIDs, including PENNSAID and COX-2 selective and nonselective orally administered NSAIDs, may have a similar risk. Patients with known CV disease or risk factors for CV disease may be at greater risk. To minimize the potential risk for an adverse CV event in patients treated with an NSAID, use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration possible. Physicians and patients should remain alert for the development of such events, even in the absence of previous CV symptoms. Inform patients about the signs and/or symptoms of serious CV events and the steps to take if they occur.
Two large, controlled, clinical trials of an orally administered COX-2 selective NSAID for the treatment of pain in the first 10 to 14 days following CABG surgery found an increased incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].
There is no consistent evidence that concurrent use of aspirin mitigates the increased risk of serious CV thrombotic events associated with NSAID use. The concurrent use of aspirin and NSAIDs, such as diclofenac, does increase the risk of serious gastrointestinal (GI) events [see Gastrointestinal Effects].
Gastrointestinal Effects – Risk Of GI Ulceration, Bleeding, And Perforation
NSAIDs, including diclofenac, can cause serious GI adverse events including bleeding, ulceration, and perforation of the stomach, small intestine, or large intestine, which can be fatal. These serious adverse events can occur at any time, with or without warning symptoms, in patients treated with NSAIDs. Only one in five patients who develop a serious upper GI adverse event on NSAID therapy is symptomatic. Upper GI ulcers, gross bleeding, or perforation caused by NSAIDs occur in approximately 1% of patients treated for 3 to 6 months, and in about 2 to 4% of patients treated for one year. These trends continue with longer duration of use, increasing the likelihood of developing a serious GI event at some time during the course of therapy. However, even short-term therapy is not without risk.
When prescribing PENNSAID, for patients with a prior history of ulcer disease or gastrointestinal bleeding, monitor closely for signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. Patients with a prior history of peptic ulcer disease and/or gastrointestinal bleeding who use NSAIDs have a greater than 10fold increased risk for developing a GI bleed compared to patients with neither of these risk factors. Other factors that increase the risk of GI bleeding in patients treated with NSAIDs include concomitant use of oral corticosteroids or anticoagulants, longer duration of NSAID therapy, smoking, use of alcohol, older age, and poor general health status. Most spontaneous reports of fatal GI events are in elderly or debilitated patients and therefore, use special care when treating this population.
To minimize the potential risk for an adverse GI event, use the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible duration. Remain alert for signs and symptoms of GI ulceration and bleeding during diclofenac therapy and promptly initiate additional evaluation and treatment if a serious GI adverse event is suspected. For high-risk patients, consider alternate therapies that do not involve NSAIDs.
Borderline elevations (less than 3 times the upper limit of the normal [ULN] range) or greater elevations of transaminases occurred in about 15% of oral diclofenac-treated patients in clinical trials of indications other than acute pain. Of the markers of hepatic function, ALT (SGPT) is recommended for the monitoring of liver injury.
In clinical trials of an oral diclofenac-misoprostol combination product, meaningful elevations (i.e., more than 3 times the ULN) of AST (SGOT) occurred in about 2% of approximately 5,700 patients at some time during diclofenac treatment (ALT was not measured in all studies).
In an open-label, controlled trial of 3,700 patients treated for 2 to 6 months, patients with oral diclofenac were monitored first at 8 weeks and 1,200 patients were monitored again at 24 weeks. Meaningful elevations of ALT and/or AST occurred in about 4% of the 3,700 patients and included marked elevations ( > 8 times the ULN) in about 1% of the 3,700 patients. In this open-label study, a higher incidence of borderline (less than 3 times the ULN), moderate (3 to 8 times the ULN), and marked ( > 8 times the ULN) elevations of ALT or AST was observed in patients receiving diclofenac when compared to other NSAIDs. Elevations in transaminases were seen more frequently in patients with osteoarthritis than in those with rheumatoid arthritis. Almost all meaningful elevations in transaminases were detected before patients became symptomatic.
Abnormal tests occurred during the first 2 months of therapy with oral diclofenac in 42 of the 51 patients in all trials who developed marked transaminase elevations. In postmarketing reports, cases of drug-induced hepatotoxicity have been reported in the first month, and in some cases, the first 2 months of NSAID therapy.
Postmarketing surveillance has reported cases of severe hepatic reactions, including liver necrosis, jaundice, fulminant hepatitis with and without jaundice, and liver failure. Some of these reported cases resulted in fatalities or liver transplantation.
