Method of action:
Medically reviewed by Militian Inessa Mesropovna, PharmD. Last updated on 2020-04-02
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- Severe forms of psoriasis vulgaris, particularly of the plaque type, which cannot be sufficiently treated with conventional therapy such as phototherapy and PUVA, and severe psoriatic arthritis.
- Active rheumatoid arthritis in adult patients.
Alltrex PEN is indicated for the treatment of
- active rheumatoid arthritis in adult patients,
- polyarthritic forms of severe, active juvenile idiopathic arthritis, when the response to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) has been inadequate,
- severe recalcitrant disabling psoriasis, which is not adequately responsive to other forms of therapy such as phototherapy, PUVA, and retinoids, and severe psoriatic arthritis in adult patients.
- mild to moderate Crohn's disease either alone or in combination with corticosteroids in adult patients refractory or intolerant to thiopurines.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Including Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Alltrex is indicated in the management of selected adults with severe, active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (ACR criteria), or children with active polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (pJIA), who have had an insufficient therapeutic response to, or are intolerant of, an adequate trial of first-line therapy including full dose non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs).
Alltrex is indicated in adults for the symptomatic control of severe, recalcitrant, disabling psoriasis that is not adequately responsive to other forms of therapy, but only when the diagnosis has been established, as by biopsy and/or after dermatologic consultation. It is important to ensure that a psoriasis “flare” is not due to an undiagnosed concomitant disease affecting immune responses.
Limitation Of Use
Alltrex is not indicated for the treatment of neoplastic diseases.
This medicine should be taken once a week.
Do not exceed the weekly dose of this medicine due to toxicity hazards in psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The prescriber may specify the day of intake on the prescription.
Before starting treatment it is advisable to give the patient a test dose of 2.5-5.0 mg to exclude unexpected toxic effects. If, one week later, appropriate laboratory tests are normal, treatment may be initiated.
The usual dose is 5-25 mg taken once weekly, starting with a low dose and increasing as necessary.
The planned weekly dose may be administered in three divided doses at 12 hour intervals over 24 hours.
The patient should be fully informed of the risks involved and the clinician should pay particular attention to the appearance of liver toxicity by carrying out liver function tests before starting Alltrex treatment, and repeating these at 2 to 4 month intervals during therapy. The aim of therapy should be to reduce the dose to the lowest possible level with the longest possible rest period. The use of Alltrex may permit the return to conventional topical therapy which should be encouraged.
The usual dose is 7.5 - 15 mg once weekly. The planned weekly dose may be administered in three divided doses at 12 hour intervals over 24 hours. The schedule may be adjusted gradually to achieve an optimal response but should not exceed a total weekly dose of 20 mg.
Patients with renal impairment
Alltrex should be used with caution in patients with impaired renal function.
The dose should be adjusted as follows:
Creatinine clearance (ml/min)
Alltrex must not be used
Patients with hepatic impairment
Alltrex should be administered with great caution, if at all, to patients with significant current or previous liver disease, especially if due to alcohol. Alltrex in contraindicated if bilirubin values are > 5 mg/dl (85.5 Î¼mol/l).
Patients with pathological fluid accumulation
Alltrex elimination is reduced in patients with pathological fluid accumulation (third space fluids) such as ascites or pleural effusions that may lead to prolonged Alltrex plasma elimination half-life and unexpected toxicity. Pleural effusions and ascites should be drained prior to initiation of Alltrex treatment. Alltrex dose should be reduced according to the serum Alltrex concentrations.
Alltrex should be used with extreme caution in elderly patients. Dose reduction should be considered due to reduced liver and kidney function as well as lower folate reserves which occur with increased age.
Alltrex is not recommended for children under 3 years as insufficient data on efficacy and safety is available for this population
Alltrex PEN should only be prescribed by physicians, who are familiar with the various characteristics of the medicinal product and its mode of action. Patients must be educated to use the proper injection technique. The first injection of Alltrex PEN should be performed under direct medical supervision. Alltrex PEN is injected once weekly.
The patient must be explicitly informed about the fact that Alltrex PEN is administered once a week only. It is advisable to determine an appropriate fixed day of the week for the injection.
Methotrexate elimination is reduced in patients with a third distribution space (ascites, pleural effusions). Such patients require especially careful monitoring for toxicity, and require dose reduction or, in some cases, discontinuation of methotrexate administration.
Dosage in adult patients with rheumatoid arthritis
The recommended initial dose is 7.5 mg of methotrexate once weekly, administered subcutaneously. Depending on the individual activity of the disease and tolerability by the patient, the initial dose may be increased gradually by 2.5 mg per week. A weekly dose of 25 mg should in general not be exceeded. Doses exceeding 20 mg/week are associated with significant increase in toxicity, especially bone marrow suppression. Response to treatment can be expected after approximately 4 - 8 weeks. Upon achieving the therapeutically desired result, the dose should be reduced gradually to the lowest possible effective maintenance dose.
Dosage in children and adolescents below 16 years with polyarthritic forms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis
The recommended dose is 10 - 15 mg/mÂ² body surface area (BSA)/once weekly. In therapy-refractory cases the weekly dosage may be increased up to 20 mg/mÂ² body surface area/once weekly. However, an increased monitoring frequency is indicated if the dose is increased.
Due to limited data availability about intravenous use in children and adolescents, parenteral administration is limited to subcutaneous injection.
Patients with JIA should always be referred to a rheumatology specialist in the treatment of children/adolescents.
Use in children < 3 years of age is not recommended as insufficient data on efficacy and safety is available for this population.
Dosage in patients with psoriasis vulgaris and psoriatic arthritis
It is recommended that a test dose of 5 - 10 mg should be administered parenterally, one week prior to therapy to detect idiosyncratic adverse reactions. The recommended initial dose is 7.5 mg of methotrexate once weekly, administered subcutaneously. The dose is to be increased gradually but should not, in general, exceed a weekly dose of 25 mg of methotrexate. Doses exceeding 20 mg per week can be associated with significant increase in toxicity, especially bone marrow suppression. Response to treatment can generally be expected after approximately 2 - 6 weeks. Upon achieving the therapeutically desired result, the dose should be reduced gradually to the lowest possible effective maintenance dose.
Maximum weekly dose
The dose should be increased as necessary but should in general not exceed the maximum recommended weekly dose of 25 mg. In a few exceptional cases a higher dose might be clinically justified, but should not exceed a maximum weekly dose of 30 mg of methotrexate as toxicity will markedly increase.
Dosage in patients with Crohn's disease
- Induction treatment:
25 mg/week administered subcutaneously.
Response to treatment can be expected after approximately 8 to 12 weeks.
- Maintenance treatment:
15 mg/week administered subcutaneously.
There is not sufficient experience in the paediatric population to recommend Alltrex PEN for the treatment of Crohn's disease in this population.
Patients with renal impairment
Alltrex PEN should be used with caution in patients with impaired renal function. The dose should be adjusted as follows:
Creatinine clearance (ml/min)
30 - 59
Alltrex PEN must not be used
Patients with hepatic impairment
Methotrexate should be administered with great caution, if at all, to patients with significant current or previous liver disease, especially if due to alcohol. If bilirubin is > 5 mg/dl (85.5 Âµmol/l), methotrexate is contraindicated.
Use in elderly patients
Dose reduction should be considered in elderly patients due to reduced liver and kidney function as well as lower folate reserves which occur with increased age.
Use in patient with a third distribution space (pleural effusions, ascites)
As the half-life of methotrexate can be prolonged to 4 times the normal length in patients who possess a third distribution space dose reduction or, in some cases, discontinuation of methotrexate administration may be required.
Method of administration
The medicinal product is for single use only.
Alltrex PEN solution for injection in pre-filled pen can only be given by subcutaneous route.
The overall duration of the treatment is decided by the physician.
Guidance on how to use Alltrex PEN solution for injection in pre-filled pen can be found in section 6.6.
Please note that all of the contents have to be used.
If changing the oral application to parenteral administration a reduction of the dose may be required due to the variable bioavailability of methotrexate after oral administration.
Folic acid supplementation may be considered according to current treatment guidelines.
Important Dosing Information
Alltrex is a single-dose manually-triggered auto-injector for once-weekly subcutaneous use only. Administer Alltrex in the abdomen or the thigh. Alltrex is only available in doses between 7.5 to 30 mg in 2.5 mg increments. Use another formulation of methotrexate for alternative dosing in patients who require oral, intramuscular, intravenous, intra-arterial, or intrathecal dosing, doses less than 7.5 mg per week, doses more than 30 mg per week, high-dose regimens, or dose adjustments of less than 2.5 mg increments.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Including Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Recommended Starting Dose of Methotrexate
Adult RA: 7.5 mg as a single oral or subcutaneous dose once weekly.
pJIA: 10 mg/m² once weekly.
For patients switching from oral methotrexate to Alltrex, consider any differences in bioavailability between oral and subcutaneously administered methotrexate. Dosages may be adjusted gradually to achieve an optimal response. Limited experience shows a significant increase in the incidence and severity of serious toxic reactions, especially bone marrow suppression, at doses greater than 20 mg/wk in adults. Although there is experience with doses up to 30 mg/m²/wk in children, there are too few published data to assess how doses over 20 mg/m²/wk might affect the risk of serious toxicity in children. Experience does suggest, however, that children receiving 20 to 30 mg/m²/wk (0.65 to 1.0 mg/kg/wk) may have better absorption and fewer gastrointestinal side effects if methotrexate is administered either intramuscularly or subcutaneously. Therapeutic response usually begins within 3 to 6 weeks and the patient may continue to improve for another 12 weeks or more.
The optimal duration of therapy is unknown. Limited data available from long-term studies in adults indicate that the initial clinical improvement is maintained for at least two years with continued therapy. When methotrexate is discontinued, the arthritis usually worsens within 3 to 6 weeks.
The patient should be fully informed of the risks involved and should be under constant supervision of the physician. Assessment of hematologic, hepatic, renal, and pulmonary function should be made by history, physical examination, and laboratory tests before beginning, periodically during, and before reinstituting Alltrex therapy. Females of childbearing potential should not be started on Alltrex until pregnancy is excluded.
