Medically reviewed by Oliinyk Elizabeth Ivanovna, PharmD. Last updated on 2020-04-09
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Alefen is indicated for the treatment of the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee(s).
General Dosing Instructions
Use the lowest effective dosage for the shortest duration consistent with individual patient treatment goals.
For relief of the pain of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee(s), the recommended dose is 40 mg of diclofenac sodium (2 pump actuations) on each painful knee, 2 times a day.
Apply Alefen to clean, dry skin.
The pump must be primed before first use. Instruct patients to fully depress the pump mechanism (actuation) 4 times while holding the bottle in an upright position. This portion should be discarded to ensure proper priming of the pump. No further priming of the bottle should be required.
After the priming procedure, Alefen is properly dispensed by completely depressing the pump 2 times to achieve the prescribed dosage for one knee. Deliver the product directly into the palm of the hand and then apply evenly around front, back, and sides of the knee.
Application of Alefen in an amount exceeding or less than the recommended dose has not been studied and is therefore not recommended.
- Avoid showering/bathing for at least 30 minutes after the application of Alefen to the treated knee.
- Wash and dry hands after use.
- Do not apply Alefen to open wounds.
- Avoid contact of Alefen with eyes and mucous membranes.
- Do not apply external heat and/or occlusive dressings to treated knees.
- Avoid wearing clothing over the Alefen-treated knee(s) until the treated knee is dry.
- Protect the treated knee(s) from natural and artificial sunlight.
- Wait until the treated area is dry before applying sunscreen, insect repellant, lotion, moisturizer, cosmetics, or other topical medication to the same knee you have just treated with Alefen.
- Until the treated knee(s) is completely dry, avoid skin-to-skin contact between other people and the treated knee(s).
- Do not use combination therapy with Alefen and an oral NSAID unless the benefit outweighs the risk and conduct periodic laboratory evaluations.
Alefen is contraindicated in the following patients:
- Known hypersensitivity (e.g., anaphylactic reactions and serious skin reactions) to diclofenac or any components of the drug product
- History of asthma, urticaria, or other allergic-type reactions after taking aspirin or other NSAIDs. Severe, sometimes fatal, anaphylactic reactions to NSAIDs have been reported in such patients
- In the setting of coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery
Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.
Cardiovascular Thrombotic Events
Clinical trials of several COX-2 selective and nonselective NSAIDs of up to three years duration have shown an increased risk of serious cardiovascular (CV) thrombotic events, including myocardial infarction (MI), and stroke, which can be fatal. Based on available data, it is unclear that the risk for CV thrombotic events is similar for all NSAIDs. The relative increase in serious CV thrombotic events over baseline conferred by NSAID use appears to be similar in those with and without known CV disease or risk factors for CV disease. However, patients with known CV disease or risk factors had a higher absolute incidence of excess serious CV thrombotic events, due to their increased baseline rate. Some observational studies found that this increased risk of serious CV thrombotic events began as early as the first weeks of treatment. The increase in CV thrombotic risk has been observed most consistently at higher doses.
To minimize the potential risk for an adverse CV event in NSAID-treated patients, use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration possible. Physicians and patients should remain alert for the development of such events, throughout the entire treatment course, even in the absence of previous CV symptoms. Patients should be informed about the symptoms of serious CV events and the steps to take if they occur.
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 an NSAID, such as diclofenac, increases the risk of serious gastrointestinal (GI) events.
Status Post Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery
Two large, controlled, clinical trials of a COX-2 selective NSAID for the treatment of pain in the first 10-14 days following CABG surgery found an increased incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke. NSAIDs are contraindicated in the setting of CABG.
Observational studies conducted in the Danish National Registry have demonstrated that patients treated with NSAIDs in the post-MI period were at increased risk of reinfarction, CV-related death, and all-cause mortality beginning in the first week of treatment. In this same cohort, the incidence of death in the first year post-MI was 20 per 100 person years in NSAID-treated patients compared to 12 per 100 person years in non-NSAID exposed patients. Although the absolute rate of death declined somewhat after the first year post-MI, the increased relative risk of death in NSAID users persisted over at least the next four years of follow-up.
