5 WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS
5.1 Increased Susceptibility to Infection and the Possible Development of Lymphoma
Increased susceptibility to infection and the possible development of lymphoma and other malignancies, particularly of the skin, may result from immunosuppression. The rates of lymphoma/lymphoproliferative disease observed in Studies 1 and 2 were 0.7–3.2% (for Rapamune-treated patients) versus 0.6–0.8% (azathioprine and placebo control) [see Adverse Reactions (6.1) and (6.2)]. Oversuppression of the immune system can also increase susceptibility to infection, including opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis, fatal infections, and sepsis. Only physicians experienced in immunosuppressive therapy and management of organ transplant patients should use Rapamune for prophylaxis of organ rejection in patients receiving renal transplants. Patients receiving the drug should be managed in facilities equipped and staffed with adequate laboratory and supportive medical resources. The physician responsible for maintenance therapy should have complete information requisite for the follow-up of the patient.
5.2 Liver Transplantation – Excess Mortality, Graft Loss, and Hepatic Artery Thrombosis
The safety and efficacy of Rapamune as immunosuppressive therapy have not been established in liver transplant patients; therefore, such use is not recommended. The use of Rapamune has been associated with adverse outcomes in patients following liver transplantation, including excess mortality, graft loss and hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT).
In a study in de novo liver transplant patients, the use of Rapamune in combination with tacrolimus was associated with excess mortality and graft loss (22% in combination versus 9% on tacrolimus alone). Many of these patients had evidence of infection at or near the time of death.
In this and another study in de novo liver transplant patients, the use of Rapamune in combination with cyclosporine or tacrolimus was associated with an increase in HAT (7% in combination versus 2% in the control arm); most cases of HAT occurred within 30 days post-transplantation, and most led to graft loss or death.
In a clinical study in stable liver transplant patients 6–144 months post-liver transplantation and receiving a CNI-based regimen, an increased number of deaths was observed in the group converted to a Rapamune-based regimen compared to the group who was continued on a CNI-based regimen, although the difference was not statistically significant (3.8% versus 1.4%) [see Clinical Studies (14.5)].
5.3 Lung Transplantation – Bronchial Anastomotic Dehiscence
Cases of bronchial anastomotic dehiscence, most fatal, have been reported in de novo lung transplant patients when Rapamune has been used as part of an immunosuppressive regimen.
The safety and efficacy of Rapamune as immunosuppressive therapy have not been established in lung transplant patients; therefore, such use is not recommended.
5.4 Hypersensitivity Reactions
Hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylactic/anaphylactoid reactions, angioedema, exfoliative dermatitis and hypersensitivity vasculitis, have been associated with the administration of Rapamune [see Adverse Reactions (6.7)].
Rapamune has been associated with the development of angioedema. The concomitant use of Rapamune with other drugs known to cause angioedema, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, may increase the risk of developing angioedema. Elevated sirolimus levels (with/without concomitant ACE inhibitors) may also potentiate angioedema [see Drug Interactions (7.2)]. In some cases, the angioedema has resolved upon discontinuation or dose reduction of Rapamune.
5.6 Fluid Accumulation and Impairment of Wound Healing
There have been reports of impaired or delayed wound healing in patients receiving Rapamune, including lymphocele and wound dehiscence [see Adverse Reactions (6.1)]. Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors such as sirolimus have been shown in vitro to inhibit production of certain growth factors that may affect angiogenesis, fibroblast proliferation, and vascular permeability. Lymphocele, a known surgical complication of renal transplantation, occurred significantly more often in a dose-related fashion in patients treated with Rapamune [see Adverse Reactions (6.1)]. Appropriate measures should be considered to minimize such complications. Patients with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2 may be at increased risk of abnormal wound healing based on data from the medical literature.
There have also been reports of fluid accumulation, including peripheral edema, lymphedema, pleural effusion, ascites, and pericardial effusions (including hemodynamically significant effusions and tamponade requiring intervention in children and adults), in patients receiving Rapamune.
Increased serum cholesterol and triglycerides requiring treatment occurred more frequently in patients treated with Rapamune compared with azathioprine or placebo controls in Studies 1 and 2 [see Adverse Reactions (6.1)]. There were increased incidences of hypercholesterolemia (43–46%) and/or hypertriglyceridemia (45–57%) in patients receiving Rapamune compared with placebo controls (each 23%). The risk/benefit should be carefully considered in patients with established hyperlipidemia before initiating an immunosuppressive regimen including Rapamune.