All schedules should be continually tailored to the individual patient. An initial test dose may be given prior to the regular dosing schedule to detect any extreme sensitivity to adverse effects. Maximal myelosuppression usually occurs in seven to ten days.
Recommended Starting Dose of Methotrexate
Psoriasis: 10-25 mg as a single oral, intramuscular, subcutaneous, or intravenous dose once weekly.
For patients switching from oral methotrexate to Alltrex, consider any differences in bioavailability between oral and subcutaneously administered methotrexate.
Dosage may be gradually adjusted to achieve optimal clinical response; 30 mg/week should not ordinarily be exceeded. Once optimal clinical response has been achieved, the dosage should be reduced to the lowest possible amount of drug and to the longest possible rest period. The use of Alltrex may permit the return to conventional topical therapy, which should be encouraged.
Administration And Handling
Alltrex is a manually-triggered auto-injector intended for subcutaneous use under the guidance and supervision of a physician.
Patients may self-inject with Alltrex if a physician determines that it is appropriate, if they have received proper training in how to prepare and administer the correct dose, and if they receive medical follow-up, as necessary.
Alltrex is injected once weekly. The patient must be explicitly informed about the once weekly dosing schedule. It is advisable to determine an appropriate fixed day of the week for the injection.
Visually inspect Alltrex for particulate matter and discoloration prior to administration. Do not use Alltrex if the seal is broken.
Handle and dispose of Alltrex consistent with recommendations for handling and disposal of cytotoxic drugs1.
Overt or laboratory evidence of immunodeficiency syndrome(s);
Pre-existing blood dyscrasias, such as significant marrow hypoplasia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia or anaemia.
Alltrex is contraindicated in pregnancy.
Due to the potential for serious adverse reactions from Alltrex in breast fed infants, breast feeding is contra-indicated in women taking Alltrex.
Patients with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, the Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption should not take this medicine.
Alltrex PEN is contraindicated in the case of
- hypersensitivity to the active substance or to any of the excipients listed in section 6.1,
- severe liver impairment ,
- alcohol abuse,
- severe renal impairment ,
- pre-existing blood dyscrasias, such as bone marrow hypoplasia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, or significant anaemia,
- serious, acute or chronic infections such as tuberculosis, HIV or other immunodeficiency syndromes,
- ulcers of the oral cavity and known active gastrointestinal ulcer disease,
- pregnancy, breast-feeding ,
- concurrent vaccination with live vaccines.
Alltrex is contraindicated in the following:
Alltrex can cause fetal death or teratogenic effects when administered to a pregnant woman. Alltrex is contraindicated in pregnant women. If this drug is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus.
- Nursing Mothers
Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions from methotrexate in breast fed infants, Alltrex is contraindicated in nursing mothers.
- Alcoholism or Liver Disease
Patients with alcoholism, alcoholic liver disease or other chronic liver disease.
- Immunodeficiency Syndromes
Patients who have overt or laboratory evidence of immunodeficiency syndromes.
- Preexisting Blood Dyscrasias
Patients who have preexisting blood dyscrasias, such as bone marrow hypoplasia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, or significant anemia.
Patients with a known hypersensitivity to methotrexate. Severe hypersensitivity reactions have been observed with methotrexate use.
Alltrex must be used only by physicians experienced in antimetabolite chemotherapy.
Concomittant administration of hepatotoxic or haematotoxic DMARDs (e.g. leflunomide) is not advisable.
Due to the possibility of fatal or severe toxic reactions, the patient should be fully informed by the physician of the risks involved and be under his constant supervision.
Acute or chronic interstitial pneumonitis, often associated with blood eosinophilia, may occur and deaths have been reported. Symptoms typically include dyspnoea, cough (especially a dry non-productive cough) and fever for which patients should be monitored at each follow-up visit. Patients should be informed of the risk of pneumonitis and advised to contact their doctor immediately should they develop persistent cough or dyspnoea.
Alltrex should be withdrawn from patients with pulmonary symptoms and a thorough investigation should be made to exclude infection. If Alltrex induced lung disease is suspected treatment with corticosteroids should be initiated and treatment with Alltrex should not be restarted.
When a patient presents with pulmonary symptoms, the possibility of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia should be considered.
Alltrex has the potential for serious, sometimes fatal toxicity. The toxic effects may be related in frequency and severity to the dose or frequency of administration but have been seen at all doses. Because the toxic reactions can occur at any time during therapy, the patients have to be observed closely and must be informed of early signs and symptoms of toxicity.
Use caution when administering high-dose Alltrex to patients receiving proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy. Case reports and published population pharmacokinetic studies suggest that concomitant use of some PPIs, such as omeprazole, esomeprazole, and pantoprazole, with Alltrex (primarily at high dose), may elevate and prolong serum levels of Alltrex and/or its metabolite hydroxyAlltrex, possibly leading to Alltrex toxicities. In two of these cases, delayed Alltrex elimination was observed when high-dose Alltrex was co-administered with PPIs, but was not observed when Alltrex was co-administered with ranitidine. However, no formal drug interaction studies of Alltrex with ranitidine have been conducted.
The carton and bottle label will state: â€œCheck dose and frequency - Alltrex is usually taken once a week.â€
Deaths have been reported with the use of Alltrex in the treatment of psoriasis.
In the treatment of psoriasis, Alltrex should be restricted to severe recalcitrant, disabling psoriasis which is not adequately responsive to other forms of therapy, but only when the diagnosis has been established by biopsy and/or after dermatological consultation.
The prescriber may specify the day of intake on the prescription.
Patients should be aware of importance of adhering to the once weekly intakes.
1. Full blood counts should be closely monitored before, during and after treatment. If a clinically significant drop in white-cell or platelet count develops, Alltrex should be withdrawn immediately. Patients should be advised to report all symptoms or signs suggestive of infection.
2. Alltrex may be hepatotoxic, particularly at high dosage or with prolonged therapy. Liver atrophy, necrosis, cirrhosis, fatty changes, and periportal fibrosis have been reported. Since changes may occur without previous signs of gastrointestinal or haematological toxicity, it is imperative that hepatic function be determined prior to initiation of treatment and monitored regularly throughout therapy. If substantial hepatic function abnormalities develop, Alltrex dosing should be suspended for at least 2 weeks. Special caution is indicated in the presence of pre-existing liver damage or impaired hepatic function. Concomitant use of other drugs with hepatotoxic potential (including alcohol) should be avoided.
3. Alltrex has been shown to be teratogenic; it has caused foetal death and/or congenital anomalies. Therefore it is not recommended in women of childbearing potential unless there is appropriate medical evidence that the benefits can be expected to outweigh the considered risks. Pregnant psoriatic patients should not receive Alltrex.
4. Renal function should be closely monitored before, during and after treatment. Caution should be exercised if significant renal impairment is disclosed. Reduce dose of Alltrex in patients with renal impairment. High doses may cause the precipitation of Alltrex or its metabolites in the renal tubules. A high fluid throughput and alkalinisation of the urine to pH 6.5 - 7.0, by oral or intravenous administration of sodium bicarbonate (5 x 625 mg tablets every three hours) or acetazolamide (500 mg orally four times a day) is recommended as a preventative measure. Alltrex is excreted primarily by the kidneys. Its use in the presence of impaired renal function may result in accumulation of toxic amounts or even additional renal damage.
5. Diarrhoea and ulcerative stomatitis are frequent toxic effects and require interruption of therapy, otherwise haemorrhagic enteritis and death from intestinal perforation may occur.
6. Alltrex affects gametogenesis during the period of its administration and may result in decreased fertility which is thought to be reversible on discontinuation of therapy. Conception should be avoided during the period of Alltrex administration and for at least 6 months thereafter. Patients and their partners should be advised to this effect.
7. Alltrex has some immunosuppressive activity and immunological responses to concurrent vaccination may be decreased. The immunosuppressive effect of Alltrex should be taken into account when immune responses of patients are important or essential. Immunization with live virus vaccines is generally not recommended.
8. Pleural effusions and ascites should be drained prior to initiation of Alltrex therapy.
9. Deaths have been reported with the use of Alltrex. Serious adverse reactions including deaths have been reported with concomitant administration of Alltrex (usually in high doses) along with some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
10. Concomitant administration of folate antagonists such as trimethoprim/sulphamethoxazole has been reported to cause an acute megaloblastic pancytopenia in rare instances.
11. Systemic toxicity may occur following intrathecal administration. Blood counts should be monitored closely.
12 A chest X-ray is recommended prior to initiation of Alltrex therapy.
13 If acute Alltrex toxicity occurs, patients may require folinic acid.
14 Severe, occasionally fatal, cutaneous or sensitivity reactions (e.g., toxic epidermic necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, exfoliative dermatitis, skin necrosis, erythema multiforme, vasculitis and extensive herpetiform skin eruptions) may occur after the administration of Alltrex and recovery ensured mostly after discontinuation of the therapy.
Alltrex has a high potential toxicity, usually dose related, and should be used only by physicians experienced in antimetabolite chemotherapy, in patients under their constant supervision. The physician should be familiar with the various characteristics of the drug and its established clinical usage.
Before beginning Alltrex therapy or reinstituting Alltrex after a rest period, assessment of renal function, liver function and blood elements should be made by history, physical examination and laboratory tests. If any abnormality in liver function tests or liver biopsy is seen prior to initiation of treatment or develops during therapy, treatment with Alltrex should not be instituted, or should be discontinued. Should such abnormalities return to normal within two weeks, treatment may be recommenced at the discretion of the physician.
It should be noted that intrathecal doses are transported into the cardiovascular system and may give rise to systemic toxicity. Systemic toxicity of Alltrex may also be enhanced in patients with renal dysfunction, ascites, or other effusions due to prolongation of serum half-life.
Malignant Lymphomas may occur in patients receiving low dose Alltrex, in which case therapy must be discontinued. Failure of the Lymphoma to show signs of spontaneous regression requires the initiation of cytotoxic therapy.
Carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, and impairment of fertility: Animal carcinogenicity studies have demonstrated Alltrex to be free of carcinogenic potential. Although Alltrex has been reported to cause chromosomal damage to animal somatic cells and bone marrow cells in humans, these effects are transient and reversible. In patients treated with Alltrex, evidence is insufficient to permit conclusive evaluation of any increased risk of neoplasia.
Alltrex has been reported to cause impairment of fertility, oligospermia, menstrual dysfunction and amenorrhoea in humans, during and for a short period after cessation of therapy. In addition, Alltrex causes embryotoxicity, abortion and foetal defects in humans. Therefore the possible risks of effects on reproduction should be discussed with patients of childbearing potential (see 'Warnings').
Patients undergoing therapy should be subject to appropriate supervision so that signs or symptoms of possible toxic effects or adverse reactions may be detected and evaluated with minimal delay. Pretreatment and periodic haematological studies are essential to the use of Alltrex in chemotherapy because of its common effect of haematopoietic suppression. This may occur abruptly and on apparent safe dosage, and any profound drop in blood cell count indicates immediate stopping of the drug and appropriate therapy. In patients with malignant disease who have pre-existing bone marrow aplasia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia or anaemia, Alltrex should be used with caution, if at all.
In general, the following laboratory tests are recommended as part of essential clinical evaluation and appropriate monitoring of patients chosen for or receiving Alltrex therapy: complete haemogram; haematocrit; urinalysis; renal function tests; liver function tests and chest X-ray.
The purpose is to determine any existing organ dysfunction or system impairment. The tests should be performed prior to therapy, at appropriate periods during therapy and after termination of therapy.
Liver biopsy may be considered after cumulative doses > 1.5g have been given, if hepatic impairment is suspected.
Alltrex is bound in part to serum albumin after absorption, and toxicity may be increased because of displacement by certain drugs such as salicylates, sulphonamides, phenytoin, and some antibacterials such as tetracycline, chloramphenicol and para-aminobenzoic acid. These drugs, especially salicylates and sulphonamides, whether antibacterial, hypoglycaemic or diuretic, should not be given concurrently until the significance of these findings is established.
Vitamin preparations containing folic acid or its derivatives may alter response to Alltrex.
Alltrex should be used with extreme caution in the presence of infection, peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis, debility, and in extreme youth and old age. If profound leukopenia occurs during therapy, bacterial infection may occur or become a threat. Cessation of the drug and appropriate antibiotic therapy is usually indicated. In severe bone marrow depression, blood or platelet transfusions may be necessary.
Since it is reported that Alltrex may have an immunosuppressive action, this factor must be taken into consideration in evaluating the use of the drug where immune responses in a patient may be important or essential.
In all instances where the use of Alltrex is considered for chemotherapy, the physician must evaluate the need and usefulness of the drug against the risks of toxic effects or adverse reactions. Most such adverse reactions are reversible if detected early. When such effects or reactions do occur, the drug should be reduced in dosage or discontinued and appropriate corrective measures should be taken according to the clinical judgement of the physician. Reinstitution of Alltrex therapy should be carried out with caution, with adequate consideration of further need for the drug and alertness as to the possible recurrence of toxicity.
Alltrex given concomitantly with radiotherapy may increase the risk of soft tissue necrosis and osteonecrosis.
Patients must be clearly informed that the therapy has to be administered once a week, not every day.
Patients undergoing therapy should be subject to appropriate supervision so that signs of possible toxic effects or adverse reactions may be detected and evaluated with minimal delay. Therefore treatment with methotrexate should only be initiated and supervised by physicians whose knowledge and experience includes the use of antimetabolite therapy. Because of the possibility of severe or even fatal toxic reactions, the patient should be fully informed by the physician of the risks involved and the recommended safety measures.
Recommended examinations and safety measures
Before beginning or reinstituting methotrexate therapy after a rest period
Complete blood count with differential blood count and platelets, liver enzymes, bilirubin, serum albumin, chest x-ray and renal function tests. If clinically indicated, exclude tuberculosis and hepatitis.
During therapy (at least once a month during the first six months and every three months thereafter)
An increased monitoring frequency should be considered also when the dose is increased.
1. Examination of the mouth and throat for mucosal changes
2. Complete blood count with differential blood count and platelets. Haemopoietic suppression caused by methotrexate may occur abruptly and with apparently safe dosages. Any profound drop in white-cell or platelet counts indicates immediate withdrawal of the medicinal product and appropriate supportive therapy. Patients should be advised to report all signs and symptoms suggestive of infection. Patients taking simultaneous administration of haematotoxic medicinal products (e.g. leflunomide) should be monitored closely with blood count and platelets.
3. Liver function tests: Particular attention should be given to the appearance of liver toxicity. Treatment should not be instituted or should be discontinued if any abnormality of liver function tests, or liver biopsy, is present or develops during therapy. Such abnormalities should return to normal within two weeks after which treatment may be recommenced at the discretion of the physician. There is no evidence to support use of a liver biopsy to monitor hepatic toxicity in rheumatological indications.
For psoriasis patients the need of a liver biopsy prior to and during therapy is controversial. Further research is needed to establish whether serial liver chemistry tests or propeptide of type III collagen can detect hepatotoxicity sufficiently. The evaluation should be performed case by case and differentiate between patients with no risk factors and patients with risk factors such as excessive prior alcohol consumption, persistent elevation of liver enzymes, history of liver disease, family history of inheritable liver disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and history of significant exposure to hepatotoxic drugs or chemicals and prolonged Methotrexate treatment or cumulative doses of 1.5 g or more.
Check of liver-related enzymes in serum: Temporary increases in transaminases to twice or three times of the upper limit of normal have been reported by patients at a frequency of 13 - 20 %. In the case of a constant increase in liver-related enzymes, a reduction of the dose or discontinuation of therapy should be taken into consideration.
Due to its potentially toxic effect on the liver, additional hepatotoxic medicinal products should not be taken during treatment with methotrexate unless clearly necessary and the consumption of alcohol should be avoided or greatly reduced. Closer monitoring of liver enzymes should be exercised in patients taking other hepatotoxic medicinal products concomitantly (e.g. leflunomide). The same should be taken into account with the simultaneous administration of haematotoxic medicinal products (e.g. leflunomide).
4. Renal function should be monitored by renal function tests and urinanalysis.
As methotrexate is eliminated mainly by renal route, increased serum concentrations are to be expected in the case of renal impairment, which may result in severe undesirable effects.
Where renal function may be compromised (e.g. in the elderly), monitoring should take place more frequently. This applies in particular when medicinal products are administered concomitantly that affect the elimination of methotrexate, cause kidney damage (e.g. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicinal products) or that can potentially lead to impairment of blood formation. Dehydration may also intensify the toxicity of methotrexate.
5. Assessment of respiratory system: Alertness for symptoms of lung function impairment and, if necessary lung function test. Pulmonary affection requires a quick diagnosis and discontinuation of methotrexate. Pulmonary symptoms (especially a dry, non-productive cough) or a non-specific pneumonitis occurring during methotrexate therapy may be indicative of a potentially dangerous lesion and require interruption of treatment and careful investigation. Acute or chronic interstitial pneumonitis, often associated with blood eosinophilia, may occur and deaths have been reported. Although clinically variable, the typical patient with methotrexate-induced lung disease presents with fever, cough, dyspnoea, hypoxemia, and an infiltrate on chest X-ray, infection needs to be excluded. This lesion can occur at all doses.
6. Methotrexate may, due to its effect on the immune system, impair the response to vaccination results and affect the result of immunological tests. Particular caution is also needed in the presence of inactive, chronic infections (e.g. herpes zoster, tuberculosis, hepatitis B or C) for reasons of eventual activation. Vaccination using live vaccines must not be carried out under methotrexate therapy.
Malignant lymphomas may occur in patients receiving low dose methotrexate, in which case therapy must be discontinued. Failure of the lymphoma to show signs of spontaneous regression requires the initiation of cytotoxic therapy.
Concomitant administration of folate antagonists such as trimethoprim/sulphamethoxazole has been reported to cause an acute megaloblastic pancytopenia in rare instances.
Radiation-induced dermatitis and sun-burn can reappear under methotrexate therapy (recall-reaction). Psoriatic lesions can exacerbate during UV-irradiation and simultaneous administration of methotrexate.
Methotrexate elimination is reduced in patients with a third distribution space (ascites, pleural effusions). Such patients require especially careful monitoring for toxicity, and require dose reduction or, in some cases, discontinuation of methotrexate administration. Pleural effusions and ascites should be drained prior to initiation of methotrexate treatment.
Diarrhoea and ulcerative stomatitis can be toxic effects and require interruption of therapy, otherwise haemorrhagic enteritis and death from intestinal perforation may occur.
Vitamin preparations or other products containing folic acid, folinic acid or their derivatives may decrease the effectiveness of methotrexate.
For the treatment of psoriasis, methotrexate should be restricted to severe recalcitrant, disabling psoriasis which is not adequately responsive to other forms of therapy, but only when the diagnosis has been established by biopsy and/or after dermatological consultation.
Encephalopathy / leukoencephalopathy have been reported in oncologic patients receiving methotrexate therapy and cannot be excluded for methotrexate therapy in non-oncologic indications.
The absence of pregnancy should be confirmed before Alltrex PEN is administered. Methotrexate causes embryotoxicity, abortion and foetal defects in humans. Methotrexate affects spermatogenesis and oogenesis during the period of its administration which may result in decreased fertility. These effects appear to be reversible on discontinuing therapy. Effective contraception in men and women should be performed during treatment and for at least six months thereafter. The possible risks of effects on reproduction should be discussed with patients of childbearing potential and their partners should be advised appropriately.
This medicinal product contains less than 1 mmol sodium (23 mg) per dose, i.e. essentially â€œsodium-freeâ€.
Use in children < 3 years of age is not recommended as insufficient data on efficacy and safety is available for this population.
Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.
Organ System Toxicity
Alltrex should be used only by physicians whose knowledge and experience include the use of antimetabolite therapy. Because of the possibility of serious toxic reactions (which can be fatal), Alltrex should be used only in patients with psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis with severe, recalcitrant, disabling disease which is not adequately responsive to other forms of therapy.