Avoid the use of Alefen in patients with a recent MI unless the benefits are expected to outweigh the risk of recurrent CV thrombotic events. If Alefen is used in patients with a recent MI, monitor patients for signs of cardiac ischemia.
Gastrointestinal Bleeding, Ulceration, And Perforation
NSAIDs, including diclofenac, cause serious gastrointestinal (GI) adverse events including inflammation, bleeding, ulceration, and perforation of the esophagus, 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 occurred in approximately 1% of patients treated for 3-6 months, and in about 2%-4% of patients treated for one year. However, even short-term NSAID therapy is not without risk.
Risk Factors For GI Bleeding, Ulceration, And Perforation
Patients with a prior history of peptic ulcer disease and/or GI bleeding who used NSAIDs had a greater than 10-fold increased risk for developing a GI bleed compared to patients without these risk factors. Other factors that increase the risk of GI bleeding in patients treated with NSAIDs include longer duration of NSAID therapy; concomitant use of oral corticosteroids, aspirin, anticoagulants, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs); smoking; use of alcohol; older age; and poor general health status. Most postmarketing reports of fatal GI events occurred in elderly or debilitated patients. Additionally, patients with advanced liver disease and/or coagulopathy are at increased risk for GI bleeding.
Strategies to Minimize the GI Risks in NSAID-treated patients:
- Use the lowest effective dosage for the shortest possible duration.
- Avoid administration of more than one NSAID at a time.
- Avoid use in patients at higher risk unless benefits are expected to outweigh the increased risk of bleeding. For Â such patients, as well as those with active GI bleeding, consider alternate therapies other than NSAIDs.
- Remain alert for signs and symptoms of GI ulceration and bleeding during NSAID therapy.
- If a serious GI adverse event is suspected, promptly initiate evaluation and treatment, and discontinue Alefen until a serious GI adverse event is ruled out.
- In the setting of concomitant use of low-dose aspirin for cardiac prophylaxis, monitor patients more closely for evidence of GI bleeding.
In clinical trials of oral diclofenac containing products, 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 a large, open-label, controlled trial of 3,700 patients treated with oral diclofenac for 2 - 6 months, patients 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 3,700 patients and included marked elevations (greater than 8 times the ULN) in about 1% of the 3,700 patients. In that open-label study, a higher incidence of borderline (less than 3 times the ULN), moderate (3 to 8 times the ULN), and marked (greater than 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, but can occur at any time during treatment with diclofenac.
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.
Physicians should measure transaminases at baseline and 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, transaminases should be monitored 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.), Alefen should be discontinued immediately.
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). If clinical signs and symptoms consistent with liver disease develop, or if systemic manifestations occur (e.g., eosinophilia, rash, etc.), discontinue Alefen immediately, and perform a clinical evaluation of the patient.
To minimize the potential risk for an adverse liver-related event in patients treated with Alefen, use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration possible. Exercise caution when prescribing Alefen with concomitant drugs that are known to be potentially hepatotoxic (e.g., acetaminophen, antibiotics, antiepileptics).
NSAIDs, including Alefen, can lead to new onset of hypertension or worsening of preexisting hypertension, either of which may contribute to the increased incidence of CV events. Patients taking angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, thiazide diuretics, or loop diuretics may have impaired response to these therapies when taking NSAIDs.
Monitor blood pressure (BP) during the initiation of NSAID treatment and throughout the course of therapy.
Heart Failure And Edema
The Coxib and traditional NSAID Trialists' Collaboration meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials demonstrated an approximately two-fold increase in hospitalizations for heart failure in COX-2 selective treated patients and nonselective NSAID-treated patients compared to placebo-treated patients. In a Danish National Registry study of patients with heart failure, NSAID use increased the risk of MI, hospitalization for heart failure, and death.
