ESTROGENS INCREASE THE RISK OF ENDOMETRIAL CANCER
Close clinical surveillance of all women taking estrogens is important. Adequate diagnostic measures, including endometrial sampling when indicated, should be undertaken to rule out malignancy in all cases of undiagnosed persistent or recurring abnormal vaginal bleeding. There is no evidence that the use of “natural” estrogens results in a different endometrial risk profile than synthetic estrogens at equivalent estrogen doses. (See WARNINGS, Malignant neoplasms, Endometrial cancer.)
CARDIOVASCULAR AND OTHER RISKS
The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study reported increased risks of myocardial infarction, stroke, invasive breast cancer, pulmonary emboli, and deep vein thrombosis in postmenopausal women (50 to 79 years of age) during 5 years of treatment with oral conjugated estrogens (CE 0.625 mg) combined with medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA 2.5 mg) relative to placebo (See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Clinical Studies.)
The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS), a substudy of WHI, reported increased risk of developing probable dementia in postmenopausal women 65 years of age or older during 4 years of treatment with oral conjugated estrogens plus medroxyprogesterone acetate relative to placebo. It is unknown whether this finding applies to younger postmenopausal women or to women taking estrogen alone therapy. (See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Clinical Studies.)
Other doses of conjugated estrogens with medroxyprogesterone acetate, and other combinations and dosage forms of estrogens and progestins were not studied in the WHI clinical trials and, in the absence of comparable data, these risks should be assumed to be similar. Because of these risks, estrogens with or without progestins should be prescribed at the lowest effective doses and for the shortest duration consistent with treatment goals and risks for the individual woman.
INDICATIONS AND USAGE
Menest is indicated in the:
- Treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms associated with the menopause.
- Treatment of moderate to severe symptoms of vulvar and vaginal atrophy associated with the menopause. When prescribing solely for the treatment of symptoms of vulvar and vaginal atrophy, topical vaginal products should be considered.
- Female hypogonadism.
- Female castration.
- Primary ovarian failure.
- Breast cancer (for palliation only) in appropriately selected women and men with metastatic disease.
- Prostatic carcinoma - palliative therapy of advanced disease.
DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION
When estrogen is prescribed for a postmenopausal woman with a uterus, a progestin should also be initiated to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. A woman without a uterus does not need progestin. Use of estrogen, alone or in combination with a progestin, should be with the lowest effective dose and for the shortest duration consistent with treatment goals and risks for the individual woman. Patients should be reevaluated periodically as clinically appropriate (e.g., 3-month to 6-month intervals) to determine if treatment is still necessary (See Boxed Warnings and WARNINGS.) For women who have a uterus, adequate diagnostic measures, such as endometrial sampling, when indicated, should be undertaken to rule out malignancy in cases of undiagnosed persistent or recurring abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Patients should be started at the lowest dose.
1. Given cyclically for short term use only:
For treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms, or moderate to severe symptoms of vulvar and vaginal atrophy associated with the menopause.
Administration should be cyclic (e.g., 3 weeks on and 1 week off).
USUAL DOSAGE RANGES:
Vasomotor symptoms – 1.25 mg daily. If the patient has not menstruated within the last 2 months or more, cyclic administration is started arbitrarily. If the patient is menstruating, cyclic administration is started on day 5 of bleeding.
Moderate to severe symptoms of vulvar and vaginal atrophy – 0.3 mg to 1.25 mg or more daily, depending upon the tissue response of the individual patient. Administer cyclically.
2. Given cyclically: Female hypogonadism; female castration; primary ovarian failure.
USUAL DOSAGE RANGES:
Female hypogonadism – 2.5 to 7.5 mg daily, in divided doses for 20 days, followed by a rest period of 10 days’ duration. If bleeding does not occur by the end of this period, the same dosage schedule is repeated. The number of courses of estrogen therapy necessary to produce bleeding may vary depending on responsiveness of the endometrium. If bleeding occurs before the end of the 10 day period, begin a 20 day estrogen-progestin cyclic regimen with Menest (esterified estrogens tablets), 2.5 to 7.5 mg daily in divided doses, for 20 days. During the last 5 days of estrogen therapy, give an oral progestin. If bleeding occurs before this regimen is concluded, therapy is discontinued and may be resumed on the fifth day of bleeding.
Female castration and primary ovarian failure – 1.25 mg daily, cyclically. Adjust dosage upward or downward according to severity of symptoms and response of the patient. For maintenance, adjust dosage to lowest level that will provide effective control.
3. Given chronically: Inoperable progressing prostatic cancer — 1.25 to 2.5 mg three times daily. The effectiveness of therapy can be judged by phosphatase determinations as well as by symptomatic improvement of the patient.