Deaths have been reported with the use of methotrexate in the treatment of malignancy, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Patients should be closely monitored for bone marrow, liver, lung and kidney toxicities.
Alltrex has the potential for serious toxicity. Toxic effects may be related in frequency and severity to dose or frequency of administration but have been seen at all doses. Because they can occur at any time during therapy, it is necessary to follow patients on Alltrex closely. Most adverse reactions are reversible if detected early. When such reactions do occur, the drug should be reduced in dosage or discontinued and appropriate corrective measures should be taken. If necessary, this could include the use of leucovorin calcium and/or acute, intermittent hemodialysis with a high-flux dialyzer. If Alltrex therapy is reinstituted, it should be carried out with caution, with adequate consideration of further need for the drug and increased alertness as to possible recurrence of toxicity. The clinical pharmacology of methotrexate has not been well studied in older individuals. Due to diminished hepatic and renal function as well as decreased folate stores in this population, relatively low doses should be considered, and these patients should be closely monitored for early signs of toxicity.
Diarrhea and ulcerative stomatitis require interruption of therapy: otherwise, hemorrhagic enteritis and death from intestinal perforation may occur.
If vomiting, diarrhea, or stomatitis occur, which may result in dehydration, Alltrex should be discontinued until recovery occurs. Alltrex should be used with extreme caution in the presence of peptic ulcer disease or ulcerative colitis.
Unexpectedly severe (sometimes fatal) gastrointestinal toxicity has been reported with concomitant administration of methotrexate (usually in high dosage) along with some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Alltrex can suppress hematopoiesis and cause anemia, aplastic anemia, pancytopenia, leukopenia, neutropenia, and/or thrombocytopenia. In patients with preexisting hematopoietic impairment, Alltrex should be used with caution, if at all. In controlled clinical trials conducted with another formulation of methotrexate in rheumatoid arthritis (n=128), leukopenia (WBC < 3000/mm³) was seen in 2 patients, thrombocytopenia (platelets < 100,000/mm³) in 6 patients, and pancytopenia in 2 patients.
Alltrex should be stopped immediately if there is a significant drop in blood counts. Patients with profound granulocytopenia and fever should be evaluated immediately and usually require parenteral broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy.
Unexpectedly severe (sometimes fatal) bone marrow suppression and aplastic anemia have been reported with concomitant administration of methotrexate (usually in high dosage) along with some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Alltrex has the potential for acute (elevated transaminases) and chronic (fibrosis and cirrhosis) hepatotoxicity. Chronic toxicity is potentially fatal; it generally has occurred after prolonged use (generally two years or more) and after a total dose of at least 1.5 grams. In studies in psoriatic patients, hepatotoxicity appeared to be a function of total cumulative dose and appeared to be enhanced by alcoholism, obesity, diabetes and advanced age. An accurate incidence rate has not been determined; the rate of progression and reversibility of lesions is not known. Special caution is indicated in the presence of preexisting liver damage or impaired hepatic function.
In psoriasis, liver function tests, including serum albumin, should be performed periodically prior to dosing but are often normal in the face of developing fibrosis or cirrhosis. These lesions may be detectable only by biopsy. The usual recommendation is to obtain a liver biopsy at 1) pretherapy or shortly after initiation of therapy (2 to 4 months), 2) a total cumulative dose of 1.5 grams, and 3) after each additional 1.0 to 1.5 grams. Moderate fibrosis or any cirrhosis normally leads to discontinuation of the drug; mild fibrosis normally suggests a repeat biopsy in 6 months.
Milder histologic findings such as fatty change and low grade portal inflammation are relatively common pretherapy. Although these mild changes are usually not a reason to avoid or discontinue Alltrex therapy, the drug should be used with caution.
In rheumatoid arthritis, age at first use of methotrexate and duration of therapy have been reported as risk factors for hepatotoxicity; other risk factors, similar to those observed in psoriasis, may be present in rheumatoid arthritis but have not been confirmed to date. Persistent abnormalities in liver function tests may precede appearance of fibrosis or cirrhosis in this population. There is a combined reported experience in 217 rheumatoid arthritis patients with liver biopsies both before and during treatment (after a cumulative dose of at least 1.5 g) and in 714 patients with a biopsy only during treatment. There are 64 (7%) cases of fibrosis and 1 (0.1%) case of cirrhosis. Of the 64 cases of fibrosis, 60 were deemed mild. The reticulin stain is more sensitive for early fibrosis and its use may increase these figures. It is unknown whether even longer use will increase these risks.
Liver function tests should be performed at baseline and at 4 to 8 week intervals in patients receiving Alltrex for rheumatoid arthritis. Pretreatment liver biopsy should be performed for patients with a history of excessive alcohol consumption, persistently abnormal baseline liver function test values or chronic hepatitis B or C infection. During therapy, liver biopsy should be performed if there are persistent liver function test abnormalities or there is a decrease in serum albumin below the normal range (in the setting of well controlled rheumatoid arthritis).
If the results of a liver biopsy show mild changes (Roenigk, grades I, II, IIIa), Alltrex may be continued and the patient monitored as per recommendations listed above. Alltrex should be discontinued in any patient who displays persistently abnormal liver function tests and refuses liver biopsy or in any patient whose liver biopsy shows moderate to severe changes (Roenigk grade IIIb or IV).
Infection or Immunologic States
Alltrex should be used with extreme caution in the presence of active infection, and is contraindicated in patients with overt or laboratory evidence of immunodeficiency syndromes.
Immunization may be ineffective when given during Alltrex therapy. Immunization with live virus vaccines is generally not recommended. There have been reports of disseminated vaccinia infections after smallpox immunizations in patients receiving methotrexate therapy. Hypogammaglobulinemia has been reported rarely. Potentially fatal opportunistic infections, especially Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia, may occur with Alltrex therapy. When a patient presents with pulmonary symptoms, the possibility of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia should be considered.
There have been reports of leukoencephalopathy following intravenous administration of methotrexate to patients who have had craniospinal irradiation. Serious neurotoxicity, frequently manifested as generalized or focal seizures, has been reported with unexpectedly increased frequency among pediatric patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who were treated with intermediate-dose intravenous methotrexate (1 gm/m²). Symptomatic patients were commonly noted to have leukoencephalopathy and/or microangiopathic calcifications on diagnostic imaging studies. Chronic leukoencephalopathy has also been reported in patients who received repeated doses of high-dose methotrexate with leucovorin rescue even without cranial irradiation.
Discontinuation of methotrexate does not always result in complete recovery. A transient acute neurologic syndrome has been observed in patients treated with high dose regimens. Manifestations of this stroke-like encephalopathy may include confusion, hemiparesis, transient blindness, seizures and coma. The exact cause is unknown. After the intrathecal use of methotrexate, the central nervous system toxicity which may occur can be classified as follows: acute chemical arachnoiditis manifested by such symptoms as headache, back pain, nuchal rigidity, and fever; sub-acute myelopathy characterized by paraparesis/paraplegia associated with involvement with one or more spinal nerve roots; chronic leukoencephalopathy manifested by confusion, irritability, somnolence, ataxia, dementia, seizures and coma. This condition can be progressive and even fatal.
Methotrexate-induced lung disease, including acute or chronic interstitial pneumonitis, is a potentially dangerous lesion, which may occur acutely at any time during therapy and has been reported at low doses. It is not always fully reversible and fatalities have been reported.
Pulmonary symptoms (especially a dry nonproductive cough) or a non-specific pneumonitis occurring during Alltrex therapy may be indicative of a potentially dangerous lesion and require interruption of treatment and careful investigation. Although clinically variable, the typical patient with methotrexate induced lung disease presents with fever, cough, dyspnea, hypoxemia, and an infiltrate on chest X-ray; infection (including pneumonia) needs to be excluded. This lesion can occur at all dosages.
Alltrex may cause renal damage that may lead to acute renal failure. High doses of methotrexate used in the treatment of osteosarcoma may cause renal damage leading to acute renal failure. Nephrotoxicity is due primarily to the precipitation of methotrexate and 7-hydroxymethotrexate in the renal tubules. Close attention to renal function including adequate hydration, urine alkalinization and measurement of serum methotrexate and creatinine levels are essential for safe administration.
Severe, occasionally fatal, dermatologic reactions, including toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, exfoliative dermatitis, skin necrosis, and erythema multiforme, have been reported in children and adults, within days of oral, intramuscular, intravenous, or intrathecal methotrexate administration. Reactions were noted after single or multiple low, intermediate, or high doses of methotrexate in patients with neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases.
Lesions of psoriasis may be aggravated by concomitant exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Radiation dermatitis and sunburn may be “recalled” by the use of methotrexate.
Alltrex should be used with extreme caution in the presence of debility.
Methotrexate exits slowly from third space compartments (e. g. , pleural effusions or ascites). This results in a prolonged terminal plasma half-life and unexpected toxicity. In patients with significant third space accumulations, it is advisable to evacuate the fluid before treatment and to monitor plasma methotrexate levels.
Methotrexate has been reported to cause fetal death and/or congenital anomalies. Therefore, Alltrex is not recommended for females of childbearing potential unless there is clear medical evidence that the benefits can be expected to outweigh the considered risks. Alltrex is contraindicated in pregnant women with psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Females of childbearing potential should not be started on Alltrex until pregnancy is excluded and should be fully counseled on the serious risk to the fetus should they become pregnant while undergoing treatment. Appropriate steps should be taken to avoid conception during Alltrex therapy. Pregnancy should be avoided if either partner is receiving Alltrex; during and for a minimum of three months after therapy for male patients, and during and for at least one ovulatory cycle after therapy for female patients.
Effects On Reproduction
Methotrexate has been reported to cause impairment of fertility, oligospermia and menstrual dysfunction in humans, during and for a short period after cessation of therapy. The risk of effects of reproduction should be discussed with both male and female patients taking Alltrex.