Any patient who is administered Rapamune should be monitored for hyperlipidemia. If detected, interventions such as diet, exercise, and lipid-lowering agents should be initiated as outlined by the National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines.
In clinical trials of patients receiving Rapamune plus cyclosporine or Rapamune after cyclosporine withdrawal, up to 90% of patients required treatment for hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia with anti-lipid therapy (e.g., statins, fibrates). Despite anti-lipid management, up to 50% of patients had fasting serum cholesterol levels >240 mg/dL and triglycerides above recommended target levels. The concomitant administration of Rapamune and HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors resulted in adverse reactions such as CPK elevations (3%), myalgia (6.7%) and rhabdomyolysis (<1%). In these trials, the number of patients was too small and duration of follow-up too short to evaluate the long-term impact of Rapamune on cardiovascular mortality.
During Rapamune therapy with or without cyclosporine, patients should be monitored for elevated lipids, and patients administered an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor and/or fibrate should be monitored for the possible development of rhabdomyolysis and other adverse effects, as described in the respective labeling for these agents.
5.8 Decline in Renal Function
Renal function should be closely monitored during the co-administration of Rapamune with cyclosporine, because long-term administration of the combination has been associated with deterioration of renal function. Patients treated with cyclosporine and Rapamune were noted to have higher serum creatinine levels and lower glomerular filtration rates compared with patients treated with cyclosporine and placebo or azathioprine controls (Studies 1 and 2). The rate of decline in renal function in these studies was greater in patients receiving Rapamune and cyclosporine compared with control therapies.
Appropriate adjustment of the immunosuppressive regimen, including discontinuation of Rapamune and/or cyclosporine, should be considered in patients with elevated or increasing serum creatinine levels. In patients at low- to moderate-immunologic risk, continuation of combination therapy with cyclosporine beyond 4 months following transplantation should only be considered when the benefits outweigh the risks of this combination for the individual patients. Caution should be exercised when using agents (e.g., aminoglycosides and amphotericin B) that are known to have a deleterious effect on renal function.
In patients with delayed graft function, Rapamune may delay recovery of renal function.
Periodic quantitative monitoring of urinary protein excretion is recommended. In a study evaluating conversion from calcineurin inhibitors (CNI) to Rapamune in maintenance renal transplant patients 6–120 months post-transplant, increased urinary protein excretion was commonly observed from 6 through 24 months after conversion to Rapamune compared with CNI continuation [see Clinical Studies (14.4), Adverse Reactions (6.4)]. Patients with the greatest amount of urinary protein excretion prior to Rapamune conversion were those whose protein excretion increased the most after conversion. New onset nephrosis (nephrotic syndrome) was also reported as a treatment-emergent adverse reaction in 2.2% of the Rapamune conversion group patients in comparison to 0.4% in the CNI continuation group of patients. Nephrotic range proteinuria (defined as urinary protein to creatinine ratio >3.5) was also reported in 9.2% in the Rapamune conversion group of patients in comparison to 3.7% in the CNI continuation group of patients. In some patients, reduction in the degree of urinary protein excretion was observed for individual patients following discontinuation of Rapamune. The safety and efficacy of conversion from calcineurin inhibitors to Rapamune in maintenance renal transplant patients have not been established.
5.10 Latent Viral Infections
Immunosuppressed patients are at increased risk for opportunistic infections, including activation of latent viral infections. These include BK virus-associated nephropathy, which has been observed in renal transplant patients receiving immunosuppressants, including Rapamune. This infection may be associated with serious outcomes, including deteriorating renal function and renal graft loss [see Adverse Reactions (6.7)]. Patient monitoring may help detect patients at risk for BK virus-associated nephropathy. Reduction in immunosuppression should be considered for patients who develop evidence of BK virus-associated nephropathy.
Cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), sometimes fatal have been reported in patients treated with immunosuppressants, including Rapamune. PML commonly presents with hemiparesis, apathy, confusion, cognitive deficiencies and ataxia. Risk factors for PML include treatment with immunosuppressant therapies and impairment of immune function. In immunosuppressed patients, physicians should consider PML in the differential diagnosis in patients reporting neurological symptoms and consultation with a neurologist should be considered as clinically indicated. Consideration should be given to reducing the amount of immunosuppression in patients who develop PML. In transplant patients, physicians should also consider the risk that reduced immunosuppression represents to the graft.