Inoperable progressing breast cancer in appropriately selected men and postmenopausal women. (See INDICATIONS AND USAGE) – Suggested dosage is 10 mg three times daily for a period of at least 3 months.
Treated patients with an intact uterus should be monitored closely for signs of endometrial cancer and appropriate diagnostic measures should be taken to rule out malignancy in the event of persistent or recurring abnormal vaginal bleeding. The lowest effective dose of Menest has not been determined.
Menest should not be used in women with any of the following conditions:
- Undiagnosed abnormal genital bleeding.
- Known, suspected, or history of cancer of the breast except in appropriately selected patients being treated for metastatic disease.
- Known or suspected estrogen-dependent neoplasia.
- Active deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism or a history of these conditions.
- Active or recent (e.g., within the past year) arterial thromboembolic disease (e.g., stroke, myocardial infarction).
- Liver dysfunction or disease.
- Menest should not be used in patients with known hypersensitivity to its ingredients.
- Known or suspected pregnancy. There is no indication for Menest in pregnancy. There appears to be little or no increased risk of birth defects in children born to women who have used estrogens and progestins from oral contraceptives inadvertently during early pregnancy. (See PRECAUTIONS.)
See Boxed Warnings.
The use of unopposed estrogens in women who have a uterus is associated with an increased risk of endometrial cancer.
1. Cardiovascular disorders
Estrogen and estrogen/progestin therapy has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction and stroke, as well as venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism (venous thromboembolism or VTE). Should any of these occur or be suspected, estrogens should be discontinued immediately.
Risk factors for arterial vascular disease (e.g., hypertension, diabetes mellitus, tobacco use, hypercholesterolemia, and obesity) and/or venous thromboembolism (e.g., personal history or family history of VTE, obesity, and systemic lupus erythematosus) should be managed appropriately.
a. Coronary heart disease and stroke
In the Women’s Health Initiative study (WHI), an increase in the number of myocardial infarctions and strokes has been observed in women receiving CE compared to placebo. These observations are preliminary. (See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Clinical Studies.)
In the CE/MPA substudy of WHI, an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events (defined as nonfatal myocardial infarction and CHD death) was observed in women receiving CE/MPA compared to women receiving placebo (37 vs 30 per 10,000 women-years). The increase in risk was observed in year one and persisted.
In the same substudy of WHI, an increased risk of stroke was observed in women receiving CE/MPA compared to women receiving placebo (29 vs 21 per 10,000 women-years). The increase in risk was observed after the first year and persisted.
In postmenopausal women with documented heart disease (n = 2,763, average age 66.7 years) a controlled clinical trial of secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease (Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement study; HERS) treatment with CE/MPA (0.625mg/2.5mg per day) demonstrated no cardiovascular benefit. During an average follow-up of 4.1 years, treatment with CE/MPA did not reduce the overall rate of CHD events in postmenopausal women with established coronary heart disease. There were more CHD events in the CE/MPA-treated group than in the placebo group in year 1, but not during the subsequent years. Two thousand three hundred and twenty-one women from the original HERS trial agreed to participate in an open label extension of HERS, HERS II. Average follow-up in HERS II was an additional 2.7 years, for a total of 6.8 years overall. Rates of CHD events were comparable among women in the CE/MPA group and the placebo group in HERS, HERS II and overall.
Large doses of estrogen (5 mg conjugated estrogens per day), comparable to those used to treat cancer of the prostate and breast, have been shown in a large prospective clinical trial in men to increase the risks of nonfatal myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, and thrombophlebitis.
b. Venous thromboembolism (VTE)
In the Women’s Health Initiative study (WHI), an increase in VTE has been observed in women receiving CE compared to placebo. These observations are preliminary. (See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Clinical Studies.)
In the CE/MPA substudy of WHI, a 2-fold greater rate of VTE, including deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, was observed in women receiving CE/MPA compared to women receiving placebo. The rate of VTE was 34 per 10,000 women-years in the CE/MPA group compared to 16 per 10,000 women-years in the placebo group. The increase in VTE risk was observed during the first year and persisted.
If feasible, estrogens should be discontinued at least 4 to 6 weeks before surgery of the type associated with an increased risk of thromboembolism, or during periods of prolonged immobilization.