Patients undergoing Alltrex therapy should be closely monitored so that toxic effects are detected promptly. Baseline assessment should include a complete blood count with differential and platelet counts, hepatic enzymes, renal function tests and a chest X-ray.
During therapy, monitoring of these parameters is recommended: hematology at least monthly, renal function and liver function every 1 to 2 months.
During initial or changing doses, or during periods of increased risk of elevated methotrexate blood levels (e. g. , dehydration), more frequent monitoring may also be indicated.
Liver Function Tests
Transient liver function test abnormalities are observed frequently after methotrexate administration and are usually not cause for modification of methotrexate therapy. Persistent liver function test abnormalities, and/or depression of serum albumin may be indicators of serious liver toxicity and require evaluation.
A relationship between abnormal liver function tests and fibrosis or cirrhosis of the liver has not been established for patients with psoriasis. Persistent abnormalities in liver function tests may precede appearance of fibrosis or cirrhosis in the rheumatoid arthritis population.
Pulmonary Function Tests
Pulmonary function tests may be useful if methotrexate-induced lung disease is suspected, especially if baseline measurements are available.
Risks From Improper Dosing
Both the physician and pharmacist should emphasize to the patient that Alltrex is administered once weekly and that mistaken daily use has led to fatal toxicity.
Patients With Impaired Renal Function, Ascites, Or Pleural Effusions
Methotrexate elimination is reduced in patients with impaired renal function, ascites, or pleural effusions. Such patients require especially careful monitoring for toxicity and require dose reduction or, in some cases, discontinuation of Alltrex administration.
Dizziness And Fatigue
Adverse reactions, such as dizziness and fatigue, may affect the ability to drive or operate machinery.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other tumors have been reported in patients receiving low-dose oral methotrexate. However, there have been instances of malignant lymphoma arising during treatment with low-dose oral methotrexate, which have regressed completely following withdrawal of methotrexate, without requiring active anti-lymphoma treatment. Discontinue Alltrex first and, if the lymphoma does not regress, appropriate treatment should be instituted.
Tumor Lysis Syndrome
Like other cytotoxic drugs, methotrexate may induce “tumor lysis syndrome” in patients with rapidly growing tumors.
Concomitant Radiation Therapy
Methotrexate given concomitantly with radiotherapy may increase the risk of soft tissue necrosis and osteonecrosis.
Patient Counseling Information
See FDA-approved patient labeling (Patient Information and Instructions for Use)
Risk of Organ Toxicity
Inform patients of the risks of organ toxicity, including gastrointestinal, hematologic, hepatic, infections, neurologic, pulmonary, renal and skin as well as possible signs and symptoms for which they should contact their healthcare provider. Advise patients of the need for close follow-up, including periodic laboratory tests to monitor toxicity.
Importance of Proper Dosing and Administration
Both the physician and pharmacist should emphasize to the patient that the recommended dose is taken once weekly and that mistaken daily use of the recommended dose has led to fatal toxicity. Alltrex is intended for use under the guidance and supervision of a physician. Patients should not self-administer until they receive training from a healthcare professional. The patient's or caregiver's ability to administer Alltrex should be assessed.
Patients should be instructed to use administration sites on the abdomen or the thigh. Administration should not be made within 2 inches of the navel. Instruct patients not to administer Alltrex to the arms or any other areas of the body, as delineated in the Alltrex Instructions for Use.
Risks of Pregnancy and Reproduction
Advise patients that Alltrex can cause fetal harm and is contraindicated in pregnancy. Advise women of childbearing potential that Alltrex should not be started until pregnancy is excluded. Women should be fully counseled on the serious risk to the fetus should they become pregnant while undergoing treatment. Inform patients to contact their physician if they suspect that they are pregnant.
Advise patients that pregnancy should be avoided if either partner is receiving Alltrex; during and for a minimum of three months after therapy for male patients, and during and for at least one ovulatory cycle after therapy for female patients.
Discuss the risk of effects on reproduction with both male and female patients taking Alltrex.
Inform patients that methotrexate has been reported to cause impairment of fertility, oligospermia and menstrual dysfunction, during and for a short period after cessation of therapy.
Inform patients that Alltrex is contraindicated in nursing mothers.
Ability to Drive or Operate Machinery
Inform patients that adverse reactions such as dizziness and fatigue may affect their ability to drive or operate machinery.
Proper Storage and Disposal
Advise patients to store Alltrex at room temperature (68 to 77°F or 20 to 25°C). Inform patients and caregivers of the need for proper disposal after use, including the use of a sharps disposal container.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
Methotrexate has been evaluated in a number of animal studies for carcinogenic potential with inconclusive results. Although there is evidence that methotrexate causes chromosomal damage to animal somatic cells and human bone marrow cells, the clinical significance remains uncertain.
Data are available regarding the risks for pregnancy and for fertility in humans.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category X
Methotrexate has been reported to cause embryotoxicity, fetal death, congenital anomalies, and abortion in humans and is contraindicated in pregnant women.
Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions from methotrexate in breast fed infants, methotrexate is contraindicated in nursing mothers. Therefore, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.
Methotrexate has been detected in human breast milk. The highest breast milk to plasma concentration ratio reached was 0.08:1.
The safety and effectiveness of methotrexate, including Alltrex, have not been established in pediatric patients with psoriasis.
The safety and effectiveness of Alltrex have not been established in pediatric patients with neoplastic diseases. The safety and effectiveness of methotrexate have been established in pediatric patients with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Published clinical studies evaluating the use of methotrexate in children and adolescents (i. e. , patients 2 to 16 years of age) with pJIA demonstrated safety comparable to that observed in adults with rheumatoid arthritis.
Alltrex does not contain a preservative. However, methotrexate injectable formulations containing the preservative benzyl alcohol are not recommended for use in neonates. There have been reports of fatal 'gasping syndrome' in neonates (children less than one month of age) following the administrations of intravenous solutions containing the preservative benzyl alcohol. Symptoms include a striking onset of gasping respiration, hypotension, bradycardia, and cardiovascular collapse.
Serious neurotoxicity, frequently manifested as generalized or focal seizures, has been reported with unexpectedly increased frequency among pediatric patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who were treated with intermediate-dose intravenous methotrexate (1 gm/m²).
Clinical studies of methotrexate did not include sufficient numbers of subjects age 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic and renal function, decreased folate stores, concomitant disease or other drug therapy (i. e. , that interfere with renal function, methotrexate or folate metabolism) in this population. Since decline in renal function may be associated with increases in adverse reactions and serum creatinine measurements may over estimate renal function in the elderly, more accurate methods (i. e. , creatinine clearance) should be considered. Serum methotrexate levels may also be helpful. Elderly patients should be closely monitored for early signs of hepatic, bone marrow and renal toxicity. In chronic use situations, certain toxicities may be reduced by folate supplementation.
Post-marketing experience suggests that the occurrence of bone marrow suppression, thrombocytopenia, and pneumonitis may increase with age.
Females And Males Of Reproductive Potential
Alltrex is not recommended for females of childbearing potential unless there is clear medical evidence that the benefits can be expected to outweigh the considered risks. Females of childbearing potential should not be started on methotrexate until pregnancy is excluded and should be fully counseled on the serious risk to the fetus should they become pregnant while undergoing treatment.
Appropriate steps should be taken to avoid conception during Alltrex therapy. Pregnancy should be avoided if either partner is receiving methotrexate; during and for a minimum of three months after therapy for male patients, and during and for at least one ovulatory cycle after therapy for female patients.
Methotrexate has been reported to cause impairment of fertility, oligospermia and menstrual dysfunction in humans, during and for a short period after cessation of therapy.
Methotrexate elimination is reduced in patients with impaired renal function. Such patients require especially careful monitoring for toxicity and require dose reduction or, in some cases, discontinuation of Alltrex administration.
The effect of hepatic impairment on methotrexate pharmacokinetics has not been studied. Alltrex is contraindicated in patients with alcoholic liver disease or other chronic liver disease. Patients with obesity, diabetes, hepatic fibrosis or steatohepatitis are at increased risk for hepatic injury and fibrosis secondary to methotrexate, and should be monitored closely.
Central nervous system symptoms, such as fatigue and dizziness, can occur during treatment with Alltrex which have minor or moderate influence on the ability to drive and use machines.
Central nervous symptoms such as tiredness and dizziness can occur during treatment, Alltrex PEN has minor or moderate influence on the ability to drive and use machines.
The most common adverse reactions include ulcerative stomatitis, leukopenia, vasculitis, eye-irritation and loss of libido/impotence, nausea and abdominal distress. Although very rare, anaphylactic reactions to Alltrex have occurred. Others reported are malaise, undue fatigue, chills and fever, dizziness and decreased resistance to infection. In general, the incidence and severity of side effects are considered to be dose-related. Adverse reactions as reported for the various systems are as follows:
Skin: Severe, occasionally fatal, dermatologic reactions including erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, skin necrosis, exfoliative dermatitis, epidermal necrolysis.). Acute pulmonary oedema has also been reported after oral and intrathecal use. Pulmonary fibrosis is rare. A syndrome consisting of pleuritic pain and pleural thickening has been reported following high doses.
Central Nervous System: Headaches, drowsiness, blurred vision, aphasia cognitive disorder, unusual cranial sensations, hemiparesis and convulsions have occurred possibly related to haemorrhage or to complications from intra-arterial catheterization. Convulsion, paresis, Guillain-Barre syndrome and increased cerebrospinal fluid pressure have followed intrathecal administration.
Other reactions related to, or attributed to the use of Alltrex such as pneumonitis, metabolic changes, precipitation of diabetes, osteoporotic effects, abnormal changes in tissue cells and even sudden death have been reported.
There have been reports of leukoencephalopathy following intravenous Alltrex in high doses, or low doses following cranial-spinal radiation.
Cardiac disorders: Pericarditis, pericardial effusion
Ear disorders: Tinnitus
Eye disorders: Conjunctivitis
Infections and infestations: Opportunistic infections (sometimes fatal e.g. fatal sepsis) have also been reported in patients receiving Alltrex therapy for neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia being the most common. Other reported infections include, pneumonia, nocardiosis, histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, Herpes Zoster, Herpes Simplex, disseminated Herpes Simplex, hepatitis and cytomegalovirus infection, including cytomegaloviral pneumonia.
