July 24, 2016
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"Analysis of three biomarkers in the urine of kidney transplant recipients can diagnose — and even predict — transplant rejection, according to results from a clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infect"...





Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


Management of Immunosuppression

Only physicians experienced in immunosuppressive therapy and management of organ transplant patients should use Prograf. Patients receiving the drug should be managed in facilities equipped and staffed with adequate laboratory and supportive medical resources. The physicians responsible for maintenance therapy should have complete information requisite for the follow up of the patient [see BOX WARNING].

Lymphoma and Other Malignancies

Patients receiving immunosuppressants, including Prograf, are at increased risk of developing lymphomas and other malignancies, particularly of the skin [see BOX WARNING]. The risk appears to be related to the intensity and duration of immunosuppression rather than to the use of any specific agent.

As usual for patients with increased risk for skin cancer, exposure to sunlight and UV light should be limited by wearing protective clothing and using a sunscreen with a high protection factor.

Post transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) has been reported in immunosuppressed organ transplant recipients. The majority of PTLD events appear related to Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) infection. The risk of PTLD appears greatest in those individuals who are EBV seronegative, a population which includes many young children.

Serious Infections

Patients receiving immunosuppressants, including Prograf, are at increased risk of developing bacterial, viral, fungal, and protozoal infections, including opportunistic infections [see BOX WARNING]. These infections may lead to serious, including fatal, outcomes. Because of the danger of oversuppression of the immune system which can increase susceptibility to infection, combination immunosuppressant therapy should be used with caution.

Polyoma Virus Infections

Patients receiving immunosuppressants, including Prograf, are at increased risk for opportunistic infections, including polyoma virus infections. Polyoma virus infections in transplant patients may have serious, and sometimes fatal, outcomes. These include polyoma virus-associated nephropathy (PVAN), mostly due to BK virus infection, and JC virus-associated progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) which have been observed in patients receiving tacrolimus [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

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.

Cases of PML have been reported in patients treated with Prograf. PML, which is sometimes fatal, commonly presents with hemiparesis, apathy, confusion, cognitive deficiencies and ataxia. Risk factors for PML include treatment with immunosuppressant therapies and impairment of immune function. In immunosuppressed patients, physicians should consider PML in the differential diagnosis in patients reporting neurological symptoms and consultation with a neurologist should be considered as clinically indicated.

Reductions in immunosuppression should be considered for patients who develop evidence of PVAN or PML. Physicians should also consider the risk that reduced immunosuppression represents to the functioning allograft.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Infections

Patients receiving immunosuppressants, including Prograf, are at increased risk of developing CMV viremia and CMV disease. The risk of CMV disease is highest among transplant recipients seronegative for CMV at time of transplant who receive a graft from a CMV seropositive donor. Therapeutic approaches to limiting CMV disease exist and should be routinely provided. Patient monitoring may help detect patients at risk for CMV disease. Consideration should be given to reducing the amount of immunosuppression in patients who develop CMV viremia and/or CMV disease.

New Onset Diabetes After Transplant

Prograf was shown to cause new onset diabetes mellitus in clinical trials of kidney, liver, and heart transplantation . New onset diabetes after transplantation may be reversible in some patients. Black and Hispanic kidney transplant patients are at an increased risk. Blood glucose concentrations should be monitored closely in patients using Prograf [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].


Prograf, like other calcineurin-inhibitors, can cause acute or chronic nephrotoxicity, particularly when used in high doses. Acute nephrotoxicity is most often related to vasoconstriction of the afferent renal arteriole, is characterized by increasing serum creatinine, hyperkalemia, and/or a decrease in urine output, and is typically reversible. Chronic calcineurininhibitor nephrotoxicity is associated with increased serum creatinine, decreased kidney graft life, and characteristic histologic changes observed on renal biopsy; the changes associated with chronic calcineurin-inhibitor nephrotoxicity are typically progressive. Patients with impaired renal function should be monitored closely as the dosage of Prograf may need to be reduced. In patients with persistent elevations of serum creatinine who are unresponsive to dosage adjustments, consideration should be given to changing to another immunosuppressive therapy.

Based on reported adverse reactions terms related to decreased renal function, nephrotoxicity was reported in approximately 52% of kidney transplantation patients and in 40% and 36% of liver transplantation patients receiving Prograf in the U.S. and European randomized trials, respectively, and in 59% of heart transplantation patients in a European randomized trial [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Due to the potential for additive or synergistic impairment of renal function, care should be taken when administering Prograf with drugs that may be associated with renal dysfunction. These include, but are not limited to, aminoglycosides, ganciclovir, amphotericin B, cisplatin, nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (e.g., tenofovir) and protease inhibitors (e.g., ritonavir, indinavir). Similarly, care should be exercised when administering with CYP3A4 inhibitors such as antifungal drugs (e.g., ketoconazole), calcium channel blockers (e.g., diltiazem, verapamil), and macrolide antibiotics (e.g., clarithromycin, erythromycin, troleandomycin) which will result in increased tacrolimus whole blood concentrations due to inhibition of tacrolimus metabolism [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].