2. Malignant neoplasms
a. Endometrial cancer
The use of unopposed estrogens in women with intact uteri has been associated with an increased risk of endometrial cancer. The reported endometrial cancer risk among unopposed estrogen users is about 2- to 12- fold greater than in non-users, and appears dependent on duration of treatment and on estrogen dose. Most studies show no significant increased risk associated with use of estrogens for less than one year. The greatest risk appears associated with prolonged use, with increased risks of 15- to 24-fold for five to ten years or more and this risk has been shown to persist for at least 8 to 15 years after estrogen therapy is discontinued.
Clinical surveillance of all women taking estrogen/progestin combinations is important. Adequate diagnostic measures, including endometrial sampling when indicated, should be undertaken to rule out malignancy in all cases of undiagnosed persistent or recurring abnormal vaginal bleeding. There is no evidence that the use of natural estrogens results in a different endometrial risk profile than synthetic estrogens, of equivalent estrogen dose. Adding a progestin to estrogen therapy has been shown to reduce the risk of endometrial hyperplasia, which may be a precursor to endometrial cancer.
b. Breast cancer
The use of estrogens and progestins by postmenopausal women has been reported to increase the risk of breast cancer. The most important randomized clinical trial providing information about this issue is the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) substudy of CE/MPA (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Clinical Studies). The results from observational studies are generally consistent with those of the WHI clinical trial and report no significant variation in the risk of breast cancer among different estrogens or progestins, doses, or routes of administration.
The CE/MPA substudy of WHI reported an increased risk of breast cancer in women who took CE/MPA for a mean follow-up of 5.6 years. Observational studies have also reported an increased risk for estrogen/progestin combination therapy, and a smaller increased risk for estrogen alone therapy, after several years of use. In the WHI trial and from observational studies, the excess risk increased with duration of use. From observational studies, the risk appeared to return to baseline in about five years after stopping treatment. In addition, observational studies suggest that the risk of breast cancer was greater, and became apparent earlier, with estrogen/progestin combination therapy as compared to estrogen alone therapy.
In the CE/MPA substudy, 26% of the women reported prior use of estrogen alone and/or estrogen/progestin combination hormone therapy. After a mean follow-up of 5.6 years during the clinical trial, the overall relative risk of invasive breast cancer was 1.24 (95% confidence interval 1.01 – 1.54), and the overall absolute risk was 41 vs 33 cases per 10,000 women-years, for CE/MPA compared with placebo. Among women who reported prior use of hormone therapy, the relative risk of invasive breast cancer was 1.86, and the absolute risk was 46 vs 25 cases per 10,000 women-years, for CE/MPA compared with placebo. Among women who reported no prior use of hormone therapy, the relative risk of invasive breast cancer was 1.09, and the absolute risk was 40 vs 36 cases per 10,000 women-years for CE/MPA compared with placebo. In the same substudy, invasive breast cancers were larger and diagnosed at a more advanced stage in the CE/MPA group compared with the placebo group. Metastatic disease was rare with no apparent difference between the two groups. Other prognostic factors such as histologic subtype, grade and hormone receptor status did not differ between the groups.
The use of estrogen plus progestin has been reported to result in an increase in abnormal mammograms requiring further evaluation. All women should receive yearly breast examinations by a healthcare provider and perform monthly breast self-examinations. In addition, mammography examinations should be scheduled based on patient age, risk factors, and prior mammogram results.
In the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS), 4,532 generally healthy postmenopausal women 65 years of age and older were studied, of whom 35% were 70 to 74 years of age and 18% were 75 or older. After an average follow-up of 4 years, 40 women being treated with CE/MPA (1.8%, n = 2,229) and 21 women in the placebo group (0.9%, n = 2,303) received diagnoses of probable dementia. The relative risk for CE/MPA versus placebo was 2.05 (95% confidence interval 1.21 – 3.48), and was similar for women with and without histories of menopausal hormone use before WHIMS. The absolute risk of probable dementia for CE/MPA versus placebo was 45 versus 22 cases per 10,000 women-years, and the absolute excess risk for CE/MPA was 23 cases per 10,000 women-years.
It is unknown whether these findings apply to estrogen alone therapy.
4. Gallbladder disease
A 2- to 4-fold increase in the risk of gallbladder disease requiring surgery in postmenopausal women receiving estrogens has been reported.
Estrogen administration may lead to severe hypercalcemia in patients with breast cancer and bone metastases. If hypercalcemia occurs, use of the drug should be stopped and appropriate measures taken to reduce the serum calcium level.
6. Visual abnormalities
Retinal vascular thrombosis has been reported in patients receiving estrogens. Discontinue medication pending examination if there is a sudden partial or complete loss of vision, or a sudden onset of proptosis, diplopia, or migraine. If examination reveals papilledema or retinal vascular lesions, estrogens should be permanently discontinued.