Additionally, fluid retention and edema have been observed in some patients treated with NSAIDs. Use of diclofenac may blunt the CV effects of several therapeutic agents used to treat these medical conditions (e.g., diuretics, ACE inhibitors, or angiotensin receptor blockers [ARBs]).
Avoid the use of Alefen in patients with severe heart failure unless the benefits are expected to outweigh the risk of worsening heart failure. If Alefen is used in patients with severe heart failure, monitor patients for signs of worsening heart failure.
Renal Toxicity And Hyperkalemia
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, dehydration, hypovolemia, heart failure, liver dysfunction, those taking diuretics and ACE-inhibitors or ARBs, 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 Alefen in patients with advanced renal disease. The renal effects of Alefen may hasten the progression of renal dysfunction in patients with preexisting renal disease.
Correct volume status in dehydrated or hypovolemic patients prior to initiating Alefen. Monitor renal function in patients with renal or hepatic impairment, heart failure, dehydration, or hypovolemia during use of Alefen. Avoid the use of Alefen in patients with advanced renal disease unless the benefits are expected to outweigh the risk of worsening renal function. If Alefen is used in patients with advanced renal disease, monitor patients for signs of worsening renal function.
Increases in serum potassium concentration, including hyperkalemia, have been reported with use of NSAIDs, even in some patients without renal impairment. In patients with normal renal function, these effects have been attributed to a hyporeninemic-hypoaldosteronism state.
Diclofenac has been associated with anaphylactic reactions in patients with and without known hypersensitivity to diclofenac and in patients with aspirin-sensitive asthma.
Seek emergency help if an anaphylactic reaction occurs.
Exacerbation Of Asthma Related To Aspirin Sensitivity
A subpopulation of patients with asthma may have aspirin-sensitive asthma which may include chronic rhinosinusitis complicated by nasal polyps; severe, potentially fatal bronchospasm; and/or intolerance to aspirin and other NSAIDs. Because cross-reactivity between aspirin and other NSAIDs has been reported in such aspirin-sensitive patients, Alefen is contraindicated in patients with this form of aspirin sensitivity. When Alefen is used in patients with preexisting asthma (without known aspirin sensitivity), monitor patients for changes in the signs and symptoms of asthma.
Serious Skin Reactions
NSAIDs, including diclofenac, can cause serious skin adverse reactions 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 reactions, and to discontinue the use of Alefen at the first appearance of skin rash or any other sign of hypersensitivity. Alefen is contraindicated in patients with previous serious skin reactions to NSAIDs.
Do not apply Alefen to open skin wounds, infections, inflammations, or exfoliative dermatitis, as it may affect absorption and tolerability of the drug.
Premature Closure Of Fetal Ductus Arteriosus
Diclofenac may cause premature closure of the fetal ductus arteriosus. Avoid use of NSAIDs, including Alefen, in pregnant women starting at 30 weeks of gestation (third trimester).
Anemia has occurred in NSAID-treated patients. This may be due to occult or gross blood loss, fluid retention, or an incompletely described effect on erythropoiesis. If a patient treated with Alefen has any signs or symptoms of anemia, monitor hemoglobin or hematocrit.
NSAIDs, including Alefen, may increase the risk of bleeding events. Co-morbid conditions such as coagulation disorders or concomitant use of warfarin, other anticoagulants, antiplatelet agents (e.g., aspirin), serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may increase this risk. Monitor these patients for signs of bleeding.
Masking Of Inflammation And Fever
The pharmacological activity of Alefen in reducing inflammation, and possibly fever, may diminish the utility of diagnostic signs in detecting infections.
Because serious GI bleeding, hepatotoxicity, and renal injury can occur without warning symptoms or signs, consider monitoring patients on long-term NSAID treatment with a CBC and a chemistry profile periodically.
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 Alefen on skin response to ultraviolet damage in humans are not known.
Avoid contact of Alefen 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 Alefen 1.5% resulted in a higher rate of rectal hemorrhage, more frequent abnormal creatinine, urea and hemoglobin. Therefore, do not use combination therapy with Alefen and an oral NSAID unless the benefit outweighs the risk and conduct periodic laboratory evaluations.