Prograf may cause a spectrum of neurotoxicities, particularly when used in high doses. The most severe neurotoxicities include posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES), delirium, and coma. Patients treated with tacrolimus have been reported to develop PRES. Symptoms indicating PRES include headache, altered mental status, seizures, visual disturbances and hypertension. Diagnosis may be confirmed by radiological procedure. If PRES is suspected or diagnosed, blood pressure control should be maintained and immediate reduction of immunosuppression is advised. This syndrome is characterized by reversal of symptoms upon reduction or discontinuation of immunosuppression.

Coma and delirium, in the absence of PRES, have also been associated with high plasma concentrations of tacrolimus. Seizures have occurred in adult and pediatric patients receiving Prograf [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Less severe neurotoxicities, include tremors, parathesias, headache, and other changes in motor function, mental status, and sensory function [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Tremor and headache have been associated with high whole-blood concentrations of tacrolimus and may respond to dosage adjustment.


Hyperkalemia has been reported with Prograf use. Serum potassium levels should be monitored. Careful consideration should be given prior to use of other agents also associated with hyperkalemia (e.g., potassium-sparing diuretics, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers) during Prograf therapy[see ADVERSE REACTIONS].


Hypertension is a common adverse effect of Prograf therapy and may require antihypertensive therapy [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. The control of blood pressure can be accomplished with any of the common antihypertensive agents, though careful consideration should be given prior to use of antihypertensive agents associated with hyperkalemia (e.g., potassium-sparing diuretics, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers). Calcium-channel blocking agents may increase tacrolimus blood concentrations and therefore require dosage reduction of Prograf [see DRUG INTERACTIONS

Anaphylactic Reactions with Prograf Injection

Anaphylactic reactions have occurred with injectables containing castor oil derivatives, including Prograf, in a small percentage of patients (0.6%). The exact cause of these reactions is not known. Prograf injection should be reserved for patients who are unable to take Prograf capsules [see INDICATIONS AND USAGE].

Patients receiving Prograf injection should be under continuous observation for at least the first 30 minutes following the start of the infusion and at frequent intervals thereafter. If signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis occur, the infusion should be stopped. An aqueous solution of epinephrine should be available at the bedside as well as a source of oxygen.

Use with Sirolimus

The safety and efficacy of Prograf with sirolimus has not been established in kidney transplant patients.

Use of sirolimus with Prograf in studies of de novo liver transplant patients was associated with an excess mortality, graft loss, and hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT) and is not recommended [see INDICATIONS AND USAGE]. Use of sirolimus (2 mg per day) with Prograf in heart transplant patients in a U.S. trial was associated with increased risk of renal function impairment, wound healing complications, and insulin-dependent post-transplant diabetes mellitus, and is not recommended [see Clinical Studies].

Use with CYP3A4 Inhibitors and Inducers

When coadministering Prograf with strong CYP3A4-inhibitors (e.g., telaprevir, boceprevir, ritonavir, ketoconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole, clarithromycin) and strong inducers (e.g., rifampin, rifabutin) adjustments in the dosing regimen of Prograf and subsequent frequent monitoring of tacrolimus whole blood trough concentrations and tacrolimusassociated adverse reactions are recommended [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

QT Prolongation

Prograf may prolong the QT/QTc interval and may cause Torsade de Pointes. Avoid Prograf in patients with congenital long QT syndrome. In patients with congestive heart failure, bradyarrhythmias, those taking certain antiarrhythmic medications or other medicinal products that lead to QT prolongation, and those with electrolyte disturbances such as hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, or hypomagnesemia, consider obtaining electrocardiograms and monitoring electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, calcium) periodically during treatment.

When coadministering Prograf with other substrates and/or inhibitors of CYP3A4 that also have the potential to prolong the QT interval, a reduction in Prograf dose, frequent monitoring of tacrolimus whole blood concentrations, and monitoring for QT prolongation is recommended. Use of Prograf with amiodarone has been reported to result in increased tacrolimus whole blood concentrations with or without concurrent QT prolongation [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Myocardial Hypertrophy

Myocardial hypertrophy has been reported in infants, children, and adults, particularly those with high tacrolimus trough concentrations, and is generally manifested by echocardiographically demonstrated concentric increases in left ventricular posterior wall and interventricular septum thickness. This condition appears reversible in most cases following dose reduction or discontinuance of therapy. In patients who develop renal failure or clinical manifestations of ventricular dysfunction while receiving Prograf therapy, echocardiographic evaluation should be considered. If myocardial hypertrophy is diagnosed, dosage reduction or discontinuation of Prograf should be considered [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].