7. Hepatic adenoma
Benign hepatic adenomas appear to be associated with the use of oral contraceptives. Although benign, and rare, these may rupture and may cause death through intra-abdominal hemorrhage. Such lesions have not yet been reported in association with other estrogen or progestagen preparations but should be considered in estrogen users having abdominal pain and tenderness, abdominal mass, or hypovolemic shock. Hepatocellular carcinoma has also been reported in women taking estrogen-containing oral contraceptives. The relationship of this malignancy to these drugs is not known at this time.
1. Addition of a progestin when a woman has not had a hysterectomy
Studies of the addition of progestin for 10 or more days of a cycle of estrogen administration, or daily with estrogen in a continuous regimen, have reported a lowered incidence of endometrial hyperplasia than would be induced by estrogen treatment alone. Endometrial hyperplasia may be a precursor to endometrial cancer.
There are, however, possible risks that may be associated with the use of progestins with estrogens compared to estrogen-alone regimens. These include a possible increased risk of breast cancer.
2. Elevated blood pressure
In a small number of case reports, substantial increases in blood pressure have been attributed to idiosyncratic reactions to estrogens. In a large, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial, a generalized effect of estrogens on blood pressure was not seen. Blood pressure should be monitored at regular intervals with estrogen use.
In patients with pre-existing hypertriglyceridemia, estrogen therapy may be associated with elevations of plasma triglycerides leading to pancreatitis and other complications.
4. Impaired liver function and past history of cholestatic jaundice
Estrogens may be poorly metabolized in patients with impaired liver function. For patients with a history of cholestatic jaundice associated with past estrogen use or with pregnancy, caution should be exercised and in the case of recurrence, medication should be discontinued.
Estrogen administration leads to increased thyroid-binding globulin (TBG) levels. Patients with normal thyroid function can compensate for the increased TBG by making more thyroid hormone, thus maintaining free T4 and T3 serum concentrations in the normal range. Patients dependent on thyroid hormone replacement therapy who are also receiving estrogens may require increased doses of their thyroid replacement therapy. These patients should have their thyroid function monitored in order to maintain their free thyroid hormone levels in an acceptable range.
6. Fluid retention
Because estrogens may cause some degree of fluid retention, patients with conditions that might be influenced by this factor, such as a cardiac or renal dysfunction, warrant careful observation when estrogens are prescribed.
8. Ovarian cancer
The CE/MPA substudy of WHI reported that estrogen plus progestin increased the risk of ovarian cancer. After an average follow-up of 5.6 years, the relative risk for ovarian cancer for CE/MPA versus placebo was 1.58 (95% confidence interval 0.77 – 3.24) but was not statistically significant. The absolute risk for CE/MPA versus placebo was 4.2 versus 2.7 cases per 10,000 women-years. In some epidemiologic studies, the use of estrogen alone, in particular for ten or more years, has been associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Other epidemiologic studies have not found these associations.
9. Exacerbation of endometriosis
Endometriosis may be exacerbated with administration of estrogens. A few cases of malignant transformation of residual endometrial implants have been reported in women treated post-hysterectomy with estrogen alone therapy. For patients known to have residual endometriosis post-hysterectomy, the addition of progestin should be considered.
B. PATIENT INFORMATION
Physicians are advised to discuss the PATIENT INFORMATION leaflet with patients for whom they prescribe Menest.
C. LABORATORY TESTS
Estrogen administration should be initiated at the lowest dose approved for the indication and then guided by clinical response, rather than by serum hormone levels (e.g., estradiol, FSH).
D. DRUG/LABORATORY TEST INTERACTIONS
- Accelerated prothrombin time, partial thromboplastin time, and platelet aggregation time; increased platelet count; increased factors II, VII antigen, VIII antigen, VIII coagulant activity; IX, X, XII, VII-X complex, II-VII-X complex, and beta-thromboglobulin; decreased levels of antifactor Xa and antithrombin III, decreased antithrombin III activity; increased levels of fibrinogen and fibrinogen activity; increased plasminogen antigen and activity.
- Increased thyroid-binding globulin (TBG) levels leading to increased circulating total thyroid hormone levels as measured by protein-bound iodine (PBI), T4 levels (by column or by radioimmunoassay) or T3 levels by radioimmunoassay. T3 resin uptake is decreased, reflecting the elevated TBG. Free T4 and free T3 concentrations are unaltered. Patients on thyroid replacement therapy may require higher doses of thyroid hormone.
- Other binding proteins may be elevated in serum (i.e., corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)) leading to increased total circulating corticosteroids and sex steroids, respectively. Free hormone concentrations may be decreased. Other plasma proteins may be increased (angiotensinogen/renin substrate, alpha-1-antitrypsin, ceruloplasmin).
