Acute Critical Illness
Increased mortality in patients with acute critical illness due to complications following open heart surgery, abdominal surgery or multiple accidental trauma, or those with acute respiratory failure has been reported after treatment with pharmacologic amounts of somatropin [see CONTRAINDICATIONS]. The safety of continuing somatropin treatment in patients receiving replacement doses for approved indications who concurrently develop these illnesses has not been established. Therefore, the potential benefit of treatment continuation with somatropin in patients having acute critical illnesses should be weighed against the potential risk.
Prader-Willi Syndrome in Children
There have been reports of fatalities after initiating therapy with somatropin in pediatric patients with Prader-Willi syndrome who had one or more of the following risk factors: severe obesity, history of upper airway obstruction or sleep apnea, or unidentified respiratory infection. Male patients with one or more of these factors may be at greater risk than females. Patients with Prader-Willi syndrome should be evaluated for signs of upper airway obstruction and sleep apnea before initiation of treatment with somatropin. If, during treatment with somatropin, patients show signs of upper airway obstruction (including onset of or increased snoring) and/or new onset sleep apnea, treatment should be interrupted. All patients with Prader-Willi syndrome treated with somatropin should also have effective weight control and be monitored for signs of respiratory infection, which should be diagnosed as early as possible and treated aggressively [see CONTRAINDICATIONS]. Saizen® is not indicated for the long term treatment of pediatric patients who have growth failure due to genetically confirmed Prader-Willi syndrome.
Patients with preexisting tumors or growth hormone deficiency secondary to an intracranial lesion should be examined routinely for progression or recurrence of the underlying disease process. In pediatric patients, clinical literature has revealed no relationship between somatropin replacement therapy and central nervous system (CNS) tumor recurrence or new extracranial tumors. However, in childhood cancer survivors, an increased risk of a second neoplasm has been reported in patients treated with somatropin after their first neoplasm. Intracranial tumors, in particular meningiomas, in patients treated with radiation to the head for their first neoplasm, were the most common of these second neoplasms. In adults, it is unknown whether there is any relationship between somatropin replacement therapy and CNS tumor recurrence.
Patients should be monitored carefully for any malignant transformation of skin lesions.
Glucose Intolerance/Diabetes Mellitus
Treatment with somatropin may decrease insulin sensitivity, particularly at higher doses in susceptible patients. As a result, previously undiagnosed impaired glucose tolerance and overt diabetes mellitus may be unmasked during somatropin treatment and new onset type 2 diabetes mellitus has been reported in patients. Therefore, glucose levels should be monitored periodically in all patients treated with somatropin, especially in those with risk factors for diabetes mellitus, such as obesity, Turner syndrome, or a family history of diabetes mellitus. Patients with preexisting type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus or impaired glucose tolerance should be monitored closely during somatropin therapy. The doses of antihyperglycemic drugs (i.e., insulin or oral agents) may require adjustment when somatropin therapy is instituted in these patients.
Intracranial hypertension (IH) with papilledema, visual changes, headache, nausea, and/or vomiting has been reported in a small number of patients treated with somatropin products. Symptoms usually occurred within the first eight (8) weeks after the initiation of somatropin therapy. In all reported cases, IH-associated signs and symptoms rapidly resolved after cessation of therapy or a reduction of the somatropin dose. Funduscopic examination should be performed routinely before initiating treatment with somatropin to exclude preexisting papilledema, and periodically during the course of somatropin therapy. If papilledema is observed by funduscopy during somatropin treatment, treatment should be stopped. If somatropin-induced IH is diagnosed, treatment with somatropin can be restarted at a lower dose after IH-associated signs and symptoms have resolved. Patients with Turner syndrome, chronic renal insufficiency, and Prader-Willi syndrome may be at increased risk for the development of IH.
Fluid retention during somatropin replacement therapy in adults may occur. Clinical manifestations of fluid retention are usually transient and dose dependent.
Undiagnosed/untreated hypothyroidism may prevent an optimal response to somatropin, in particular, the growth response in children. Patients with Turner syndrome have an inherently increased risk of developing autoimmune thyroid disease and primary hypothyroidism. In patients with growth hormone deficiency, central (secondary) hypothyroidism may first become evident or worsen during somatropin treatment. Therefore, patients treated with somatropin should have periodic thyroid function tests and thyroid hormone replacement therapy should be initiated or appropriately adjusted when indicated.
Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis in Pediatric Patients
Slipped capital femoral epiphysis may occur more frequently in patients with endocrine disorders (including pediatric growth hormone deficiency and Turner syndrome) or in patients undergoing rapid growth. Any pediatric patient with the onset of a limp or complaints of hip or knee pain during somatropin therapy should be carefully evaluated.