The use of live vaccines should be avoided during treatment with tacrolimus; examples include (not limited to) the following: intranasal influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, oral polio, BCG, yellow fever, varicella, and TY21a typhoid vaccines.

Pure Red Cell Aplasia

Cases of pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) have been reported in patients treated with tacrolimus. A mechanism for tacrolimus-induced PRCA has not been elucidated. All patients reported risk factors for PRCA such as parvovirus B19 infection, underlying disease, or concomitant medications associated with PRCA. If PRCA is diagnosed, discontinuation of Prograf should be considered [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Gastrointestinal Perforation

Gastrointestinal perforation has been reported in patients treated with Prograf; all reported cases were considered to be a complication of transplant surgery or accompanied by infection, diverticulum, or malignant neoplasm. As gastrointestinal perforation may be serious or life-threatening, appropriate medical/surgical management should be instituted promptly [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Patient Counseling Information


Advise patients to:

  • Take Prograf at the same 12-hour intervals everyday to achieve consistent blood concentrations.
  • Take Prograf consistently either with or without food because the presence and composition of food decreases the bioavailability of Prograf.
  • Not to eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice in combination with Prograf [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Development of Lymphoma and Other Malignancies

Inform patients they are at increased risk of developing lymphomas and other malignancies, particularly of the skin, due to immunosuppression. Advise patients to limit exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) light by wearing protective clothing and use a sunscreen with a high protection factor [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Increased Risk of Infection

Inform patients they are at increased risk of developing a variety of infections, including opportunistic infections, due to immunosuppression and to contact their physician if they develop any symptoms of infection [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

New Onset Diabetes After Transplant

Inform patients that Prograf can cause diabetes mellitus and should be advised to contact their physician if they develop frequent urination, increased thirst or hunger [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].


Inform patients that Prograf can have toxic effects on the kidney that should be monitored. Advise patients to attend all visits and complete all blood tests ordered by their medical team [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].


Inform patients that they are at risk of developing adverse neurologic effects including seizure, altered mental status, and tremor. Advise patients to contact their physician should they develop vision changes, deliriums, or tremors [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].


Inform patients that Prograf can cause hyperkalemia. Monitoring of potassium levels may be necessary, especially with concomitant use of other drugs known to cause hyperkalemia [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].


Inform patients that Prograf can cause high blood pressure which may require treatment with anti-hypertensive therapy [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Drug Interactions

Instruct patients to tell their health care providers when they start or stop taking all the medicines, including prescription medicines and non-prescription medicines, natural or herbal remedies, nutritional supplements and vitamins [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Pregnant Women and Nursing Mothers

Instruct patients to tell their healthcare provider if they plan to become pregnant or breast-feed their infant [see Use in Specific Populations]


Inform patients that Prograf can interfere with the usual response to immunizations and that they should avoid live vaccines [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Carcinogenicity studies were conducted in male and female rats and mice. In the 80-week mouse oral study and in the 104-week rat oral study, no relationship of tumor incidence to tacrolimus dosage was found. The highest dose used in the mouse was 3.0 mg/kg/day (0.9 to 2.2 times the AUC at clinical doses of 0.075 to 0.2 mg/kg/day) and in the rat was 5.0 mg/kg/day (0.265 to 0.65 times the AUC at clinical doses of 0.075 to 0.2 mg/kg/day) [see BOXED WARNING and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

A 104-week dermal carcinogenicity study was performed in mice with tacrolimus ointment (0.03% - 3%), equivalent to tacrolimus doses of 1.1-118 mg/kg/day or 3.3-354 mg/m²/day. In the study, the incidence of skin tumors was minimal and the topical application of tacrolimus was not associated with skin tumor formation under ambient room lighting. However, a statistically significant elevation in the incidence of pleomorphic lymphoma in high dose male (25/50) and female animals (27/50) and in the incidence of undifferentiated lymphoma in high dose female animals (13/50) was noted in the mouse dermal carcinogenicity study. Lymphomas were noted in the mouse dermal carcinogenicity study at a daily dose of 3.5 mg/kg (0.1% tacrolimus ointment). No drug-related tumors were noted in the mouse dermal carcinogenicity study at a daily dose of 1.1 mg/kg (0.03% tacrolimus ointment). The relevance of topical administration of tacrolimus in the setting of systemic tacrolimus use is unknown.

The implications of these carcinogenicity studies to the human condition are limited; doses of tacrolimus were administered that likely induced immunosuppression in these animals impairing their immune system's ability to inhibit unrelated carcinogenesis.