- Increased plasma HDL and HDL2 cholesterol subfraction concentrations, reduced LDL cholesterol concentration, increased triglycerides levels.
- Impaired glucose tolerance.
- Reduced response to metyrapone test.
E. CARCINOGENESIS, MUTAGENESIS, AND IMPAIRMENT OF FERTILITY
Long-term continuous administration of estrogen, with and without progestin, in women with and without a uterus, has shown an increased risk of endometrial cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. (See Boxed Warning, WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS.)
Long-term continuous administration of natural and synthetic estrogens in certain animal species increases the frequency of carcinomas of the breast, uterus, cervix, vagina, testis, and liver.
Menest should not be used during pregnancy. (See CONTRAINDICATIONS.)
G. NURSING MOTHERS
Estrogen administration to nursing mothers has been shown to decrease the quantity and quality of the milk. Detectable amounts of estrogens have been identified in the milk of mothers receiving this drug. Caution should be exercised when Menest is administered to a nursing mother.
I. GERIATRIC USE
In the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study, including 4,532 women 65 years of age and older, followed for an average of 4 years, 82% (n = 3,729) were 65 to 74 while 18% (n = 803) were 75 and over. Most women (80%) had no prior hormone therapy use. Women treated with conjugated estrogens plus medroxyprogesterone acetate were reported to have a two-fold increase in the risk of developing probable dementia. Alzheimer’s disease was the most common classification of probable dementia in both the conjugated estrogens plus medroxyprogesterone acetate group and the placebo group. Ninety percent of the cases of probable dementia occurred in the 54% of women that were older than 70. (See WARNINGS, Dementia.)
It is unknown whether these findings apply to estrogen alone therapy.
The following additional adverse reactions have been reported with estrogens and/or progestin therapy.
1. Genitourinary system
Changes in vaginal bleeding pattern and abnormal withdrawal bleeding or flow; breakthrough bleeding; spotting; dysmenorrhea, increase in size of uterine leiomyomata; vaginitis, including vaginal candidiasis; change in amount of cervical secretion; changes in cervical ectropion; ovarian cancer; endometrial hyperplasia; endometrial cancer; premenstrual like syndrome, amenorrhea during and after treatment; cystitis like syndrome.
Tenderness, enlargement, pain, nipple discharge, galactorrhea; fibrocystic breast changes; breast cancer.
Deep and superficial venous thrombosis; pulmonary embolism; thrombophlebitis; myocardial infarction; stroke; increase in blood pressure.
Nausea, vomiting; abdominal cramps, bloating; cholestatic jaundice; increased incidence of gall bladder disease; pancreatitis, enlargement of hepatic hemangiomas.
Chloasma or melasma, that may persist when drug is discontinued; erythema multiforme; erythema nodosum; hemorrhagic eruption; loss of scalp hair; hirsutism; pruritus, rash.
Retinal vascular thrombosis; steepening of corneal curvature; intolerance to contact lenses.
7. Central nervous system
Headache; migraine; dizziness; mental depression; chorea; nervousness; mood disturbances; irritability; exacerbation of epilepsy, dementia.
Esterified estrogens is a mixture of the sodium salts of the sulfate esters of the estrogenic substances, principally estrone, that are of the type excreted by pregnant mares. It contains the concomitant component, 17α-estradiol. The content of total esterified estrogens is not less than 90 percent and not more than 110 percent of the labeled amount. Esterified estrogens contain not less than 75 percent and not more than 85 percent of sodium estrone sulfate, and not less than 6 percent and not more than 15 percent of sodium equilin sulfate, in such proportion that the total of these two components is not less than 90 percent, all percentages being calculated on the basis of the total esterified estrogens content.
Inactive Ingredients: Ethyl cellulose, fragrances, hydroxypropyl cellulose, hypromellose 2910, lactose, magnesium stearate, methylcellulose, polyethylene glycol, sodium bicarbonate, shellac, starch, stearic acid, titanium dioxide, and vanillin. Dyes in the form of aluminum lakes are contained in each tablet strength as follows: 0.3 mg Tablet: FD&C Yellow No. 6, D&C Yellow No. 10. 0.625 mg Tablet: FD&C Yellow No. 6, D&C Yellow No. 10. 1.25 mg Tablet: FD&C Yellow No. 6, D&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Blue No. 1. 2.5 mg Tablet: D&C Red No. 30.
Endogenous estrogens are largely responsible for the development and maintenance of the female reproductive system and secondary sexual characteristics. Although circulating estrogens exist in a dynamic equilibrium of metabolic interconversions, estradiol is the principal intracellular human estrogen and is substantially more potent than its metabolites, estrone and estriol, at the receptor level.
