Important Safety Information
WARNING: RISK OF SERIOUS DISORDERS AND RIBAVIRIN-ASSOCIATED EFFECTS
Ribasphere monotherapy is not effective for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infection and should not be used alone for this indication.
The primary clinical toxicity of ribavirin is hemolytic anemia. The anemia associated with ribavirin therapy may result in worsening of cardiac disease and lead to fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarctions. Patients with a history of significant or unstable cardiac disease should not be treated with Ribasphere [see Warnings and Precautions, Adverse Reactions and Dosage and Administration].
Significant teratogenic and/or embryocidal effects have been demonstrated in all animal species exposed to ribavirin. In addition, ribavirin has a multiple dose half-life of 12 days, and it may persist in non-plasma compartments for as long as 6 months. Therefore, ribavirin, including Ribasphere, is contraindicated in women who are pregnant and in the male partners of women who are pregnant. Extreme care must be taken to avoid pregnancy during therapy and for 6 months after completion of therapy in both female patients and in female partners of male patients who are taking ribavirin therapy. At least two reliable forms of effective contraception must be utilized during treatment and during the 6-month post treatment follow-up period [see Contraindications, Warnings and Precautions, and Use in Specific Populations].
DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION
Ribasphere should be taken with food. Ribasphere should be given in combination with peginterferon alfa-2a; it is important to note that Ribasphere should never be given as monotherapy. See Peginterferon alfa-2a full Prescribing Information for all instructions regarding peginterferon alfa-2a dosing and administration.
Chronic hepatitis C monoinfection
The daily dose of Ribasphere is 800 mg to 1200 mg administered orally in two divided doses. The dose should be individualized to the patient depending on baseline disease characteristics (e.g., genotype), response to therapy and tolerability of the regimen. The recommended duration of treatment for patients previously untreated with ribavirin and interferon is 24 to 48 weeks. Ribasphere should be taken with food. See Peginterferon alfa-2a full Prescribing Information for all instructions regarding peginterferon alfa-2a dosing and administration.
Ribasphere should be given in combination with peginterferon alfa-2a. The recommended dose for Ribasphere is based on body weight. Ribasphere is available as a 200 mg, 400 mg and 600 mg tablet and therefore the healthcare provider should determine if this sized tablet can be swallowed by the pediatric patient. Refer to Table 2 in the full Prescribing Information for Guidelines pertaining to Dosage and Administration of ribavirin/peginterferon alfa-2a for pediatric patients. Patients who initiate treatment prior to their 18th birthday should maintain pediatric dosing through the completion of therapy.
Chronic hepatitis C with HIV coinfection
The recommended dose for treatment of chronic hepatitis C in patients coinfected with HIV is peginterferon alfa-2a 180 mcg subcutaneous once weekly and Ribasphere tablets 800 mg by mouth daily for a total duration of 48 weeks, regardless of HCV genotype.
Adult and Pediatric Patients
If severe adverse reactions or laboratory abnormalities develop during combination Ribasphere/peginterferon alfa-2a therapy, the dose should be modified or discontinued, if appropriate, until the adverse reactions abate or decrease in severity. If intolerance persists after dose adjustment, Ribasphere/peginterferon alfa-2a therapy should be discontinued.
Ribasphere should be administered with caution to patients with pre-existing cardiac disease. If there is any deterioration of cardiovascular status, therapy should be stopped [see Warnings and Precautions].
Once Ribasphere has been withheld due to either a laboratory abnormality or clinical adverse reaction, an attempt may be made to restart Ribasphere at 600 mg daily and further increase the dose to 800 mg daily. However, it is not recommended that Ribasphere be increased to the original assigned dose (1000 mg to 1200 mg).
Upon resolution of a laboratory abnormality or clinical adverse reaction, an increase in Ribasphere dose to the original dose may be attempted depending upon the physician’s judgment. If Ribasphere has been withheld due to a laboratory abnormality or clinical adverse reaction, an attempt may be made to restart Ribasphere at one-half the full dose.
Refer to the full Prescribing Information for Guidelines pertaining to Dose Modification and Discontinuation of ribavirin/peginterferon alfa-2a.
Discontinuation of dosing
Discontinuation of Ribasphere/peginterferon alfa-2a therapy should be considered if the patient has failed to demonstrate at least a 2 log10 reduction from baseline in HCV RNA by 12 weeks of therapy, or undetectable HCV RNA levels after 24 weeks of therapy.
Ribasphere/peginterferon alfa-2a therapy should be discontinued in patients who develop hepatic decompensation during treatment [see Warnings and Precautions].