Patient Counseling Information
Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide) that accompanies each prescription dispensed. Inform patients, families, or their caregivers of the following information before initiating therapy with Alefen and periodically during the course of ongoing therapy.
Cardiovascular Thrombotic Events
Advise patients to be alert for the symptoms of cardiovascular thrombotic events, including chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, or slurring of speech, and to report any of these symptoms to their health care provider immediately.
Gastrointestinal Bleeding, Ulceration, And Perforation
Advise patients to report symptoms of ulceration and bleeding, including epigastric pain, dyspepsia, melena, and hematemesis to their health care provider. In the setting of concomitant use of low-dose aspirin for cardiac prophylaxis, inform patients of the increased risk for and the signs and symptoms of GI bleeding.
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 Alefen and seek immediate medical therapy.
Heart Failure And Edema
Advise patients to be alert for the symptoms of congestive heart failure including shortness of breath, unexplained weight gain, or edema and to contact their healthcare provider if such symptoms occur.
Inform patients of the signs of an anaphylactic reaction (e.g., difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat). Instruct patients to seek immediate emergency help if these occur.
Serious Skin Reactions
Advise patients to stop Alefen immediately if they develop any type of rash and contact their health care provider as soon as possible.
Advise females of reproductive potential who desire pregnancy that NSAIDs, including Alefen, may be associated with a reversible delay in ovulation
Inform pregnant women to avoid use of Alefen and other NSAIDs starting at 30 weeks gestation because of the risk of the premature closing of the fetal ductus arteriosus.
Avoid Concomitant Use Of NSAIDs
Inform patients that the concomitant use of Alefen with other NSAIDs or salicylates (e.g.,diflunisal, salsalate) is not recommended due to the increased risk of gastrointestinal toxicity, and little or no increase in efficacy. Alert patients that NSAIDs may be present in “over the counter” medications for treatment of colds, fever, or insomnia.
Use of NSAIDs And Low-Dose Aspirin
Inform patients not to use low-dose aspirin concomitantly with Alefen until they talk to their healthcare provider.
Instruct patients to avoid contact of Alefen 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.
Prevention Of Secondary Exposure
Instruct patients to avoid skin-to-skin contact between other people and the knee(s) to which Alefen was applied until the knee(s) is completely dry.
Special Application Instructions
Instruct patients not to apply Alefen 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 Alefen 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.
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 approximately 0.85 and 1.7 times, respectively, the maximum recommended human topical dose of Alefen (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 Alefen) 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 Alefen) 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 Alefen. Diclofenac sodium administered to male and female rats at doses up to 4 mg/kg/day (approximately 3.4 times the MRHD of Alefen 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
Use of NSAIDs, including Alefen, during the third trimester of pregnancy increases the risk of premature closure of the fetal ductus arteriosus. Avoid use of NSAIDs, including Alefen, in pregnant women starting at 30 weeks of gestation (third trimester).
There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of Alefen in pregnant women. Data from observational studies regarding potential embryofetal risks of NSAID use in women in the first or second trimesters of pregnancy are inconclusive. In the general U.S. population, all clinically recognized pregnancies, regardless of drug exposure, have a background rate of 2-4% for major malformations, and 15-20% for pregnancy loss. Published reproductive and developmental studies of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO, the solvent used in Alefen) are equivocal as to potential teratogenicity. In animal reproduction studies, no evidence of teratogenicity was observed in mice, rats, or rabbits given diclofenac during the period of organogenesis at doses up to approximately 0.6, 0.6, and 1.3 times, respectively, the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of Alefen, despite the presence of maternal and fetal toxicity at these doses. Based on animal data, prostaglandins have been shown to have an important role in endometrial vascular permeability, blastocyst implantation, and decidualization. In animal studies, administration of prostaglandin synthesis inhibitors such as diclofenac resulted in increased pre- and post-implantation loss.
