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Last reviewed on RxList: 9/18/2017
Norditropin Side Effects Center

Last reviewed on RxList 09/18/2017

Norditropin [somatropin (rDNA origin) injection] is a form of human growth hormone used to treat growth failure in children and adults who lack natural growth hormone, and in those with chronic kidney failure, Noonan syndrome, Turner syndrome, short stature at birth with no catch-up growth, and other causes. Norditropin is also used to prevent severe weight loss in people with AIDS, or to treat short bowel syndrome. Common side effects of Norditropin include:

Tell your doctor if you have serious side effects of Norditropin including:

  • development of a limp,
  • persistent fatigue,
  • unusual or unexplained weight gain,
  • persistent cold intolerance,
  • persistent slow heartbeat,
  • fast heartbeat,
  • ear pain or itching,
  • hearing problems,
  • joint/hip/knee pain,
  • numbness or tingling,
  • unusual increase in thirst or urination,
  • swelling hands/ankles/feet,
  • change in the appearance or size of any mole,
  • persistent nausea or vomiting, or
  • severe stomach or abdominal pain.

The Norditropin dosage and administration schedule should be individualized based on the growth response of each patient. Norditropin may interact with insulin or oral diabetes medicine, steroids, cyclosporine, seizure medication, birth control pills, anabolic steroids, or hormone replacement medications for men or women. Tell your doctor all medications you use. Norditropin should be used only when prescribed during pregnancy. It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Our Norditropin [somatropin (rDNA origin) injection] 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.

Norditropin Consumer Information

If you have Prader-Willi syndrome, call your doctor promptly if you develop signs of lung or breathing problems such as shortness of breath, coughing, or new or increased snoring. Rare cases of serious breathing problems have occurred in patients with Prader-Willi syndrome who use somatropin.

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.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate;
  • increased thirst, increased urination, hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, dry skin, blurred vision, and weight loss;
  • sudden and severe pain behind your eyes, vision changes;
  • swelling in your head, face, hands, or feet; or
  • numbness or tingling in your wrist, hand, or fingers.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • headache, feeling tired;
  • redness, soreness, swelling, rash, itching, pain, or bruising where the medicine was injected;
  • pain in your arms or legs, joint stiffness or pain;
  • muscle pain; or
  • cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat.

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 Norditropin (Somatropin Injection)

Norditropin Professional Information


The following important adverse reactions are also described elsewhere in the labeling:

Clinical Trials Experience

Because clinical trials are conducted under varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed during the clinical trials performed with one somatropin formulation cannot always be directly compared to the rates observed during the clinical trials performed with a second somatropin formulation, and may not reflect the adverse reaction rates observed in practice.

Clinical Trials In Children With Noonan Syndrome

Norditropin was studied in a two-year prospective, randomized, parallel dose group trial in 21 children, 3-14 years old, with Noonan syndrome. Doses were 0.033 and 0.066 mg/kg/day. After the initial two-year randomized trial, children continued Norditropin treatment until final height was achieved; randomized dose groups were not maintained. Final height and adverse event data were later collected retrospectively from 18 children; total follow-up was 11 years. An additional 6 children were not randomized, but followed the protocol and are included in this assessment of adverse events.

Based on the mean dose per treatment group, no significant difference in the incidence of adverse events was seen between the two groups. The most frequent adverse events were the common infections of childhood, including upper respiratory infection, gastroenteritis, ear infection, and influenza. Cardiac disorders was the system organ class with the second most adverse events reported. However, congenital heart disease is an inherent component of Noonan syndrome, and there was no evidence of somatropin-induced ventricular hypertrophy or exacerbation of preexisting ventricular hypertrophy (as judged by echocardiography) during this study. Children who had baseline cardiac disease judged to be significant enough to potentially affect growth were excluded from the study; therefore the safety of Norditropin in children with Noonan syndrome and significant cardiac disease is not known. Among children who received 0.033 mg/kg/day, there was one adverse event of scoliosis; among children who received 0.066 mg/kg/day, there were four adverse events of scoliosis [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Mean serum IGF-I standard deviation score (SDS) levels did not exceed +1 in response to somatropin treatment. The mean serum IGF-I level was low at baseline and normalized during treatment.