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders: Arthralgia/myalgia
Psychiatric disorders: Mood altered
Vascular disorders: Hypotension, thromboembolic events (e.g. thrombophlebitis, pulmonary embolism, arterial, cerebral, deep vein or retinal vein thrombosis).
Adverse reactions following intrathecal Alltrex are generally classified into three groups, acute, subacute, and chronic. The acute form is a chemical arachnoiditis manifested by headache, back or shoulder pain, nuchal rigidity, and fever. The subacute form may include paresis, usually transient, paraplegia, nerve palsies, and cerebellar dysfunction. The chronic form is a leukoencephalopathy manifested by irritability, confusion, ataxia, spasticity, occasionally convulsions, dementia, somnolence, coma, and rarely, death. There is evidence that the combined use of cranial radiation and intrathecal Alltrex increases the incidence of leukoencephalopathy.
Additional reactions related to or attributed to the use of Alltrex such as osteoporosis, abnormal (usually 'megaloblastic') red cell morphology, precipitation of diabetes, other metabolic changes, and sudden death have been reported.
A small number of cases of accelerated nodulosis have been reported in the literature it is unclear whether the development of accelerated nodulosis during Alltrex therapy is a drug-related side effect or is part of the natural history of the rheumatoid disease.
Reporting of suspected adverse reactions
Reporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via:
Yellow Card Scheme
Summary of the safety profile
Most serious adverse reactions of methotrexate include bone marrow suppression, pulmonary toxicity, hepatotoxicity, renal toxicity, neurotoxicity, thromboembolic events, anaphylactic shock and Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
Most frequently (very common) observed adverse reactions of methotrexate include gastrointestinal disorders e.g. stomatitis, dyspepsia, abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite and abnormal liver function tests e.g. increased ALAT, ASAT, bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase. Other frequently (common) occurring adverse reactions are leukopenia, anaemia, thrombopenia, headache, tiredness, drowsiness, pneumonia, interstitial alveolitis/pneumonitis often associated with eosinophilia, oral ulcers, diarrhoea, exanthema, erythema and pruritus.
Tabulated list of adverse reactions
The most relevant undesirable effects are suppression of the haematopoietic system and gastrointestinal disorders.
The following headings are used to organise the undesirable effects in order of frequency:
Very common (> 1/10), common (> 1/100 to < 1/10), uncommon (> 1/1,000 to < 1/100), rare (> 1/10,000 to < 1/1,000), very rare (< 1/10,000), not known (cannot be estimated from the available data)
Infections and infestations
Rare: Infection (incl. reactivation of inactive chronic infection), sepsis, conjunctivitis.
Neoplasms benign, malignant and unspecified (including cysts and polyps)
Very rare: There have been reports of individual cases of lymphoma which subsided in a number of cases once treatment with methotrexate had been discontinued. In a recent study, it could not be established that methotrexate therapy increases the incidence of lymphomas.
Blood and lymphatic system disorders
Common: Leukopenia, anaemia, thrombopenia.
Very rare: Agranulocytosis, severe courses of bone marrow depression.
Not known: Eosinophilia
Immune system disorders
Rare: Allergic reactions, anaphylactic shock, hypogammaglobulinaemia.
Metabolism and nutrition disorders
Uncommon: Precipitation of diabetes mellitus.
Uncommon: Depression, confusion.
Rare: Mood alterations.
Nervous system disorders
Common: Headache, tiredness, drowsiness.
Very rare: Pain, muscular asthenia or paraesthesia in the extremities, changes in sense of taste (metallic taste), convulsions, meningism, acute aseptic meningitis, paralysis.
Not known: Encephalopathy/leukoencephalopathy.
Rare: Visual disturbances.
Very rare: Impaired vision, Retinopathy.
Rare: Pericarditis, pericardial effusion, pericardial tamponade.
Rare: Hypotension, thromboembolic events.
Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders
Common: Pneumonia, interstitial alveolitis/pneumonitis often associated with eosinophilia. Symptoms indicating potentially severe lung injury (interstitial pneumonitis) are: dry, not productive cough, short of breath and fever.
Rare: Pulmonary fibrosis, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, shortness of breath and bronchial asthma, pleural effusion.
Not known: Epistaxis.
Very common: Stomatitis, dyspepsia, nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain.
Common: Oral ulcers, diarrhoea.
Uncommon: Gastrointestinal ulcers and bleeding, enteritis, vomiting, pancreatitis.
Very rare: Haematemesis, haematorrhea, toxic megacolon.
Very common: Abnormal liver function tests (increased ALAT, ASAT, alkaline phosphatase and bilirubin).
Uncommon: Cirrhosis, fibrosis and fatty degeneration of the liver, decrease in serum albumin.
Rare: Acute hepatitis.
Very rare: Hepatic failure.
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders
Common: Exanthema, erythema, pruritus.
Uncommon: Photosensitisation, loss of hair, increase in rheumatic nodules, herpes zoster, vasculitis, herpetiform eruptions of the skin, urticaria.
Rare: Increased pigmentation, acne, petechiae, ecchymosis, allergic vasculitis.
Very rare: Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis (Lyell's syndrome), increased pigmentary changes of the nails, acute paronychia, furunculosis, telangiectasia.
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders
Uncommon: Arthralgia, myalgia, osteoporosis.
Rare: Stress fracture.
Renal and urinary disorders
Uncommon: Inflammation and ulceration of the urinary bladder, renal impairment, disturbed micturition.
Rare: Renal failure, oliguria, anuria, electrolyte disturbances.
Not known: Proteinuria.
Reproductive system and breast disorders
Uncommon: Inflammation and ulceration of the vagina.
Very rare: Loss of libido, impotence, gynaecomastia, oligospermia, impaired menstruation, vaginal discharge.
General disorders and administration site conditions
Rare: Fever, wound-healing impairment.
Not known: Asthenia.
The appearance and degree of severity of undesirable effects depends on the dosage level and the frequency of administration. However, as severe undesirable effects can occur even at lower doses, it is indispensable that patients are monitored regularly by the doctor at short intervals.
Subcutaneous application of methotrexate is locally well tolerated. Only mild local skin reactions (such as burning sensations, erythema, swelling, discolouration, pruritus, severe itching, pain) were observed, decreasing during therapy.
Reporting of suspected adverse reactions
Reporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme at: www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard.
The following adverse reactions are discussed in more detail in other sections of the labeling.
- Organ System Toxicity
- Embryo-Fetal Toxicity
- Effects on Reproduction
- Malignant Lymphomas
The most frequently reported adverse reactions include ulcerative stomatitis, leukopenia, nausea, and abdominal distress. Other frequently reported adverse reactions are malaise, undue fatigue, chills and fever, dizziness and decreased resistance to infection.
Clinical Trials Experience
This section provides a summary of adverse reactions reported in subjects in clinical studies conducted with Alltrex as well as with methotrexate injection and oral methotrexate. 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 approximate incidences of methotrexate-attributed (i. e. placebo rate subtracted) adverse reactions in 12 to 18 week double-blind studies of patients (n=128) with rheumatoid arthritis treated with low-dose oral (7.5 to 15 mg/week) pulse methotrexate, are listed below. Virtually all of these patients were on concomitant nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and some were also taking low dosages of corticosteroids. Hepatic histology was not examined in these short-term studies.
Incidence greater than 10%: Elevated liver function tests 15%, nausea/vomiting 10%. Incidence 3% to 10%:
Stomatitis, thrombocytopenia (platelet count less than 100,000/mm³).
Incidence 1% to 3%: Rash/pruritis/dermatitis, diarrhea, alopecia, leukopenia (WBC less than 3000/mm³), pancytopenia, dizziness.
Two other controlled trials of patients (n=680) with Rheumatoid Arthritis on 7.5 mg to 15 mg/wk oral doses showed an incidence of interstitial pneumonitis of 1%.
Other less common reactions included decreased hematocrit, headache, upper respiratory infection, anorexia, arthralgias, chest pain, coughing, dysuria, eye discomfort, epistaxis, fever, infection, sweating, tinnitus, and vaginal discharge.
Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
The approximate incidences of adverse reactions reported in pediatric patients with pJIA treated with oral, weekly doses of methotrexate (5 to 20 mg/m²/wk or 0.1 to 0.65 mg/kg/wk) were as follows (virtually all patients were receiving concomitant nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and some also were taking low doses of corticosteroids): elevated liver function tests, 14%; gastrointestinal reactions (e. g. , nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), 11%; stomatitis, 2%; leukopenia, 2%; headache, 1.2%; alopecia, 0.5%; dizziness, 0.2%; and rash, 0.2%. Although there is experience with dosing up to 30 mg/m²/wk in pJIA, the published data for doses above 20 mg/m²/wk are too limited to provide reliable estimates of adverse reaction rates.
There are two literature reports (Roenigk, 1969, and Nyfors, 1978) describing large series (n=204, 248) of psoriasis patients treated with methotrexate. Dosages ranged up to 25 mg per week and treatment was administered for up to four years. With the exception of alopecia, photosensitivity, and “burning of skin lesions” (each 3% to 10%), the adverse reaction rates in these reports were very similar to those in the rheumatoid arthritis studies. Rarely, painful plaque erosions may appear (Pearce, HP and Wilson, BB: Am Acad Dermatol 35: 835-838, 1996).
Other Adverse Reactions
Other adverse reactions that have been reported with methotrexate in oncology, RA, pJIA, and psoriasis patients are listed below by organ system.
Alimentary System: gingivitis, pharyngitis, stomatitis, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hematemesis, melena, gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding, enteritis, pancreatitis.
Blood and Lymphatic System Disorders: suppressed hematopoiesis, anemia, aplastic anemia, pancytopenia, leukopenia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, agranulocytosis, eosinophilia, lymphadenopathy and lymphoproliferative disorders (including reversible). Hypogammaglobulinemia has been reported rarely.