Dose should be reduced in patients with creatinine clearance less than or equal to 50 mL/min [see Use in Specific Populations]. No data are available for pediatric patients with renal impairment.
Ribasphere is contraindicated in:
- Women who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or who are not practicing effective birth control methods. 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. See boxed warning regarding extreme care needed to avoid pregnancy.
- Men whose partners are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or who are not practicing effective birth control methods. See boxed warning regarding extreme care needed to avoid pregnancy.
- Patients with hemoglobinopathies (e.g., thalassemia major or sickle-cell anemia).
- Combination with didanosine. Reports of fatal hepatic failure, as well as peripheral neuropathy, pancreatitis, and symptomatic hyperlactatemia/lactic acidosis have been reported in clinical trials.
Ribasphere and peginterferon alfa-2a combination therapy is contraindicated in patients with:
- Autoimmune hepatitis.
- Hepatic decompensation (Child-Pugh score greater than 6; class B and C) in cirrhotic CHC monoinfected patients [see Warnings and Precautions].
- Hepatic decompensation (Child-Pugh score greater than or equal to 6) in cirrhotic CHC patients coinfected with HIV [see Warnings and Precautions].
WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS
Significant adverse reactions associated with Ribasphere/peginterferon alfa-2a combination therapy include severe depression and suicidal ideation, hemolytic anemia, suppression of bone marrow function, autoimmune and infectious disorders, ophthalmologic disorders, cerebrovascular disorders, pulmonary dysfunction, colitis, pancreatitis, and diabetes.
The Peginterferon alfa-2a full Prescribing Information should be reviewed in its entirety for additional safety information prior to initiation of combination treatment.
Pregnancy: Ribasphere may cause birth defects and/or death of the exposed fetus. Ribavirin has demonstrated significant teratogenic and/or embryocidal effects in all animal species in which adequate studies have been conducted. These effects occurred at doses as low as one twentieth of the recommended human dose of ribavirin.
Ribasphere therapy should not be started unless a report of a negative pregnancy test has been obtained immediately prior to initiation of therapy. See boxed warning and Contraindications regarding extreme care to avoid pregnancy.
Anemia: The primary toxicity of ribavirin is hemolytic anemia, which was observed in approximately 13% of all ribavirin/peginterferon alfa-2a-treated subjects in clinical trials. Anemia associated with ribavirin occurs within 1 to 2 weeks of initiation of therapy. Because the initial drop in hemoglobin may be significant, it is advised that hemoglobin or hematocrit be obtained pretreatment and at week 2 and week 4 of therapy or more frequently if clinically indicated. Patients should then be followed as clinically appropriate. Caution should be exercised in initiating treatment in any patient with baseline risk of severe anemia (e.g., spherocytosis, history of gastrointestinal bleeding). See boxed warning regarding hemolytic anemia associated with ribavirin therapy.
Fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarctions have been reported in patients with anemia caused by ribavirin. Patients should be assessed for underlying cardiac disease before initiation of ribavirin therapy. Patients with pre-existing cardiac disease should have electrocardiograms administered before treatment, and should be appropriately monitored during therapy. If there is any deterioration of cardiovascular status, therapy should be suspended or discontinued [see Dosage and Administration]. Because cardiac disease may be worsened by drug-induced anemia, patients with a history of significant or unstable cardiac disease should not use Ribasphere [see boxed warning and Dosage and Administration].
Hepatic failure: CHC patients with cirrhosis may be at risk of hepatic decompensation and death when treated with alpha interferons, including peginterferon alfa-2a. Cirrhotic CHC patients coinfected with HIV receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and interferon alfa-2a with or without ribavirin appear to be at increased risk for the development of hepatic decompensation compared to patients not receiving HAART. Treatment with Ribasphere/peginterferon alfa-2a should be discontinued immediately in patients with hepatic decompensation [see Contraindications].
Hypersensitivity: Severe acute hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., urticaria, angioedema, bronchoconstriction, and anaphylaxis) have been observed during alpha interferon and ribavirin therapy. If such a reaction occurs, therapy with peginterferon alfa-2a and Ribasphere should be discontinued immediately and appropriate medical therapy instituted. Serious skin reactions including vesiculobullous eruptions, reactions in the spectrum of Stevens-Johnson syndrome (erythema multiforme major) with varying degrees of skin and mucosal involvement and exfoliative dermatitis (erythroderma) have been reported in patients receiving peginterferon alfa-2a with and without ribavirin. Patients developing signs or symptoms of severe skin reactions must discontinue therapy [see Adverse Reactions].