Clinical Trials In Children With Turner Syndrome

In two clinical studies wherein children with Turner syndrome were treated until final height with various doses of Norditropin as described in Clinical Studies (14.2), the most frequently reported adverse events were common childhood diseases including influenza-like illness, otitis media, upper respiratory tract infection, otitis externa, gastroenteritis and eczema. Otitis media adverse events in Study 1 were most frequent in the highest dose groups (86.4% in the 0.045-0.067-0.089 mg/kg/day group vs. 78.3% in the 0.045-0.067 mg/kg/day group vs. 69.6% in the 0.045 mg/kg/day group) suggesting a possible dose-response relationship. Of note, approximately 40-50% of these otitis media adverse events were designated as “serious” [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. No patients in either study developed clearcut overt diabetes mellitus; however, in Study 1, impaired fasting glucose at Month 48 was more frequent in patients in the 0.045-0.067 mg/kg/day group (n=4/18) compared with the 0.045 mg/kg/day group (n=1/20). Transient episodes of fasting blood sugars between 100 and 126 mg/dL, and, on occasion, exceeding 126 mg/dL also occurred more often with larger doses of Norditropin in both studies [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Three patients withdrew from the 2 high dose groups in Study 1 because of concern about excessive growth of hands or feet. In addition, in Study 1, exacerbation of preexisting scoliosis was designated a serious adverse reaction in two patients in the 0.045 mg/kg/day group [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Clinical Trials In Children Born Small For Gestational Age (SGA) With No Catch-Up Growth By Age 2-4 Years

Study 1 (Long-Term)

In a multi-center, randomized, double-blind study, 53 non-GHD children with short stature born SGA with failure to catch-up were treated with 2 doses of Norditropin (0.033 or 0.067 mg/kg/day) to final height for up to 13 years (mean duration of treatment 7.9 and 9.5 years for girls and boys, respectively). The most frequently reported adverse events were common childhood diseases including influenza-like illness, upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, gastroenteritis, abdominal pain, otitis media, pharyngitis, arthralgia, and headache. Adverse events possibly/probably related to Norditropin were otitis media, arthralgia, headaches (no confirmed diagnoses of benign intracranial hypertension), gynecomastia, and increased sweating. One child treated with 0.067 mg/kg/day for 4 years was reported with disproportionate growth of the lower jaw, and another child treated with 0.067 mg/kg/day developed a melanocytic nevus [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. There were no clear cut reports of exacerbation of preexisting scoliosis or slipped capital femoral epiphysis. No apparent differences between the treatment groups were observed. In addition, the timing of puberty was age-appropriate in boys and girls in both treatment groups. Therefore, it can be concluded that no novel adverse events potentially related to treatment with Norditropin were reported in long-term Study 1.

Study 2 (Short-Term)

In a multi-center, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group study, 98 Japanese non-GHD children with short stature born SGA with failure to catch-up were treated with 2 doses of Norditropin (0.033 or 0.067 mg/kg/day) for 2 years or were untreated for 1 year. The most frequently reported adverse events were common childhood diseases almost identical to those reported above for Study 1. Adverse events possibly/probably related to Norditropin were otitis media, arthralgia and impaired glucose tolerance. No apparent differences between the treatment groups were observed. However, arthralgia and transiently impaired glucose tolerance were only reported in the 0.067 mg/kg/day treatment group. Therefore, it can also be concluded that no novel adverse events potentially related to treatment with rhGH were reported in short-term Study 2.

As with all protein drugs, some patients may develop antibodies to the protein. Eighteen of the 76 children (~24%) treated with Norditropin developed anti-rhGH antibodies. However, these antibodies did not appear to be neutralizing in that the change from baseline in height SDS at Year 2 was similar in antibody positive and antibody negative children by treatment group.

In both Study 1 and Study 2, there were no clear cut cases of new onset diabetes mellitus, no children treated for hyperglycemia, and no adverse event withdrawals due to abnormalities in glucose tolerance. In Study 2, after treatment with either dose of Norditropin for 2 years, there were no children with consecutive fasting blood glucose levels between 100 and 126 mg/dL, or with fasting blood glucose levels > 126 mg/dL. Furthermore, mean hemoglobin A1c levels tended to decrease during long-term treatment in Study 1, and remained normal in Study 2. However, in Study 1, 4 children treated with 0.067 mg/kg/day of Norditropin and 2 children treated with 0.033 mg/kg/day of Norditropin shifted from normal fasting blood glucose levels at baseline to increased levels after 1 year of treatment (100 to 126 mg/dL or > 126 mg/dL). In addition, small increases in mean fasting blood glucose and insulin levels (within the normal reference range) after 1 and 2 years of Norditropin treatment appeared to be dose-dependent [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS].