Cardiovascular: pericarditis, pericardial effusion, hypotension, and thromboembolic events (including arterial thrombosis, cerebral thrombosis, deep vein thrombosis, retinal vein thrombosis, thrombophlebitis, and pulmonary embolus).
Central Nervous System: headaches, drowsiness, blurred vision, transient blindness, speech impairment including dysarthria and aphasia, hemiparesis, paresis and convulsions have also occurred following administration of methotrexate. Following low doses, there have been occasional reports of transient subtle cognitive dysfunction, mood alteration or unusual cranial sensations, leukoencephalopathy, or encephalopathy.
Hepatobiliary Disorders: hepatotoxicity, acute hepatitis, chronic fibrosis and cirrhosis, hepatic failure, decrease in serum albumin, liver enzyme elevations.
Infection: There have been case reports of sometimes fatal opportunistic infections in patients receiving methotrexate therapy for neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases. Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia was the most common opportunistic infection. There have also been reports of infections, pneumonia, Cytomegalovirus infection, including cytomegaloviral pneumonia, sepsis, fatal sepsis, nocardiosis, histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, Herpes zoster, Herpes simplex hepatitis, and disseminated Herpes simplex.
Musculoskeletal System: stress fracture.
Ophthalmic: conjunctivitis, serious visual changes of unknown etiology.
Pulmonary System: respiratory fibrosis, respiratory failure, alveolitis, interstitial pneumonitis deaths have been reported, and chronic interstitial obstructive pulmonary disease has occasionally occurred.
Skin: erythematous rashes, pruritus, urticaria, photosensitivity, pigmentary changes, alopecia, ecchymosis, telangiectasia, acne, furunculosis, erythema multiforme, toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, skin necrosis, skin ulceration and exfoliative dermatitis.
Urogenital System: severe nephropathy or renal failure, azotemia, cystitis, hematuria, proteinuria; defective oogenesis or spermatogenesis, transient oligospermia, menstrual dysfunction, vaginal discharge, and gynecomastia; infertility, abortion, fetal death, fetal defects.
Other rarer reactions related to or attributed to the use of methotrexate such as nodulosis, vasculitis, arthralgia/myalgia, loss of libido/impotence, diabetes, osteoporosis, sudden death, lymphoma, including reversible lymphomas, tumor lysis syndrome, soft tissue necrosis and osteonecrosis. Anaphylactoid reactions have been reported.
Cases of overdose, sometimes fatal, due to erroneous daily intake instead of weekly intake of oral Alltrex have been reported. In these cases, symptoms that have been commonly reported are haematological and gastrointestinal reactions.
Calcium folinate (Calcium Leucovorin) is a potent agent for neutralizing the immediate toxic effects of Alltrex on the haematopoietic system. It may be administered orally, intramuscularly or by an intravenous bolus injection or infusion. Where large doses or overdoses are given, calcium folinate may be administered by intravenous infusion in doses up to 75 mg within 12 hours, followed by 12 mg intramuscularly every 6 hours for 4 doses. Where average doses of Alltrex appear to have an adverse effect 6-12 mg of calcium folinate may be given intramuscularly every 6 hours for 4 doses. In general, where overdosage is suspected, the dose of calcium folinate should be equal to or higher than, the offending dose of Alltrex and should be administered as soon as possible; preferably within the first hour and dosing continued until the serum levels of Alltrex are below 10-7M.
Other supporting therapy such as blood transfusion and renal dialysis may be required. In cases of massive overdose, hydration and urinary alkalisation may be necessary to prevent precipitation of Alltrex and/or its metabolites in the renal tubules. Neither haemodialysis nor peritoneal dialysis has been shown to improve Alltrex elimination. Effective clearance of Alltrex has been reported with acute, intermittent haemodialysis using a high flux dialyser.
a) Symptoms of overdose
Toxicity of methotrexate mainly affects the haematopoietic system.
b) Treatment measures in the case of overdose
Calcium folinate is the specific antidote for neutralising the toxic undesirable effects of methotrexate.
In cases of accidental overdose, a dose of calcium folinate equal to or higher than the offending dose of methotrexate should be administered intravenously or intramuscularly within one hour and dosing continued until the serum levels of methotrexate are below 10-7 mol/l.
In cases of massive overdose, hydration and urinary alkalisation may be necessary to prevent precipitation of methotrexate and/or its metabolites in the renal tubules. Neither haemodialysis nor peritoneal dialysis has been shown to improve methotrexate elimination. Effective clearance of methotrexate has been reported with acute, intermittent haemodialysis using a high flux dialyser.
Leucovorin is indicated to diminish the toxicity and counteract the effect of inadvertently administered overdosages of methotrexate. Leucovorin administration should begin as promptly as possible. As the time interval between methotrexate administration and leucovorin initiation increases, the effectiveness of leucovorin in counteracting toxicity decreases. Monitoring of the serum methotrexate concentration is essential in determining the optimal dose and duration of treatment with leucovorin.
In cases of massive overdosage, hydration and urinary alkalinization may be necessary to prevent the precipitation of methotrexate and/or its metabolites in the renal tubules. Generally speaking, neither hemodialysis nor peritoneal dialysis has been shown to improve methotrexate elimination. However, effective clearance of methotrexate has been reported with acute, intermittent hemodialysis using a high-flux dialyzer (Wall, SM et al: Am J Kidney Dis 28 (6): 846-854, 1996).
Accidental intrathecal overdosage may require intensive systemic support, high-dose systemic leucovorin, alkaline diuresis and rapid CSF drainage and ventriculolumbar perfusion. In postmarketing experience, overdose with methotrexate has generally occurred with oral and intrathecal administration, although intravenous and intramuscular overdose have also been reported.
Reports of oral overdose often indicate accidental daily administration instead of weekly (single or divided doses). Symptoms commonly reported following oral overdose include those symptoms and signs reported at pharmacologic doses, particularly hematologic and gastrointestinal reaction. For example, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, anemia, pancytopenia, bone marrow suppression, mucositis, stomatitis, oral ulceration, nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal ulceration, gastrointestinal bleeding. In some cases, no symptoms were reported.
There have been reports of death following overdose. In these cases, events such as sepsis or septic shock, renal failure, and aplastic anemia were also reported.
Symptoms of intrathecal overdose are generally central nervous system (CNS) symptoms, including headache, nausea and vomiting, seizure or convulsion, and acute toxic encephalopathy. In some cases, no symptoms were reported. There have been reports of death following intrathecal overdose. In these cases, cerebellar herniation associated with increased intracranial pressure, and acute toxic encephalopathy have also been reported.
There are published case reports of intravenous and intrathecal carboxypeptidase G2 treatment to hasten clearance of methotrexate in cases of overdose.
Pharmacotherapeutic group: Other immunosuppressive agents, ATC code: L04AX03
Alltrex is an antimetabolite which acts principally by competitively inhibiting the enzyme, dihydrofolate reductase. In the process of DNA synthesis and cellular replication, folic acid must be reduced to tetrahydrofolic acid by this enzyme, and inhibition by Alltrex interferes with tissue cell reproduction. Actively proliferating tissues such as malignant cells are generally more sensitive to this effect of Alltrex. It also inhibits antibody synthesis.
Alltrex also has immunosuppressive activity, in part possibly as a result of inhibition of lymphocyte multiplication. The mechanism(s) of action in the management of rheumatoid arthritis of the drug is not known, although suggested mechanisms have included immunosuppressive and/or anti-inflammatory effect.
Pharmacotherapeutic group: Folic acid analogues
ATC code: L01BA01
Antirheumatic medicinal product for the treatment of chronic, inflammatory rheumatic diseases and polyarthritic forms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Immunomodulating and anti-inflammatory agent for the treatment of Crohn's disease.
Mechanism of action
Methotrexate is a folic acid antagonist which belongs to the class of cytotoxic agents known as antimetabolites. It acts by the competitive inhibition of the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase and thus inhibits DNA synthesis. It has not yet been clarified, as to whether the efficacy of methotrexate, in the management of psoriasis, psoriasis arthritis, chronic polyarthritis, and Crohn's disease, is due to an anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive effect and to which extent a methotrexate-induced increase in extracellular adenosine concentration at inflamed sites contributes to these effects.
International clinical guidelines reflect the use of methotrexate as a second choice for Crohn's disease patients that are intolerant or have failed to respond to first-line immunomodulating agents as azathioprine (AZA) or 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP).
The adverse events observed in the studies performed with methotrexate for Crohn's disease at cumulative doses have not shown a different safety profile of methotrexate than the profile it is already known. Therefore, similar cautions must be taken with the use of methotrexate for the treatment of Crohn's disease as in other rheumatic and non-rheumatic indications of methotrexate.
Two reports describe in vitro methotrexate inhibition of DNA precursor uptake by stimulated mononuclear cells, and another describes in animal polyarthritis partial correction by methotrexate of spleen cell hyporesponsiveness and suppressed IL 2 production. Other laboratories, however, have been unable to demonstrate similar effects. Clarification of methotrexate's effect on immune activity and its relation to rheumatoid immunopathogenesis await further studies.
In psoriasis, the rate of production of epithelial cells in the skin is greatly increased over normal skin. This differential in proliferation rates is the basis for the use of methotrexate to control the psoriatic process.
Methotrexate in high doses, followed by leucovorin rescue, is used as a part of the treatment of patients with non-metastatic osteosarcoma. The original rationale for high dose methotrexate therapy was based on the concept of selective rescue of normal tissues by leucovorin. More recent evidence suggests that high dose methotrexate may also overcome methotrexate resistance caused by impaired active transport, decreased affinity of dihydrofolic acid reductase for methotrexate, increased levels of dihydrofolic acid reductase resulting from gene amplification, or decreased polyglutamation of methotrexate. The actual mechanism of action is unknown.
In doses of 0.1 mg (of Alltrex) per kg, Alltrex is completely absorbed from the G.I. tract; larger oral doses may be incompletely absorbed. Peak serum concentrations are achieved within 0.5 - 2 hours following I.V. / I.M. or intra-arterial administration. Serum concentrations following oral administration of Alltrex may be slightly lower than those following I.V. injection.