Labor or Delivery
There are no studies on the effects of Alefen during labor or delivery. In animal studies, NSAIDs, including diclofenac inhibit prostaglandin synthesis, cause delayed parturition, and increase the incidence of stillbirth.
Reproductive and developmental studies in animals demonstrated that diclofenac sodium administration during organogenesis did not produce teratogenicity despite the induction of maternal toxicity and fetal toxicity in mice at oral doses up to 20 mg/kg/day (approximately 0.6 times the maximum recommended human dose [MRHD] of Alefen, 162 mg/day, based on body surface area (BSA) comparison), and in rats and rabbits at oral doses up to 10 mg/kg/day (approximately 0.6 and 1.3-times, respectively, the MRHD based on BSA comparison). Published reproductive and developmental studies of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO, the solvent used in Alefen) 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.
Based on available data, diclofenac may be present in human milk. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother's clinical need for CATAFLAM and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed infant from the CATAFLAM or from the underlying maternal condition.
One woman treated orally with a diclofenac salt, 150 mg/day, had a milk diclofenac level of 100 mcg/L, equivalent to an infant dose of about 0.03 mg/kg/day. Diclofenac was not detectable in breast milk in 12 women using diclofenac (after either 100 mg/day orally for 7 days or a single 50 mg intramuscular dose administered in the immediate postpartum period).
Females And Males Of Reproductive Potential
Based on the mechanism of action, the use of prostaglandin-mediated NSAIDs, including Alefen, may delay or prevent rupture of ovarian follicles, which has been associated with reversible infertility in some women. Published animal studies have shown that administration of prostaglandin synthesis inhibitors has the potential to disrupt prostaglandin-mediated follicular rupture required for ovulation. Small studies in women treated with NSAIDs have also shown a reversible delay in ovulation. Consider withdrawal of NSAIDs, including Alefen, in women who have difficulties conceiving or who are undergoing investigation of infertility.
Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.
Elderly patients, compared to younger patients, are at greater risk for NSAID-associated serious cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and/or renal adverse reactions. If the anticipated benefit for the elderly patient outweighs these potential risks, start dosing at the low end of the dosing range, and monitor patients for adverse effects.
Of the 911 patients treated with Alefen 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 Alefen 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 Alefen 1.5% for this elderly population.
Undesirable effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue and visual disturbances are possible after taking NSAIDs. If affected, patients should not drive or operate machinery.
The following adverse reactions are discussed in greater detail in other sections of the labeling:
- Cardiovascular Thrombotic Events
- GI Bleeding, Ulceration and Perforation
- Heart Failure and Edema
- Renal Toxicity and Hyperkalemia
- Anaphylactic Reactions
- Serious Skin Reactions
- Hematologic Toxicity
Clinical Trials Experience
Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.
The data described below reflect exposure to Alefen of 130 patients treated for 4 weeks (mean duration of 28 days) in one Phase 2 controlled trial. This population's mean age was approximately 60 years, 85% of patients were Caucasian, 65% were females, and all patients had primary osteoarthritis. The most common adverse events with Alefen were application site skin reactions. These events were the most common reason for withdrawing from the study.
Application Site Reactions
In this controlled trial, application site reactions were characterized by one or more of the following: dryness (22%), exfoliation (7%), erythema (4%), pruritus (2%), pain (2%), induration (2%), rash (2%), and scabbing ( < 1%).
Other Common Adverse Reactions
Table 1 lists all adverse reactions occurring in > 1% of patients receiving Alefen, where the rate in the Alefen group exceeded vehicle, from a controlled study conducted in patients with osteoarthritis.