In a European retrospective population-based, case-controlled study, 10 cases of oral diclofenac associated drug-induced liver injury with current use compared with non-use of diclofenac were associated with a statistically significant 4-fold adjusted odds ratio of liver injury. In this particular study, based on an overall number of 10 cases of liver injury associated with diclofenac, the adjusted odds ratio increased further with female gender, doses of 150 mg or more, and duration of use for more than 90 days.
Measure transaminases (ALT and AST) periodically in patients receiving long-term therapy with diclofenac, because severe hepatotoxicity may develop without a prodrome of distinguishing symptoms. The optimum times for making the first and subsequent transaminase measurements are not known. Based on clinical trial data and postmarketing experiences, monitor transaminases within 4 to 8 weeks after initiating treatment with diclofenac. However, severe hepatic reactions can occur at any time during treatment with diclofenac. If abnormal liver tests persist or worsen, if clinical signs and/or symptoms consistent with liver disease develop, or if systemic manifestations occur (e.g., eosinophilia, rash, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine, etc.), discontinue PENNSAID immediately.
To minimize the possibility that hepatic injury will become severe between transaminase measurements, inform patients of the warning signs and symptoms of hepatotoxicity (e.g., nausea, fatigue, lethargy, diarrhea, pruritus, jaundice, right upper quadrant tenderness, and “flu-like” symptoms), and the appropriate action to take if these signs and symptoms appear.
To minimize the potential risk for an adverse liver-related event in patients treated with PENNSAID , use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration possible. When prescribing PENNSAID with concomitant drugs that are known to be potentially hepatotoxic (e.g., acetaminophen, certain antibiotics, antiepileptics), monitor patients for signs of hepatic injury. Instruct patients to avoid taking unprescribed acetaminophen while using PENNSAID.
NSAIDs, including diclofenac, can lead to new onset or worsening of preexisting hypertension, either of which may contribute to the increased incidence of CV events. When prescribing PENNSAID for patients with hypertension, monitor blood pressure (BP) closely, especially during the initiation of NSAID treatment as well as throughout the course of therapy.
Patients taking ACE-inhibitors, thiazides or loop diuretics may have impaired response to these therapies when taking NSAIDs.
Congestive Heart Failure And Edema
Fluid retention and edema have been observed in some patients treated with NSAIDs, including PENNSAID. When prescribing PENNSAID for patients with fluid retention or heart failure, monitor their fluid status and cardiac function closely.
Patients with considerable dehydration are at greater risk for renal injury when exposed to NSAIDs. Monitor renal function closely and consider correcting fluid status prior to initiating treatment with PENNSAID.
Long-term administration of NSAIDs has resulted in renal papillary necrosis and other renal injury. Renal toxicity has also been seen in patients in whom renal prostaglandins have a compensatory role in the maintenance of renal perfusion. In these patients, administration of an NSAID may cause a dose-dependent reduction in prostaglandin formation and, secondarily, in renal blood flow, which may precipitate overt renal decompensation. Patients at greatest risk of this reaction are those with impaired renal function, heart failure, liver dysfunction, those taking diuretics and ACE-inhibitors, and the elderly. Discontinuation of NSAID therapy is usually followed by recovery to the pretreatment state.
No information is available from controlled clinical studies regarding the use of PENNSAID in patients with advanced renal disease. Therefore, treatment with PENNSAID is not recommended in patients with advanced renal disease. If PENNSAID therapy is initiated, closely monitor the patient's renal function.
As with other NSAIDs, anaphylactoid reactions may occur in patients without prior exposure to PENNSAID. Do not prescribe PENNSAID to patients with the aspirin triad. This symptom complex typically occurs in asthmatic patients who experience rhinitis with or without nasal polyps, or who exhibit severe, potentially fatal bronchospasm after taking aspirin or other NSAIDs [see CONTRAINDICATIONS and Preexisting Asthma]. Seek emergency help in cases where an anaphylactoid reaction occurs.
NSAIDs, including PENNSAID, can cause serious skin adverse events such as exfoliative dermatitis, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which can be fatal. These serious events may occur without warning. Inform patients about the signs and symptoms of serious skin manifestations, and discontinue use of the drug at the first appearance of skin rash or any other signs of hypersensitivity.
PENNSAID should not be used by pregnant or nursing women or those intending to become pregnant.
Patients with asthma may have aspirin-sensitive asthma. The use of aspirin in patients with aspirin-sensitive asthma has been associated with severe bronchospasm, which can be fatal. Since cross-reactivity, including bronchospasm, between aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs has been reported in such aspirin-sensitive patients, do not administer PENNSAID to patients with this form of aspirin sensitivity and with use in patients with preexisting asthma, monitor closely for signs of worsening symptoms.