Pulmonary disorders: Dyspnea, pulmonary infiltrates, pneumonitis, pulmonary hypertension, and pneumonia have been reported during therapy with ribavirin and interferon. Occasional cases of fatal pneumonia have occurred. In addition, sarcoidosis or the exacerbation of sarcoidosis has been reported. If there is evidence of pulmonary infiltrates or pulmonary function impairment, patients should be closely monitored and, if appropriate, combination Ribasphere/peginterferon alfa-2a treatment should be discontinued.
Bone marrow suppression: Peginterferon alfa-2a, Ribasphere, and azathioprine should be discontinued for pancytopenia, and pegylated interferon/ribavirin should not be re-introduced with concomitant azathioprine [see Drug Interactions].
Pancreatitis: Ribasphere and peginterferon alfa-2a therapy should be suspended in patients with signs and symptoms of pancreatitis, and discontinued in patients with confirmed pancreatitis.
Impact on growth in pediatric patients: Pediatric subjects treated with peginterferon alfa-2a plus ribavirin combination therapy showed a delay in weight and height increases after 48 weeks of therapy compared with baseline [see Warnings and Precautions].
Peginterferon alfa-2a in combination with ribavirin causes a broad variety of serious adverse reactions [see boxed warning and Warnings and Precautions]. The most common serious or life-threatening adverse reactions induced or aggravated by ribavirin/peginterferon alfa-2a include depression, suicide, relapse of drug abuse/overdose, and bacterial infections each occurring at a frequency of less than1%. Hepatic decompensation occurred in 2% (10/574) CHC/HIV patients [see Warnings and Precautions].
The most common adverse reactions (frequency > 40%) in adults receiving combination therapy are fatigue/asthenia, pyrexia, myalgia and headache. The most common adverse reactions in pediatric subjects were similar to those seen in adults.
Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors: Closely monitor for toxicities. Discontinue nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors or reduce dose or discontinue interferon, ribavirin or both with worsening toxicities.
Azathioprine: Concomitant use of Azathioprine with ribavirin has been reported to induce severe pancytopenia and may increase the risk of Azathioprine-related myelotoxicity.
USE IN SPECIFIC POPULATIONS
Pregnancy: Category X - see boxed warning regarding extreme care to avoid pregnancy.
Ribavirin produced significant embryocidal and/or teratogenic effects in all animal species in which adequate studies have been conducted. Malformations of the skull, palate, eye, jaw, limbs, skeleton, and gastrointestinal tract were noted. The incidence and severity of teratogenic effects increased with escalation of the drug dose. Survival of fetuses and offspring was reduced [see Contraindications, Warnings and Precautions].
Ribavirin Pregnancy Registry: 1-800-593-2214
Pediatrics: Safety and efficacy in patients younger than 5 years of age have not been established.
Renal impairment: Dose should be reduced in patients with creatinine clearance less than or equal to 50 mL/min.
Organ transplant recipients: Safety and efficacy have not been studied.
INDICATIONS AND USAGE
Ribasphere® (ribavirin, USP) tablets in combination with peginterferon alfa-2a is indicated for the treatment of patients 5 years of age and older with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) virus infection who have compensated liver disease and have not been previously treated with interferon alpha and in adult CHC patients coinfected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The following points should be considered when initiating Ribasphere combination therapy with peginterferon alfa-2a:
- This indication is based on clinical trials of combination therapy in patients with CHC and compensated liver disease, some of whom had histological evidence of cirrhosis (Child-Pugh class A), and in adult patients with clinically stable HIV disease and CD4 count greater than 100 cells/mm3.
- This indication is based on achieving undetectable HCV-RNA after treatment for 24 or 48 weeks, based on HCV genotype, and maintaining a Sustained Virologic Response (SVR) 24 weeks after the last dose.
- Safety and efficacy data are not available for treatment longer than 48 weeks.
- The safety and efficacy of ribavirin and peginterferon alfa-2a therapy have not been established in liver or other organ transplant recipients, patients with decompensated liver disease, or previous non-responders to interferon therapy.
- The safety and efficacy of ribavirin therapy for the treatment of adenovirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), parainfluenza or influenza infections have not been established. Ribasphere should not be used for these indications. Ribavirin for inhalation has a separate package insert, which should be consulted if ribavirin inhalation therapy is being considered.
You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.FDA.gov/medwatch. You may also report side effects to Kadmon Pharmaceuticals, LLC at 1-877-377-7862.
Issued: June 2015 Item No.: C130.00159
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