Alltrex is actively transported across cell membranes. The drug is widely distributed into body tissues with highest concentrations in the kidneys, gall bladder, spleen, liver and skin. Alltrex is retained for several weeks in the kidneys and for months in the liver. Sustained serum concentrations and tissue accumulation may result from repeated daily doses. Alltrex crosses the placental barrier and is distributed into breast milk. Approximately 50% of the drug in the blood is bound to serum proteins.
In one study, Alltrex had a serum half-life of 2-4 hours following I.M. administration. Following oral doses of 0.06 mg/kg or more, the drug had a serum half-life of 2-4 hours, but the serum half-life was reported to be increased to 8-10 hours when oral doses of 0.037 mg/kg were given.
Alltrex does not appear to be appreciably metabolised. The drug is excreted primarily by the kidneys via glomerular filtration and active transport. Small amounts are excreted in the faeces, probably via the bile. Alltrex has a biphasic excretion pattern. If Alltrex excretion is impaired accumulation will occur more rapidly in patients with impaired renal function. In addition, simultaneous administration of other weak organic acids such as salicylates may suppress Alltrex clearance.
Following oral administration, methotrexate is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. In case of low-dosed administration (dosages between 7.5 mg/mÂ² and 80 mg/mÂ² body surface area), the mean bioavailability is approx. 70 %, but considerable interindividual and intraindividual deviations are possible (25 - 100 %). Maximum serum concentrations are achieved after 1 - 2 hours.
Bioavailability of subcutaneous, intravenous and intramuscular injection is comparable and nearly 100 %.
Approximately 50 % of methotrexate is bound to serum proteins. Upon being distributed into body tissues, high concentrations in the form of polyglutamates are found in the liver, kidneys and spleen in particular, which can be retained for weeks or months. When administered in small doses, methotrexate passes into the cerebrospinal fluid in minimal amounts. The terminal half-life is on average 6 - 7 hours and demonstrates considerable variation (3 - 17 hours). The half-life can be prolonged to 4 times the normal length in patients who possess a third distribution space (pleural effusion, ascites).
Approx. 10 % of the administered methotrexate dose is metabolised intrahepatically. The principle metabolite is 7-hydroxymethotrexate.
Excretion takes places, mainly in unchanged form, primarily renal via glomerular filtration and active secretion in the proximal tubulus.
Approx. 5 - 20 % methotrexate and 1 - 5 % 7-hydroxymethotrexate are eliminated biliary. There is pronounced enterohepatic circulation.
In the case of renal impairment, elimination is delayed significantly. Impaired elimination with regard to hepatic impairment is not known.
In adults, oral absorption appears to be dose dependent. Peak serum levels are reached within one to two hours. At doses of 30 mg/m² or less, methotrexate is generally well absorbed with a mean bioavailability of about 60%. The absorption of doses greater than 80 mg/m² is significantly less, possibly due to a saturation effect.
In a relative bioavailability study in healthy subjects, the systemic exposure of methotrexate (AUC) from Alltrex at doses of 7.5 mg, 15 mg, 22.5 mg, and 30 mg, was higher than that of oral methotrexate administered at the same doses by 35%, 49%, 51%, and 68%, respectively. In a relative bioavailability study in psoriasis patients, the systemic exposure (AUC) of methotrexate from Alltrex at a dose of 30 mg, was similar to that of methotrexate administered at the same dose by the intramuscular route.
In leukemic pediatric patients, oral absorption of methotrexate also appears to be dose dependent and has been reported to vary widely (23% to 95%). A twenty fold difference between highest and lowest peak levels (Cmax: 0.11 to 2.3 micromolar after a 20 mg/m² dose) has been reported.
Significant interindividual variability has also been noted in time to peak concentration (Tmax: 0.67 to 4 hrs after a 15 mg/m² dose) and fraction of dose absorbed. The absorption of doses greater than 40 mg/m² has been reported to be significantly less than that of lower doses. Food has been shown to delay absorption and reduce peak concentration.
Methotrexate is generally completely absorbed from parenteral routes of injection. After intramuscular injection, peak serum concentrations occur in 30 to 60 minutes.
As in leukemic pediatric patients, a wide interindividual variability in the plasma concentrations of methotrexate has been reported in pediatric patients with JIA. Following oral administration of methotrexate in doses of 6.4 to 11.2 mg/m²/week in pediatric patients with JIA, mean serum concentrations were 0.59 micromolar (range, 0.03 to 1.40) at 1 hour, 0.44 micromolar (range, 0.01 to 1.00) at 2 hours, and 0.29 micromolar (range, 0.06 to 0.58) at 3 hours.
After intravenous administration, the initial volume of distribution is approximately 0.18 L/kg (18% of body weight) and steady-state volume of distribution is approximately 0.4 to 0.8 L/kg (40 to 80% of body weight). Methotrexate competes with reduced folates for active transport across cell membranes by means of a single carrier-mediated active transport process. At serum concentrations greater than 100 micromolar, passive diffusion becomes a major pathway by which effective intracellular concentrations can be achieved. Methotrexate in serum is approximately 50% protein bound. Laboratory studies demonstrate that it may be displaced from plasma albumin by various compounds including sulfonamides, salicylates, tetracyclines, chloramphenicol, and phenytoin.
Methotrexate does not penetrate the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier in therapeutic amounts when given orally or parenterally. High CSF concentrations of the drug may be attained by intrathecal administration of other parenteral forms of methotrexate.
In dogs, synovial fluid concentrations after oral dosing were higher in inflamed than uninflamed joints. Although salicylates did not interfere with this penetration, prior prednisone treatment reduced penetration into inflamed joints to the level of normal joints.
After absorption, methotrexate undergoes hepatic and intracellular metabolism to polyglutamated forms which can be converted back to methotrexate by hydrolase enzymes. These polyglutamates act as inhibitors of dihydrofolate reductase and thymidylate synthetase. Small amounts of methotrexate polyglutamates may remain in tissues for extended periods. The retention and prolonged drug action of these active metabolites vary among different cells, tissues and tumors. A small amount of metabolism to 7-hydroxymethotrexate may occur at doses commonly prescribed. Accumulation of this metabolite may become significant at the high doses used in osteogenic sarcoma. The aqueous solubility of 7-hydroxymethotrexate is 3 to 5 fold lower than the parent compound. Methotrexate is partially metabolized by intestinal flora after oral administration.
The terminal half-life reported for methotrexate is approximately three to ten hours for patients receiving treatment for psoriasis, or rheumatoid arthritis or low dose antineoplastic therapy (less than 30 mg/m²). For patients receiving high doses of methotrexate, the terminal half-life is eight to 15 hours.
In pediatric patients receiving methotrexate for acute lymphocytic leukemia (6.3 to 30 mg/m²), or for JIA (3.75 to 26.2 mg/m²), the terminal half-life has been reported to range from 0.7 to 5.8 hours or 0.9 to 2.3 hours, respectively.
Renal excretion is the primary route of elimination and is dependent upon dosage and route of administration. With IV administration, 80% to 90% of the administered dose is excreted unchanged in the urine within 24 hours. There is limited biliary excretion amounting to 10% or less of the administered dose. Enterohepatic recirculation of methotrexate has been proposed.
Renal excretion occurs by glomerular filtration and active tubular secretion. Nonlinear elimination due to saturation of renal tubular reabsorption has been observed in psoriatic patients at doses between 7.5 and 30 mg. Impaired renal function, as well as concurrent use of drugs such as weak organic acids that also undergo tubular secretion, can markedly increase methotrexate serum levels.
Excellent correlation has been reported between methotrexate clearance and endogenous creatinine clearance.
Methotrexate clearance rates vary widely and are generally decreased at higher doses. Delayed drug clearance has been identified as one of the major factors responsible for methotrexate toxicity. It has been postulated that the toxicity of methotrexate for normal tissues is more dependent upon the duration of exposure to the drug rather than the peak level achieved. When a patient has delayed drug elimination due to compromised renal function, a third space effusion, or other causes, methotrexate serum concentrations may remain elevated for prolonged periods.
When other forms of parenteral methotrexate are administered during cancer chemotherapy, the potential for toxicity from high dose regimens or delayed excretion is reduced by the administration of leucovorin calcium during the final phase of methotrexate plasma elimination.
Pharmacokinetic monitoring of methotrexate serum concentrations may help identify those patients at high risk for methotrexate toxicity and aid in proper adjustments of leucovorin dosing.
Animal studies show that methotrexate impairs fertility, is embryo- and foetotoxic and teratogenic. Methotrexate is mutagenic in vivo and in vitro. As conventional carcinogenicity studies have not been performed and data from chronic toxicity studies in rodents are inconsistent, methotrexate is considered not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans.
In the absence of compatibility studies, this medicinal product must not be mixed with other medicinal products.
Any unused medicinal product or waste material should be disposed of in accordance with local requirements.
The manner of handling and disposal must be in accordance with local requirements. Pregnant health care personnel should not handle and/or administer Alltrex PEN.
Methotrexate should not come into contact with the skin or mucosa. In the event of contamination, the affected area must be rinsed immediately with ample amount of water.
For single use only.
Any unused medicinal product or waste should be disposed of in accordance with local requirements.
Instructions for subcutaneous use
The most appropriate zones for the injection are:
- upper thighs,
- abdomen except around the navel.
1. Clean the area around the chosen injection site (e.g. by using the enclosed alcohol pad).
2. Pull the cap straight off.
3. Build a skin fold by gently squeezing the area at the injection site.
4. The fold must be held pinched until the Alltrex PEN is removed from the skin after the injection.
5. Push the Alltrex PEN firmly into the skin at a 90degree angle in order to unlock the button. Then press the button (a click indicates the start of injection).
6. Do not remove the Alltrex PEN from the skin before the end of the injection to avoid incomplete injection. This can take up to 5 seconds.
7. Remove the Alltrex PEN from the skin at the same 90degree angle.
8. The protective shield automatically moves into place over the needle and is then locked.
However, we will provide data for each active ingredient