No evidence of genotoxicity was seen in bacterial (Salmonella and E. coli) or mammalian (Chinese hamster lung-derived cells) in vitro assays of mutagenicity, the in vitro CHO/HGPRT assay of mutagenicity, or in vivo clastogenicity assays performed in mice; tacrolimus did not cause unscheduled DNA synthesis in rodent hepatocytes.

Tacrolimus given orally at 1.0 mg/kg (0.8 to 2.2 times the clinical dose range of 0.075 to 0.2 mg/kg/day based on body surface area) to male and female rats, prior to and during mating, as well as to dams during gestation and lactation, was associated with embryolethality and adverse effects on female reproduction. Effects on female reproductive function (parturition) and embryolethal effects were indicated by a higher rate of pre-implantation loss and increased numbers of undelivered and nonviable pups. When given at 3.2 mg/kg (2.6 to 6.9 times the clinical dose range based on body surface area), tacrolimus was associated with maternal and paternal toxicity as well as reproductive toxicity including marked adverse effects on estrus cycles, parturition, pup viability, and pup malformations.

Use In Specific Populations


Pregnancy Category C

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Tacrolimus is transferred across the placenta. The use of tacrolimus during pregnancy in humans has been associated with neonatal hyperkalemia and renal dysfunction. Tacrolimus given orally to pregnant rabbits at 0.5 to 4.3 times the clinical dose and pregnant rats at 0.8 to 6.9 times the clinical dose was associated with an increased incidence of fetal death in utero, fetal malformations (cardiovascular, skeletal, omphalocele, and gallbladder agenesis) and maternal toxicity. Prograf should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit to the mother justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

In pregnant rabbits, tacrolimus at oral doses of 0.32 and 1.0 mg/kg, 0.5 to 4.3 times the clinical dose range (0.075 – 0.2 mg/kg) based on body surface area, was associated with maternal toxicity as well as an increased incidence of abortions. At the 1 mg/kg dose, fetal rabbits showed an increased incidence of malformations (ventricular hypoplasia, interventricular septal defect, bulbous aortic arch, stenosis of ductus arteriosis, interrupted ossification of vertebral arch, vertebral and rib malformations, omphalocele, and gallbladder agenesis) and developmental variations. In pregnant rats, tacrolimus at oral doses of 3.2 mg/kg, 2.6 to 6.9 times the clinical dose range was associated with maternal toxicity, an increase in late resorptions, decreased numbers of live births, and decreased pup weight and viability. Tacrolimus, given orally to pregnant rats after organogenesis and during lactation at 1.0 and 3.2 mg/kg, 0.8 to 6.9 times the recommended clinical dose range was associated with reduced pup weights and pup viability (3.2 mg/kg only); among the high dose pups that died early, an increased incidence of kidney hydronephrosis was observed.

Nursing Mothers

Tacrolimus is excreted in human milk. As the effect of chronic exposure to tacrolimus in healthy infants is not established, patients maintained on Prograf should discontinue nursing taking into consideration importance of drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use

The safety and efficacy of Prograf in pediatric kidney and heart transplant patients have not been established. Successful liver transplants have been performed in pediatric patients (ages up to 16 years) using Prograf. Two randomized active-controlled trials of Prograf in primary liver transplantation included 56 pediatric patients. Thirty-one patients were randomized to Prograf-based and 25 to cyclosporine-based therapies. Additionally, a minimum of 122 pediatric patients were studied in an uncontrolled trial of tacrolimus in living related donor liver transplantation. Pediatric patients generally required higher doses of Prograf to maintain blood trough concentrations of tacrolimus similar to adult patients [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

Geriatric Use

Clinical trials of Prograf did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.

Use in Renal Impairment

The pharmacokinetics of Prograf in patients with renal impairment was similar to that in healthy volunteers with normal renal function. However, consideration should be given to dosing Prograf at the lower end of the therapeutic dosing range in patients who have received a liver or heart transplant and have pre-existing renal impairment. Further reductions in dose below the targeted range may be required [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Use in Hepatic Impairment

The mean clearance of tacrolimus was substantially lower in patients with severe hepatic impairment (mean Child-Pugh score: > 10) compared to healthy volunteers with normal hepatic function. Close monitoring of tacrolimus trough concentrations is warranted in patients with hepatic impairment [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

The use of Prograf in liver transplant recipients experiencing post-transplant hepatic impairment may be associated with increased risk of developing renal insufficiency related to high whole-blood trough concentrations of tacrolimus. These patients should be monitored closely and dosage adjustments should be considered. Some evidence suggests that lower doses should be used in these patients [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

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

Last reviewed on RxList: 9/23/2013


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