5.11 Interstitial Lung Disease/Non-Infectious Pneumonitis
Cases of interstitial lung disease [ILD] (including pneumonitis, bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia [BOOP], and pulmonary fibrosis), some fatal, with no identified infectious etiology have occurred in patients receiving immunosuppressive regimens including Rapamune. In some cases, the ILD was reported with pulmonary hypertension (including pulmonary arterial hypertension [PAH]) as a secondary event. In some cases, the ILD has resolved upon discontinuation or dose reduction of Rapamune. The risk may be increased as the trough sirolimus concentration increases [see Adverse Reactions (6.7)].
5.12 De Novo Use Without Cyclosporine
The safety and efficacy of de novo use of Rapamune without cyclosporine is not established in renal transplant patients. In a multicenter clinical study, de novo renal transplant patients treated with Rapamune, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), steroids, and an IL-2 receptor antagonist had significantly higher acute rejection rates and numerically higher death rates compared to patients treated with cyclosporine, MMF, steroids, and IL-2 receptor antagonist. A benefit, in terms of better renal function, was not apparent in the treatment arm with de novo use of Rapamune without cyclosporine. These findings were also observed in a similar treatment group of another clinical trial.
5.13 Increased Risk of Calcineurin Inhibitor-Induced Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome/Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura/Thrombotic Microangiopathy
The concomitant use of Rapamune with a calcineurin inhibitor may increase the risk of calcineurin inhibitor-induced hemolytic uremic syndrome/thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura/thrombotic microangiopathy (HUS/TTP/TMA) [see Adverse Reactions (6.7)].
5.14 Antimicrobial Prophylaxis
Cases of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia have been reported in transplant patients not receiving antimicrobial prophylaxis. Therefore, antimicrobial prophylaxis for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia should be administered for 1 year following transplantation.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) prophylaxis is recommended for 3 months after transplantation, particularly for patients at increased risk for CMV disease.
5.15 Embryo-Fetal Toxicity
Based on animal studies and the mechanism of action [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.1)], Rapamune can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. In animal studies, sirolimus caused embryo-fetal toxicity when administered during the period of organogenesis at maternal exposures that were equal to or less than human exposures at the recommended lowest starting dose. Advise pregnant women of the potential risk to a fetus. Advise female patients of reproductive potential to avoid becoming pregnant and to use highly effective contraception while using Rapamune and for 12 weeks after ending treatment [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1)].
5.16 Male Infertility
Azoospermia or oligospermia may be observed [see Adverse Reactions (6.7), Nonclinical Toxicology (13.1)]. Rapamune is an anti-proliferative drug and affects rapidly dividing cells like the germ cells.
5.17 Different Sirolimus Trough Concentration Reported between Chromatographic and Immunoassay Methodologies
Currently in clinical practice, sirolimus whole blood concentrations are being measured by various chromatographic and immunoassay methodologies. Patient sample concentration values from different assays may not be interchangeable [see Dosage and Administration (2.5)].
5.18 Skin Cancer Events
Patients on immunosuppressive therapy are at increased risk for skin cancer. Exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) light should be limited by wearing protective clothing and using a broad spectrum sunscreen with a high protection factor [see Adverse Reactions (6.1, 6.2, 6.7)].
The use of live vaccines should be avoided during treatment with Rapamune; live vaccines may include, but are not limited to, the following: measles, mumps, rubella, oral polio, BCG, yellow fever, varicella, and TY21a typhoid. Immunosuppressants may affect response to vaccination. Therefore, during treatment with Rapamune, vaccination may be less effective.
5.20 Interaction with Strong Inhibitors and Inducers of CYP3A4 and/or P-gp
Avoid concomitant use of Rapamune with strong inhibitors of CYP3A4 and/or P-gp (such as ketoconazole, voriconazole, itraconazole, erythromycin, telithromycin, or clarithromycin) or strong inducers of CYP3A4 and/or P-gp (such as rifampin or rifabutin) [see Drug Interactions (7.2)].
5.21 Cannabidiol Drug Interactions
When cannabidiol and Rapamune are co-administered, closely monitor for an increase in sirolimus blood levels and for adverse reactions suggestive of sirolimus toxicity. A dose reduction of Rapamune should be considered as needed when Rapamune is co-administered with cannabidiol [see Dosage and Administration (2.5) and Drug Interactions (7.5)].