Instruct patients to avoid exposure to natural or artificial sunlight on treated knee(s) because studies in animals indicated topical diclofenac treatment resulted in an earlier onset of ultraviolet light-induced skin tumors. The potential effects of PENNSAID on skin response to ultraviolet damage in humans are not known.
Avoid contact of PENNSAID with eyes and mucosa. Advise patients that if eye contact occurs, immediately wash out the eye with water or saline and consult a physician if irritation persists for more than an hour.
Oral Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Concomitant use of oral NSAIDs with PENNSAID 1.5% resulted in a higher rate of rectal hemorrhage, more frequent abnormal creatinine, urea and hemoglobin. Therefore, do not use combination therapy with PENNSAID and an oral NSAID unless the benefit outweighs the risk and conduct periodic laboratory evaluations.
PENNSAID cannot be expected to substitute for corticosteroids or to treat corticosteroid insufficiency. Abrupt discontinuation of corticosteroids may lead to exacerbation of corticosteroid-response illness. For patients on prolonged corticosteroid therapy, taper slowly if a decision is made to discontinue corticosteroids.
The pharmacological activity of PENNSAID in reducing inflammation, and possibly fever, may diminish the utility of these diagnostic signs in detecting complications of presumed noninfectious, painful conditions.
Anemia is sometimes seen in patients receiving NSAIDs. This may be due to fluid retention, occult or gross GI blood loss, or an incompletely described effect upon erythropoiesis. Check hemoglobin or hematocrit of patients on PENNSAID if they exhibit any signs or symptoms of anemia or blood loss.
NSAIDs inhibit platelet aggregation and have been shown to prolong bleeding time in some patients. Unlike aspirin, their effect on platelet function is quantitatively less, of shorter duration and reversible. Carefully monitor patients receiving PENNSAID who may be adversely affected by alterations in platelet function, such as those with coagulation disorders or patients receiving anticoagulants.
The effects of PENNSAID 1.5% on platelet function were studied in 10 healthy subjects administered 80 drops four times a day for 7 days. There was no significant change in platelet aggregation following one week of treatment.
Because serious GI tract ulcerations and bleeding can occur without warning symptoms in patients taking NSAIDs, monitor patients for signs or symptoms of GI bleeding. Check CBC and a chemistry profile periodically in patients on long-term treatment with NSAIDs. Discontinue PENNSAID if abnormal liver tests or renal tests persist or worsen.
Patient Counseling Information
See FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide and Instructions for Use)
Inform patients of the following information before initiating therapy with an NSAID and periodically during the course of ongoing therapy. Encourage patients to read the NSAID Medication Guide that accompanies each prescription dispensed prior to using PENNSAID [see Medication Guide]. Also instruct patient/caregiver to read the Patient Instructions for Use.
PENNSAID, like other NSAIDs, may cause serious CV side effects, such as MI or stroke, which may result in hospitalization and even death. Although serious CV events can occur without warning symptoms, instruct patients to be alert for the signs and symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, slurring of speech, and to ask for medical advice when observing any indicative sign or symptoms. Inform patients of the importance of this follow-up [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
PENNSAID, like other NSAIDs, may cause GI discomfort and, rarely, serious GI side effects, such as ulcers and bleeding, which may result in hospitalization and even death. Although serious GI tract ulcerations and bleeding can occur without warning symptoms, inform patients to be alert for the signs and symptoms of ulceration and bleeding, and to ask for medical advice when observing any indicative sign or symptoms including epigastric pain, dyspepsia, melena, and hematemesis. Instruct patients of the importance of this follow-up [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Inform patients of the warning signs and symptoms of hepatotoxicity (e.g., nausea, fatigue, lethargy, pruritus, jaundice, right upper quadrant tenderness, and “flu-like” symptoms). If these occur, instruct patients to stop therapy with PENNSAID and seek immediate medical therapy [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Adverse Skin Reactions
PENNSAID, like other NSAIDs, can cause serious systemic skin side effects such as exfoliative dermatitis, SJS, and TEN, which may result in hospitalizations and even death. Although serious systemic skin reactions may occur without warning, instruct patients to be alert for the signs and symptoms of skin rash and blisters, fever, or other signs of hypersensitivity such as itching, and to ask for medical advice when observing any indicative signs or symptoms [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Advise patients to stop PENNSAID immediately if they develop any type of generalized rash and contact their physicians as soon as possible.
PENNSAID can cause a localized skin reaction at the application site. Advise patients to contact their physicians as soon as possible if they develop any type of localized application site rash.
Instruct patients not to apply PENNSAID to open skin wounds, infections, inflammations, or exfoliative dermatitis, as it may affect absorption and reduce tolerability of the drug.