Table 1: Incidence of Adverse Reactions Occurring in > 1% of Subjects with Osteoarthritis Using Alefen and More Often than in Subjects with OA Using Vehicle Control (Pooled)
|Adverse Reaction||Alefen |
|Vehicle Control |
|Urinary tract infection||4 (3%)||1 ( < 1%)|
|Application site induration||2 (2%)||1 ( < 1%)|
|Contusion||2 (2%)||1 ( < 1%)|
|Sinus congestion||2 (2%)||1 ( < 1%)|
The safety of Alefen 2% is based in part, on prior experience with Alefen 1.5%. The data described below reflect exposure to Alefen 1.5% of 911 patients treated between 4 and 12 weeks (mean duration of 49 days) in seven Phase 3 controlled trials, as well as exposure of 793 patients treated in an open-label study, including 463 patients treated for at least 6 months, and 144 patients treated for at least 12 months. The population mean age was approximately 60 years, 89% of patients were Caucasian, 64% were females, and all patients had primary osteoarthritis. The most common adverse events with Alefen 1.5% were application site skin reactions. These events were the most common reason for withdrawing from the studies.
Application Site Reactions
In controlled trials, application site reactions were characterized by one or more of the following: dryness, erythema, induration, vesicles, paresthesia, pruritus, vasodilation, acne, and urticaria. The most frequent of these reactions were dry skin (32%), contact dermatitis characterized by skin erythema and induration (9%), contact dermatitis with vesicles (2%) and pruritus (4%). In one controlled trial, a higher rate of contact dermatitis with vesicles (4%) was observed after treatment of 152 subjects with the combination of Alefen 1.5% and oral diclofenac. In the open-label uncontrolled long-term safety study, contact dermatitis occurred in 13% and contact dermatitis with vesicles in 10% of patients, generally within the first 6 months of exposure, leading to a withdrawal rate for an application site event of 14%.
Other Common Adverse Reactions
In controlled trials, subjects treated with Alefen 1.5% experienced some adverse events associated with the NSAID class more frequently than subjects using placebo (constipation, diarrhea, dyspepsia, nausea, flatulence, abdominal pain, edema; see Table 2). The combination of Alefen 1.5% and oral diclofenac, compared to oral diclofenac alone, resulted in a higher rate of rectal hemorrhage (3% vs. less than 1%), and more frequent abnormal creatinine (12% vs. 7%), urea (20% vs. 12%), and hemoglobin (13% vs. 9%), but no difference in elevation of liver transaminases.
Table 2 lists all adverse reactions occurring in ≥ 1% of patients receiving Alefen 1.5%, where the rate in the Alefen 1.5% group exceeded placebo, from seven controlled studies conducted in patients with osteoarthritis. Since these trials were of different durations, these percentages do not capture cumulative rates of occurrence.
Table 2: Adverse Reactions Occurring in ≥ 1% of Patients Treated with Alefen 1.5% Topical Solution in Placebo and Oral Diclofenac-Controlled Trials
|Treatment Group:||Alefen 1.5% |
|Topical Placebo |
|Adverse Reaction||N (%)||N (%)|
|Dry Skin (Application Site)||292 (32)||17 (5)|
|Contact Dermatitis (Application Site)||83 (9)||6 (2)|
|Dyspepsia||72 (8)||13 (4)|
|Abdominal Pain||54 (6)||10 (3)|
|Flatulence||35 (4)||1 ( < 1)|
|Pruritus (Application Site)||34 (4)||7 (2)|
|Diarrhea||33 (4)||7 (2)|
|Nausea||33 (4)||3 (1)|
|Pharyngitis||40 (4)||13 (4)|
|Constipation||29 (3)||1 ( < 1)|
|Rash (Non-Application Site)||25 (3)||5 (2)|
|Infection||25 (3)||8 (2)|
|Ecchymosis||19 (2)||1 ( < 1)|
|Dry Skin (Non-Application Site)||19 (2)||1 ( < 1)|
|Contact Dermatitis, vesicles (Application Site)||18 (2)||0|
|Paresthesia (Non-Application Site)||14 (2)||3 ( < 1)|
|Accidental Injury||22 (2)||7 (2)|
|Pruritus (Non-Application Site)||15 (2)||2 ( < 1)|
|Sinusitis||10 (1)||2 ( < 1)|
|Halitosis||11 (1)||1 ( < 1)|
|Application Site Reaction (not otherwise specified)||11 (1)||3 ( < 1)|
In postmarketing surveillance, the following adverse reactions have been reported during post- approval use of Alefen 1.5%. Because these reactions 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.