In both Study 1 and Study 2, there was no acceleration of bone maturation. A dose-dependent increase in mean serum IGF-I SDS levels within the reference range (but including a substantial number of children with serum IGF-1 SDS > +2) was observed after both longterm (Study 1) and short-term (Study 2) Norditropin treatment.

Clinical Trials In Adult GHD Patients

Adverse events with an incidence of ≥5% occurring in patients with AO GHD during the 6 month placebo-controlled portion of the largest of the six adult GHD Norditropin trials are presented in Table 1. Peripheral edema, other types of edema, arthralgia, myalgia, and paraesthesia were common in the Norditropin-treated patients, and reported much more frequently than in the placebo group. These types of adverse events are thought to be related to the fluid accumulating effects of somatropin. In general, these adverse events were mild and transient in nature. During the placebo-controlled portion of this study, approximately 5% of patients without preexisting diabetes mellitus treated with Norditropin were diagnosed with overt type 2 diabetes mellitus compared with none in the placebo group [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Anti-GH antibodies were not detected.

Of note, the doses of Norditropin employed during this study (completed in the mid 1990s) were substantially larger than those currently recommended by the Growth Hormone Research Society, and, more than likely, resulted in a greater than expected incidence of fluid retention-and glucose intolerance-related adverse events. A similar incidence and pattern of adverse events were observed during the other three placebo-controlled AO GHD trials and during the two placebo-controlled CO GHD trials.

Table 1 - Adverse Reactions with ≥5% Overall Incidence in Adult Onset Growth Hormone Deficient Patients Treated with Norditropin During a Six Month Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial

Adverse Reactions n % n %
Peripheral Edema 22 42 4 8
Edema 13 25 0 0
Arthralgia 10 19 8 15
Leg Edema 8 15 2 4
Myalgia 8 15 4 8
Infection (non-viral) 7 13 4 8
Paraesthesia 6 11 3 6
Skeletal Pain 6 11 1 2
Headache 5 9 3 6
Bronchitis 5 9 0 0
Flu-like symptoms 4 8 2 4
Hypertension 4 8 1 2
Gastroenteritis 4 8 4 8
Other Non-Classifiable Disorders (excludes accidental injury) 4 8 3 6
Increased sweating 4 8 1 2
Glucose tolerance abnormal 3 6 1 2
Laryngitis 3 6 3 6
The adverse event pattern observed during the open label phase of the study was similar to the one presented above.

As with all therapeutic proteins, there is potential for immunogenicity. The detection of antibody formation is highly dependent on the sensitivity and specificity of the assay. Additionally, the observed incidence of antibody (including neutralizing antibody) positivity in an assay may be influenced by several factors including assay methodology, sample handling, timing of sample collection, concomitant medications, and underlying disease. For these reasons, comparison of the incidence of antibodies to Norditropin with the incidence of antibodies to other products may be misleading. In the case of growth hormone, antibodies with binding capacities lower than 2 mg/mL have not been associated with growth attenuation. In a very small number of patients treated with somatropin, when binding capacity was greater than 2 mg/mL, interference with the growth response was observed.

In clinical trials, GHD pediatric patients receiving Norditropin for up to 12 months were tested for induction of antibodies, and 0/358 patients developed antibodies with binding capacities above 2 mg/L. Amongst these patients, 165 had previously been treated with other somatropin formulations, and 193 were previously untreated naive patients.

Post-Marketing Experience

Because these adverse events are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure. The adverse events reported during post-marketing surveillance do not differ from those listed/discussed above in Sections 6 and 6.1 in children and adults.

Serious systemic hypersensitivity reactions including anaphylactic reactions and angioedema have been reported with postmarketing use of somatropin products [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Leukemia has been reported in a small number of GH deficient children treated with somatropin, somatrem (methionylated rhGH) and GH of pituitary origin. It is uncertain whether these cases of leukemia are related to GH therapy, the pathology of GHD itself, or other associated treatments such as radiation therapy. On the basis of current evidence, experts have not been able to conclude that GH therapy per se was responsible for these cases of leukemia. The risk for children with GHD, if any, remains to be established [see CONTRAINDICATIONS and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

The following additional adverse reactions have been observed during the appropriate use of somatropin: headaches (children and adults), gynecomastia (children), and pancreatitis (children and adults [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS ).

New-onset type 2 diabetes mellitus has been reported.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Norditropin (Somatropin Injection)

Related Resources for Norditropin

© Norditropin Patient Information is supplied by Cerner Multum, Inc. and Norditropin Consumer information is supplied by First Databank, Inc., used under license and subject to their respective copyrights.

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