Instruct patients to wait until the area treated with PENNSAID is completely dry before applying sunscreen, insect repellant, lotion, moisturizer, cosmetics, or other topical medication.
Instruct patients to minimize or avoid exposure of treated knee(s) to natural or artificial sunlight.
Weight Gain And Edema
Instruct patients to promptly report to their physician signs or symptoms of unexplained weight gain or edema following treatment with PENNSAID [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Inform patients of the signs of an anaphylactoid reaction (e.g., difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat). If these occur, instruct patients to seek immediate emergency help [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Effects During Pregnancy
Instruct patients who are pregnant or intending to become pregnant not to use PENNSAID [see Use In Specific Populations and Impairment of Fertility].
Instruct patients to avoid contact of PENNSAID with the eyes and mucosa. Advise patients that if eye contact occurs, immediately wash out the eye with water or saline and consult a physician if irritation persists for more than an hour.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
Carcinogenicity studies in mice and rats administered diclofenac sodium as a dietary constituent for 2 years resulted in no significant increases in tumor incidence at doses up to 2 mg/kg/day corresponding to approximately 0.85-and 1.7-fold (mouse and rat, respectively) of the maximum recommended human topical dose of PENNSAID (based on apparent bioavailability and body surface area comparison).
In a dermal carcinogenicity study conducted in albino mice, daily topical applications of diclofenac sodium for two years at concentrations up to 0.035% diclofenac sodium (a 57-fold lower diclofenac sodium concentration than present in PENNSAID) did not increase neoplasm incidence.
In a photococarcinogenicity study conducted in hairless mice, topical application of diclofenac sodium at doses up to 0.035% diclofenac sodium (a 57-fold lower diclofenac sodium concentration than present in PENNSAID) resulted in an earlier median time of onset of tumors.
Diclofenac was not mutagenic or clastogenic in a battery of genotoxicity tests that included the bacterial reverse mutation assay, in vitro mouse lymphoma point mutation assay, chromosomal aberration studies in Chinese hamster ovarian cells in vitro, and in vivo rat chromosomal aberration assay of bone marrow cells.
Impairment of Fertility
Fertility studies have not been conducted with PENNSAID. Diclofenac sodium administered to male and female rats at doses up to 4 mg/kg/day (3.4-fold of the MRHD of PENNSAID based on apparent bioavailability and body surface area comparison) did not affect fertility. Studies conducted in rats found no effect of dermally applied DMSO on fertility, reproductive performance, or offspring performance.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category C prior to 30 weeks gestation; Category D starting 30 weeks gestation.
There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of PENNSAID in pregnant women. PENNSAID should not be used by pregnant women as its safe use has not been adequately determined and starting at 30 weeks gestation, diclofenac and other NSAIDs should be avoided by pregnant women as premature closure of the ductus arteriosus in the fetus may occur. Developmental studies in animals demonstrated that diclofenac sodium administration did not produce teratogenicity despite the induction of maternal toxicity and fetal toxicity in mice at doses up to 20 mg/kg/day (0.6-fold the maximum recommended human dose [MRHD] of 162 mg/day based on body surface area comparison), and in rats and rabbits at doses up to 10 mg/kg/day (approximately 0.6-fold and 1.3-fold the MRHD, respectively). Published reproductive and developmental studies of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO, the solvent used in PENNSAID) are equivocal as to potential teratogenicity.
In rats, maternally toxic doses of diclofenac were associated with dystocia, prolonged gestation, reduced fetal weights and growth, and reduced fetal survival.
Labor And Delivery
The effects of PENNSAID on labor and delivery in pregnant women are unknown. In rat studies maternal exposure to diclofenac, as with other NSAID drugs, known to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis, increased the incidence of dystocia, delayed parturition, and decreased offspring survival.
It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk; however, there is a case report in the literature indicating that diclofenac can be detected at low levels in breast milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from PENNSAID, 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.
Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.
Of the 911 patients treated with PENNSAID 1.5% in seven controlled, Phase 3 clinical trials, 444 subjects were 65 years of age and over. There was no age-related difference in the incidence of adverse events. Of the 793 patients treated with PENNSAID 1.5% in one open-labeled safety trial, 334 subjects were 65 years of age and over including 107 subjects 75 and over. There was no difference in the incidence of adverse events with long-term exposure to PENNSAID 1.5% for this elderly population.
When prescribing PENNSAID to elderly patients (65 years and older), monitor renal function since they are more likely to have decreased baseline renal function.
Last reviewed on RxList: 1/30/2014
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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