The primary source of estrogen in normally cycling adult women is the ovarian follicle, which secrets 70 to 500 mcg of estradiol daily, depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle. After menopause, most endogenous estrogen is produced by conversion of androstenedione, secreted by the adrenal cortex, to estrone by the peripheral tissues. Thus, estrone and the sulfate conjugated form, estrone sulfate, are the most abundant circulating estrogens in postmenopausal women.
Estrogens act through binding to nuclear receptors in estrogen-responsive tissues. To date, two estrogen receptors have been identified. These vary in proportion from tissue to tissue.
Circulating estrogens modulate the pituitary secretion of the gonadotropins, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), through a negative feedback mechanism. Estrogens act to reduce the elevated levels of these hormones seen in postmenopausal women.
The distribution of exogenous estrogens is similar to that of endogenous estrogens. Estrogens are widely distributed in the body and are generally found in higher concentrations in the sex hormone target organs. Estrogens circulate in the blood largely bound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and albumin.
Exogenous estrogens are metabolized in the same manner as endogenous estrogens. Circulating estrogens exist in a dynamic equilibrium of metabolic interconversions. These transformations take place mainly in the liver. Estradiol is converted reversibly to estrone, and both can be converted to estriol, which is the major urinary metabolite. Estrogens also undergo enterohepatic recirculation via sulfate and glucuronide conjugation in the liver, biliary secretion of conjugates into the intestine, and hydrolysis in the gut followed by reabsorption. In postmenopausal women, a significant proportion of the circulating estrogens exist as sulfate conjugates, especially estrone sulfate, which serves as a circulating reservoir for the formulation of more active estrogens.
Estradiol, estrone, and estriol are excreted in the urine along with glucuronide and sulfate conjugates.
In vitro and in vivo studies have shown that estrogens are metabolized partially by cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4). Therefore, inducers or inhibitors of CYP3A4 may affect estrogen drug metabolism. Inducers of CYP3A4 such as St. John’s Wort preparations (Hypericum perforatum), phenobarbital, carbamazepine, and rifampin may reduce plasma concentrations of estrogens, possibly resulting in a decrease in therapeutic effects and/or changes in the uterine bleeding profile. Inhibitors of CYP3A4 such as erythromycin, clarithromycin, ketoconazole, itraconazole, ritonavir and grapefruit juice may increase plasma concentrations of estrogens and may result in side effects.
Women’s Health Initiative Studies
The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) enrolled a total of 27,000 predominantly healthy postmenopausal women to assess the risks and benefits of either the use of oral 0.625 mg conjugated estrogens (CE) per day alone or the use of oral 0.625 mg conjugated estrogens plus 2.5 mg medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) per day compared to placebo in the prevention of certain chronic diseases. The primary endpoint was the incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) (nonfatal myocardial infarction and CHD death), with invasive breast cancer as the primary adverse outcome studied. A “global index” included the earliest occurrence of CHD, invasive breast cancer, stroke, pulmonary embolism (PE), endometrial cancer, colorectal cancer, hip fracture, or death due to other cause. The study did not evaluate the effects of CE or CE/MPA on menopausal symptoms.
The CE/MPA substudy was stopped early because, according to the predefined stopping rule, the increased risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular events exceeded the specified benefits included in the “global index.” Results of the CE/MPA substudy, which included 16,608 women (average age of 63 years, range 50 to 79; 83.9% White, 6.5% Black, 5.5% Hispanic), after an average follow-up of 5.2 years are presented in Table 1 below:
|Eventc||Relative Risk CE/MPA vs placebo at 5.2 Years (95% CI*)||Placebo n = 8102||CE/MPA n = 8506|
|Absolute Risk per 10,000 Person-years|
|CHD events||1.29 (1.02-1.63)||30||37|
|Non-fatal MI||1.32 (1.02-1.72)||23||30|
|CHD death||1.18 (0.70-1.97)||6||7|
|Invasive breast cancerb||1.26 (1.00-1.59)||30||38|
|Pulmonary embolism||2.13 (1.39-3.25)||8||16|
|Colorectal cancer||0.63 (0.43-0.92)||16||10|
|Endometrial cancer||0.83 (0.47-1.47)||6||5|
|Hip fracture||0.66 (0.45-0.98)||15||10|
|Death due to causes other than the events above||0.92 (0.74-1.14)||40||37|
|Global Indexc||1.15 (1.03-1.28)||151||170|
|Deep vein thrombosisd||2.07 (1.49-2.87)||13||26|
|Vertebral fracturesd||0.66 (0.44-0.98)||15||9|
|Other osteoporotic fracturesd||0.77 (0.69-0.86)||170||131|
a adapted from JAMA, 2002; 288:321-333
b includes metastatic and non-metastatic breast cancer with the exception of in situ breast cancer
c a subset of the events was combined in a “global index”, defined as the earliest occurrence of CHD events, invasive breast cancer, stroke, pulmonary embolism, endometrial cancer, colorectal cancer, hip fracture, or death due to other causes
d not included in Global Index
* nominal confidence intervals unadjusted for multiple looks and multiple comparisons
For those outcomes included in the “global index,” absolute excess risks per 10,000 women-years in the group treated with CE/MPA were 7 more CHD events, 8 more strokes, 8 more PEs, and 8 more invasive breast cancers, while absolute risk reductions per 10,000 women-years were 6 fewer colorectal cancers and 5 fewer hip fractures. The absolute excess risk of events included in the “global index” was 19 per 10,000 women-years. There was no difference between the groups in terms of all-cause mortality. (See Boxed Warning, WARNINGS, and PRECAUTIONS.)
Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study
The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS), a substudy of WHI, enrolled 4,532 predominantly healthy postmenopausal women 65 years of age and older (47% were age 65 to 69 years, 35% were 70 to 74 years, and 18% were 75 years of age and older) to evaluate the effects of CE/MPA (0.625 mg conjugated estrogens plus 2.5 mg medroxyprogesterone acetate) on the incidence of probable dementia (primary outcome) compared with placebo. After an average follow-up of 4 years, 40 women in the estrogen/progestin group (45 per 10,000 women-years) and 21 in the placebo group (22 per 10,000 women-years) were diagnosed with probable dementia. The relative risk of probable dementia in the hormone therapy group was 2.05 (95% CI, 1.21 to 3.48) compared to placebo. Differences between groups became apparent in the first year of treatment. It is unknown whether these findings apply to younger postmenopausal women. (See Boxed Warning and WARNINGS, Dementia.)
0.3 mg yellow, film-coated oblong tablet imprinted with M72
100’s: NDC 61570-072-01
0.625 mg orange, film-coated oblong tablet imprinted with M73
100’s: NDC 61570-073-01
1.25 mg green, film-coated oblong tablet imprinted with M74
100’s: NDC 61570-074-01
2.5 mg pink, film-coated oblong tablet imprinted with M75
50’s: NDC 61570-075-50
Prescribing Information as of September 2010
(Updated June 2005)
(esterified estrogens tablets, USP)
Read this PATIENT INFORMATION before you start taking Menest and read what you get each time you refill Menest. There may be new information. This information does not take the place of talking to your healthcare provider about your medical condition or your treatment.
What is the most important information I should know about Menest (an estrogen hormone)?
- Estrogens increase the chances of getting cancer of the uterus. Report any unusual vaginal bleeding right away while you are taking estrogens. Vaginal bleeding after menopause may be a warning sign of cancer of the uterus (womb). Your healthcare provider should check any unusual vaginal bleeding to find out the cause.
- Do not use estrogens with or without progestins to prevent heart disease, heart attacks, or strokes.
Using estrogens with or without progestins may increase your chances of getting heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, and blood clots. Using estrogens with progestins may increase your risk of dementia. You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly about whether you still need treatment with Menest.
What is Menest used for?
Menest is used after menopause to:
- reduce moderate to severe hot flashes. Estrogens are hormones made by a woman’s ovaries. The ovaries normally stop making estrogens when a woman is between 45 to 55 years old. This drop in the body estrogen levels causes the “change of life” or menopause (the end of monthly menstrual periods). Sometimes, both ovaries are removed during an operation before natural menopause takes place. This sudden drop in estrogen levels causes “surgical menopause.”
When the estrogen levels begin dropping, some women develop very uncomfortable symptoms, such as feelings of warmth in the face, neck, and chest, or sudden strong feelings of heat and sweating (“hot flashes” or “hot flushes”). In some women, the symptoms are mild, and they will not need estrogens. In other women, symptoms can be more severe. You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly about whether you still need treatment with Menest.
- treat moderate to severe dryness, itching, and burning in and around the vagina. You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly about whether you still need treatment with Menest to control these problems. If you use Menest only to treat your dryness, itching, and burning in and around your vagina, talk with your healthcare provider about whether a topical vaginal product would be better for you.
- treat certain conditions in women before menopause if their ovaries do not make enough estrogen naturally.
- ease symptoms of certain cancers that have spread through the body, in men and women.
Who should not take Menest?
