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topotecan injection Clinical Pharmacology


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Topoisomerase I relieves torsional strain in DNA by inducing reversible single-strand breaks. Topotecan binds to the topoisomerase I-DNA complex and prevents re-ligation of these single-strand breaks. The cytotoxicity of topotecan is thought to be due to double-strand DNA damage produced during DNA synthesis, when replication enzymes interact with the ternary complex formed by topotecan, topoisomerase I, and DNA. Mammalian cells cannot efficiently repair these double-strand breaks.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics

Following administration of topotecan at doses of 0.5 to 1.5 mg/m2 (0.3 to 1 times the recommended dose) administered as a 30-minute infusion, area under the curve (AUC) increases approximately proportional with dose.


Protein binding of topotecan is approximately 35%.


The terminal half-life of topotecan is 2 to 3 hours following intravenous administration.


Topotecan undergoes a reversible pH-dependent hydrolysis of its pharmacologically active lactone moiety. At pH ≤ 4, the lactone is exclusively present, whereas the ring-opened hydroxy-acid form predominates at physiologic pH. Topotecan is metabolized to an N-demethylated metabolite in vitro. The mean metabolite: parent AUC ratio was about 3% for total topotecan and topotecan lactone following intravenous administration.


The overall recovery of total topotecan and its N-desmethyl metabolite in urine and feces over 9 days averaged 73% ± 2% following an intravenous dose. Mean values of 51% ± 3% as total topotecan and 3% ± 1% as N-desmethyl topotecan were excreted in the urine. Fecal elimination of total topotecan accounted for 18% ± 4% while fecal elimination of N-desmethyl topotecan was 1.7% ± 0.6%. An O-glucuronidation metabolite of topotecan and N-desmethyl topotecan has been identified in the urine.

Specific Populations

No clinically significant differences in the pharmacokinetics of topotecan were observed based on age, sex, or hepatic impairment following intravenous administration.

Patients with Renal Impairment

Compared to patients with CLcr > 60 mL/min (calculated by the Cockcroft-Gault method using ideal body weight), plasma clearance of topotecan lactone decreased by 33% in patients with CLcr 40 to 60 mL/min and decreased by 65% in patients with CLcr 20 to 39 mL/min. The effect on topotecan pharmacokinetics in patients with CLcr < 20 mL/min is unknown [see Dosage and Administration (2.4)].

Drug Interaction Studies

Clinical Studies

No clinically significant changes in topotecan pharmacokinetics were observed when coadministered cisplatin.

No clinically significant changes in the pharmacokinetics of free platinum were observed in patients coadministered cisplatin with topotecan.

In Vitro Studies

Topotecan does not inhibit CYP1A2, CYP2A6, CYP2C8/9, CYP2C19, CYP2D6, CYP2E, CYP3A, or CYP4A or dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase.

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