Body as a Whole: abdominal pain, accidental injury, allergic reactions, asthenia, back pain, body odor, chest pain, edema, face edema, halitosis, headache, neck rigidity, pain
Cardiovascular: palpitation, cardiovascular disorder
Gastrointestinal: diarrhea, dry mouth, dyspepsia, gastroenteritis, decreased appetite, lip swelling, mouth ulceration, nausea, rectal hemorrhage, ulcerative stomatitis, swollen tongue
Metabolic and Nutritional: creatinine increased
Musculoskeletal: leg cramps, myalgia
Nervous: depression, dizziness, drowsiness, lethargy, paresthesia at application site
Respiratory: asthma, dyspnea, laryngismus, laryngitis, pharyngitis, throat swelling
Skin and Appendages: At the Application
Site: rash, skin burning sensation;
Other Skin and Appendages Adverse Reactions: eczema, skin discoloration, urticaria
Special Senses: abnormal vision, blurred vision, cataract, ear pain, eye disorder, eye pain, taste perversion
Vascular: blood pressure increased, hypertension
Symptoms following acute NSAID overdosages have been typically limited to lethargy, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, and epigastric pain, which have been generally reversible with supportive care. Gastrointestinal bleeding has occurred. Hypertension, acute renal failure, respiratory depression, and coma have occurred but were rare.
Manage patients with symptomatic and supportive care following an NSAID overdosage. There are no specific antidotes. Emesis is not recommended due to a possibility of aspiration and subsequent respiratory irritation by DMSO contained in Alefen. Consider activated charcoal (60 to 100 grams in adults, 1 to 2 grams per kg of body weight in pediatric patients) and/or osmotic cathartic in symptomatic patients seen within four hours of ingestion or in patients with a large overdosage (5 to 10 times the recommended dosage). Forced diuresis, alkalinization of urine, hemodialysis, or hemoperfusion may not be useful due to high protein binding.
For additional information about overdosage treatment, contact a poison control center (1-800-222-1222).
Pharmacotherapeutic group: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
ATC code: M01A B05
Alefen Potassium tablets contain the potassium salt of Alefen, a non-steroidal compound with pronounced and clinically demonstrable analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-pyretic properties.
Alefen is a potent inhibitor of prostaglandin biosynthesis and a modulator of arachidonic acid release and uptake.
Alefen Potassium tablets have a rapid onset of action and are therefore suitable for the treatment of acute episodes of pain and inflammation.
In migraine attacks Alefen Potassium tablets have been shown to be effective in relieving the headache and in improving the accompanying symptom of nausea.
Alefen in vitro does not suppress proteoglycan biosynthesis in cartilage at concentrations equivalent to the concentrations reached in human beings.
There is limited clinical trial experience of the use of Alefen in JRA/JIA paediatric patients. In a randomised, double-blind, 2-week, parallel group study in children aged 3-15 years with JRA/JIA, the efficacy and safety of daily 2-3 mg/kg BW Alefen was compared with acetylsalicylic acid (ASS, 50-100 mg/kg BW/d) and placebo - 15 patients in each group. In the global evaluation, 11 of 15 Alefen patients, 6 of 12 aspirin and 4 of 15 placebo patients showed improvement with the difference being statistically significant (p < 0.05). The number of tender joints decreased with Alefen and ASS but increased with placebo. In a second randomised, double-blind, 6-week, parallel group study in children aged 4-15 years with JRA/JIA, the efficacy of Alefen (daily dose 2-3 mg/kg BW, n=22) was comparable with that of indomethacin (daily dose 2-3 mg/kg BW, n=23).
Pharmacotherapeutic group: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
ATC code: M01A B05
Alefenac Potassium tablets contain the potassium salt of Alefenac, a non-steroidal compound with pronounced and clinically demonstrable analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-pyretic properties.
Alefenac is a potent inhibitor of prostaglandin biosynthesis and a modulator of arachidonic acid release and uptake.