Progression of Preexisting Scoliosis in Pediatric Patients
Progression of scoliosis can occur in patients who experience rapid growth. Because somatropin increases growth rate, patients with a history of scoliosis who are treated with somatropin should be monitored for progression of scoliosis. However, somatropin has not been shown to increase the occurrence of scoliosis. Skeletal abnormalities including scoliosis are commonly seen in untreated Turner syndrome patients. Scoliosis is also commonly seen in untreated patients with Prader-Willi syndrome. Physicians should be alert to these abnormalities, which may manifest during somatropin therapy.
Reevaluation of Childhood Onset Adult GHD
Patients with epiphyseal closure who were treated with somatropin replacement therapy in childhood should be reevaluated according to the criteria in INDICATIONS AND USAGE before continuation of somatropin therapy at the reduced dose level recommended for growth hormone deficient adults. Experience with prolonged treatment in adults is limited.
Local and Systemic Reaction
When somatropin is administered subcutaneously at the same site over a long period of time, tissue atrophy may result. This can be avoided by rotating the injection site. As for any protein, local or systemic allergic reactions may occur. Parents/Patient should be informed that such reactions are possible and that prompt medical attention should be sought if allergic reactions occur.
Patients with hypopituitarism (multiple hormone deficiencies) should have their other hormonal replacement therapy closely monitored during somatropin treatment.
Cases of pancreatitis have been reported rarely in children and adults receiving somatropin treatment, with some evidence supporting a greater risk in children compared with adults. Published literature indicates that girls who have Turner syndrome may be at greater risk than other somatropin-treated children. Pancreatitis should be considered in any somatropin–treated patient, especially a child, who develops persistent severe abdominal pain.
Benzyl alcohol, a component of this product, has been associated with serious adverse events and death, particularly in pediatric patients. The “gasping syndrome,” (characterized by central nervous system depression, metabolic acidosis, gasping respirations, and high levels of benzyl alcohol and its metabolites found in the blood and urine) has been associated with benzyl alcohol dosages >99 mg/kg/day in neonates and low-birth weight neonates. Additional symptoms may include gradual neurological deterioration, seizures, intracranial hemorrhage, hematologic abnormalities, skin breakdown, hepatic and renal failure, hypotension, bradycardia, and cardiovascular collapse. Practitioners administering this and other medications containing benzyl alcohol should consider the combined daily metabolic load of benzyl alcohol from all sources.
Patient Counseling Information
Patients being treated with Saizen® (and/or their parents) should be informed about the potential benefits and risks associated with Saizen® treatment. This information is intended to better educate patients (and caregivers); it is not a disclosure of all possible adverse or intended effects.
Patients and caregivers who will administer Saizen® should receive appropriate training and instruction on the proper use of Saizen® from the physician or other suitably qualified health care professional. A puncture-resistant container for the disposal of used syringes and needles should be strongly recommended. Patients and/or parents should be thoroughly instructed in the importance of proper disposal, and cautioned against any reuse of needles and syringes. This information is intended to aid in the safe and effective administration of the medication.
To reconstitute Saizen®, inject the diluent into the vial of Saizen® aiming the liquid against the glass vial wall. Swirl the vial with a GENTLE rotary motion until contents are dissolved completely. DO NOT SHAKE. Parenteral drug products should always be inspected visually for particulate matter and discoloration prior to administration, whenever solution and container permit. SAIZEN MUST NOT BE INJECTED if the solution is cloudy or contains particulate matter. Use it only if it is clear and colorless.
Never Share a Saizen® Needle Between Patients
Counsel patients that they should never share a Saizen® needle with another person, even if the needle is changed. Sharing of the pen between patients may pose a risk of transmission of infection.
For drug preparation instructions for Saizen® click.easy® cartridges, please refer to the instructions for use provided with click.easy® reconstitution device.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Long-term animal studies for carcinogenicity have not been performed with Saizen®. There is no evidence from animal studies to date of Saizen®-induced mutagenicity or impairment of fertility.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category B. Reproduction studies have been performed in rats and rabbits at doses up to 31 and 62 times, respectively, the human (child) weekly dose based on body surface area. The results have revealed no evidence of impaired fertility or harm to the fetus due to Saizen®. There are, however, no adequate and well controlled studies in pregnant women. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, this drug should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.
It is not known whether Saizen® is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when Saizen® is administered to a nursing woman.
The safety and effectiveness of Saizen® in patients aged 65 and over has not been evaluated in clinical studies. Elderly patients may be more sensitive to the action of Saizen®, and therefore may be more prone to develop adverse reactions. A lower starting dose and smaller dose increments should be considered for older patients [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
A reduction in somatropin clearance has been noted in patients with hepatic dysfunction as compared with normal controls. However, no studies have been conducted for Saizen® in patients with hepatic impairment [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
Subjects with chronic renal failure tend to have decreased clearance of somatropin compared to those with normal renal function. However, no studies have been conducted for Saizen® in patients with renal impairment [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
In adults, the clearance of somatropin in both men and women tends to be similar. No gender studies have been performed in children.
Last reviewed on RxList: 4/16/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Additional Saizen Information
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