Do not start taking Menest if you:
- have unusual vaginal bleeding.
- currently have or have had certain cancers. Estrogens may increase the chances of getting certain types of cancers, including cancer of the breast or uterus. If you have or had cancer, talk with your healthcare provider about whether you should take Menest.
- had a stroke or heart attack in the past year.
- currently have or have had blood clots.
- currently have or have had liver problems.
- are allergic to Menest or any of its ingredients. See the end of this leaflet for a list of ingredients in Menest.
- think you may be pregnant.
Tell your healthcare provider:
- if you are breastfeeding. The hormone in Menest can pass into your milk.
- about all of your medical problems. Your healthcare provider may need to check you more carefully if you have certain conditions, such as asthma (wheezing), epilepsy (seizures), migraine, endometriosis, lupus, problems with your heart, liver, thyroid, kidneys, or have high calcium levels in your blood.
- about all of the medicines you take. This includes prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Some medicines may affect how Menest works. Menest may also affect how your other medicines work.
- if you are going to have surgery or will be on bed rest. You may need to stop taking estrogens.
How should I take Menest?
Your healthcare provider will select the lowest appropriate dose of Menest, determine how frequently it will be taken, and determine the length of time you will be treated, depending on your condition.
For treatment of postmenopausal symptoms, the lowest dose that will control symptoms will be selected and used for the shortest amount of time.
In general, you will take Menest for several weeks, skip a week, and then begin taking Menest again. Again, your healthcare provider will discuss with you the instructions for taking Menest.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose, and go back to your normal schedule. Do not take 2 doses at the same time.
Estrogens should be used only as long as needed. You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly (for example, every 3 to 6 months) about whether you still need treatment with Menest.
What are the possible side effects of estrogens?
Less common but serious side effects include:
- Breast cancer
- Cancer of the uterus
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
- Gallbladder disease
- Ovarian cancer
These are some of the warning signs of serious side effects:
- Breast lumps
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Dizziness and faintness
- Changes in speech
- Severe headaches
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Pains in your legs
- Changes in vision
Call your healthcare provider right away if you get any of these warning signs, or any other unusual symptom that concerns you.
Common side effects include:
- Breast pain
- Irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting
- Stomach/abdominal cramps, bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hair loss
Other side effects include:
- High blood pressure
- Liver problems
- High blood sugar
- Fluid retention
- Enlargement of benign tumors of the uterus (“fibroids”)
- Vaginal yeast infection
These are not all the possible side effects of Menest. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
What can I do to lower my chances of a serious side effect with Menest?
- Talk with your healthcare provider regularly about whether you should continue taking Menest. If you have a uterus, talk to your healthcare provider about whether the addition of a progestin is right for you.
- See your healthcare provider right away if you get vaginal bleeding while taking Menest.
- Have a breast exam and mammogram (breast X-ray) every year unless your healthcare provider tells you something else. If members of your family have had breast cancer or if you have ever had breast lumps or an abnormal mammogram, you may need to have breast exams more often.
- If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol (fat in the blood), diabetes, are overweight, or if you use tobacco, you may have higher chances for getting heart disease. Ask your healthcare provider for ways to lower your chances for getting heart disease.
General information about safe and effective use of Menest.
Medicines are sometimes prescribed for conditions that are not mentioned in patient information leaflets. Do not take Menest for conditions for which it was not prescribed. Do not give Menest to other people, even if they have the same symptoms you have. It may harm them. Keep Menest out of the reach of children.
This leaflet provides a summary of the most important information about Menest. If you would like more information, talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. You can ask for more information about Menest that is written for health professionals. You can get more information by calling the toll free number 1-800-776-3637, and select option 5.
What are the ingredients in Menest?
Menest is a mixture of esterified estrogens that are of the type excreted by pregnant mares. Menest also contains ethyl cellulose, fragrances, hydroxypropyl cellulose, hypromellose 2910, lactose, magnesium stearate, methylcellulose, polyethylene glycol, sodium bicarbonate, shellac, starch, stearic acid, titanium dioxide, and vanillin. The tablets come in different strengths; the color ingredients for each strength are:
0.3 mg Tablet: FD&C Yellow No. 6, D&C Yellow No. 10.
0.625 mg Tablet: FD&C Yellow No. 6, D&C Yellow No. 10.
1.25 mg Tablet: FD&C Yellow No. 6, D&C Yellow No. 10, and FD&C Blue No. 1.
2.5 mg Tablet: D&C Red No. 30.
Distributed by: Monarch Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Bristol, TN 37620
(A wholly owned subsidiary of King Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
Manufactured by: King Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Bristol, TN 37620