Alefenac Potassium tablets have a rapid onset of action and are therefore suitable for the treatment of acute episodes of pain and inflammation.
In migraine attacks Alefenac Potassium tablets have been shown to be effective in relieving the headache and in improving the accompanying symptom of nausea.
Alefenac in vitro does not suppress proteoglycan biosynthesis in cartilage at concentrations equivalent to the concentrations reached in human beings.
There is limited clinical trial experience of the use of Alefenac in JRA/JIA paediatric patients. In a randomised, double-blind, 2-week, parallel group study in children aged 3-15 years with JRA/JIA, the efficacy and safety of daily 2-3 mg/kg BW Alefenac was compared with acetylsalicylic acid (ASS, 50-100 mg/kg BW/d) and placebo - 15 patients in each group. In the global evaluation, 11 of 15 Alefenac patients, 6 of 12 aspirin and 4 of 15 placebo patients showed improvement with the difference being statistically significant (p < 0.05). The number of tender joints decreased with Alefenac and ASS but increased with placebo. In a second randomised, double-blind, 6-week, parallel group study in children aged 4-15 years with JRA/JIA, the efficacy of Alefenac (daily dose 2-3 mg/kg BW, n=22) was comparable with that of indomethacin (daily dose 2-3 mg/kg BW, n=23).
After administration of Alefen topical solution (40 mg/knee every 12 h; total daily diclofenac exposure: 80 mg/knee) for 7.5 days, the mean (SD) AUC0-12 and mean (SD) Cmax were 77.27 (49.89) ng•h/mL and 12.16 (7.66) ng/mL, respectively, on Day 1; and 204.58 (111.02) ng•h/mL and 25.24 (12.95) ng/mL, respectively, at steady state on Day 8. After administration of Alefen 1.5% topical solution (19.3 mg/knee every 6 h; total daily diclofenac exposure 77.2 mg/knee), the mean (SD) AUC0-12 and mean (SD) Cmax were 27.46 (23.97) ng•h/mL and 2.30 (2.02) ng/mL, respectively, on Day 1; and 141.49 (92.47) ng•h/mL and 17.04 (11.28) ng/mL, respectively, at steady state on Day 8.
The pharmacokinetics and effect of Alefen were not evaluated under the conditions of heat application, occlusive dressings overlay, or exercise following product application. Therefore, concurrent use of Alefen under these conditions is not recommended.
Diclofenac is more than 99% bound to human serum proteins, primarily to albumin.
Diclofenac diffuses into and out of the synovial fluid. Diffusion into the joint occurs when plasma levels are higher than those in the synovial fluid, after which the process reverses and synovial fluid levels are higher than plasma levels. It is not known whether diffusion into the joint plays a role in the effectiveness of diclofenac.
Five diclofenac metabolites have been identified in human plasma and urine. The metabolites include 4'-hydroxy-, 5hydroxy-, 3'-hydroxy-, 4',5-dihydroxy- and 3'-hydroxy-4'-methoxy diclofenac. The major diclofenac metabolite, 4'hydroxy-diclofenac, has very weak pharmacologic activity. The formation of 4'-hydroxy diclofenac is primarily mediated by CYP2C9. Both diclofenac and its oxidative metabolites undergo glucuronidation or sulfation followed by biliary excretion. Acylglucuronidation mediated by UGT2B7 and oxidation mediated by CYP2C8 may also play a role in diclofenac metabolism. CYP3A4 is responsible for the formation of minor metabolites, 5-hydroxy and 3'-hydroxydiclofenac.
Diclofenac is eliminated through metabolism and subsequent urinary and biliary excretion of the glucuronide and the sulfate conjugates of the metabolites.
Little or no free unchanged diclofenac is excreted in the urine.
Relevant information on the safety of Alefen Potassium Tablets is included in previous sections of this Summary of Product Characteristics.
Relevant information on the safety of Alefenac Potassium Tablets is included in previous sections of this Summary of Product Characteristics.
Not applicable.Administrative data
However, we will provide data for each active ingredient