SOLU-CORTEF® Warnings and Precautions

(hydrocortisone sodium succinate)

WARNINGS

Serious Neurologic Adverse Reactions with Epidural Administration

Serious neurologic events, some resulting in death, have been reported with epidural injection of corticosteroids. Specific events reported include, but are not limited to, spinal cord infarction, paraplegia, quadriplegia, cortical blindness, and stroke. These serious neurologic events have been reported with and without use of fluoroscopy. The safety and effectiveness of epidural administration of corticosteroids have not been established, and corticosteroids are not approved for this use.

General:

Injection of SOLU-CORTEF may result in dermal and/or subdermal changes forming depressions in the skin at the injection site. In order to minimize the incidence of dermal and subdermal atrophy, care must be exercised not to exceed recommended doses in injections. Injection into the deltoid muscle should be avoided because of a high incidence of subcutaneous atrophy.

Rare instances of anaphylactoid reactions have occurred in patients receiving corticosteroid therapy (see ADVERSE REACTIONS).

Increased dosage of rapidly acting corticosteroids is indicated in patients on corticosteroid therapy subjected to any unusual stress before, during, and after the stressful situation.

Results from one multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled study with methylprednisolone hemisuccinate, an IV corticosteroid, showed an increase in early (at 2 weeks) and late (at 6 months) mortality in patients with cranial trauma who were determined not to have other clear indications for corticosteroid treatment. High doses of systemic corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF, should not be used for the treatment of traumatic brain injury.

Cardio-renal:

Average and large doses of corticosteroids can cause elevation of blood pressure, salt and water retention, and increased excretion of potassium. These effects are less likely to occur with the synthetic derivatives except when used in large doses. Dietary salt restriction and potassium supplementation may be necessary. All corticosteroids increase calcium excretion.

Literature reports suggest an apparent association between use of corticosteroids and left ventricular free wall rupture after a recent myocardial infarction; therefore, therapy with corticosteroids should be used with great caution in these patients.

There have been cases reported in which concomitant use of amphotericin B and hydrocortisone was followed by cardiac enlargement and congestive heart failure (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and PRECAUTIONS: Drug Interactions, Amphotericin B injection and potassium-depleting agents).

Endocrine:

Hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis suppression, Cushing's syndrome, and hyperglycemia. Monitor patients for these conditions with chronic use. Corticosteroids can produce reversible HPA axis suppression with the potential for glucocorticosteroid insufficiency after withdrawal of treatment. Drug induced secondary adrenocortical insufficiency may be minimized by gradual reduction of dosage. This type of relative insufficiency may persist for months after discontinuation of therapy; therefore, in any situation of stress occurring during that period, hormone therapy should be reinstituted.

Immunosuppression and Increased Risk of Infection

Corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF, suppress the immune system and increase the risk of infection with any pathogen, including viral, bacterial, fungal, protozoan, or helminthic pathogens. Corticosteroids can:

Reduce resistance to new infections
Exacerbate existing infections
Increase the risk of disseminated infections
Increase the risk of reactivation or exacerbation of latent infections
Mask some signs of infection

Corticosteroid-associated infections can be mild but can be severe and at times fatal. The rate of infectious complications increases with increasing corticosteroid dosages.

Monitor for the development of infection and consider SOLU-CORTEF withdrawal or dosage reduction as needed. Do not administer SOLU-CORTEF by an intraarticular, intrabursal, or intratendinous route in the presence of acute local infection.

Tuberculosis

If SOLU-CORTEF is used to treat a condition in patients with latent tuberculosis or tuberculin reactivity, reactivation of the disease may occur. Closely monitor such patients for reactivation. During prolonged SOLU-CORTEF therapy, patients with latent tuberculosis or tuberculin reactivity should receive chemoprophylaxis.

Varicella Zoster and Measles Viral Infections

Varicella and measles can have a serious or even fatal course in non-immune patients taking corticosteroids. In corticosteroid-treated patients who have not had these diseases or are nonimmune, particular care should be taken to avoid exposure to varicella and measles:

If a SOLU-CORTEF-treated patient is exposed to varicella, prophylaxis with varicella zoster immune globulin (VZIG) may be indicated. If varicella develops, treatment with antiviral agents may be considered.
If a SOLU-CORTEF-treated patient is exposed to measles, prophylaxis with immunoglobulin (IG) may be indicated.

Hepatitis B Virus Reactivation

Hepatitis B virus reactivation can occur in patients who are hepatitis B carriers treated with immunosuppressive dosages of corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF. Reactivation can also occur infrequently in corticosteroid-treated patients who appear to have resolved hepatitis B infection.

Screen patients for hepatitis B infection before initiating immunosuppressive (e.g., prolonged) treatment with SOLU-CORTEF. For patients who show evidence of hepatitis B infection, recommend consultation with physicians with expertise in managing hepatitis B regarding monitoring and consideration for hepatitis B antiviral therapy.

Fungal Infections

Corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF, may exacerbate systemic fungal infections; therefore, avoid SOLU-CORTEF use in the presence of such infections unless SOLU-CORTEF is needed to control drug reactions. For patients on chronic SOLU-CORTEF therapy who develop systemic fungal infections, SOLU-CORTEF withdrawal or dosage reduction is recommended.

Amebiasis

Corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF, may activate latent amebiasis. Therefore, it is recommended that latent amebiasis or active amebiasis be ruled out before initiating SOLU-CORTEF in patients who have spent time in the tropics or patients with unexplained diarrhea.

Strongyloides Infestation

Corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF, should be used with great care in patients with known or suspected Strongyloides (threadworm) infestation. In such patients, corticosteroid-induced immunosuppression may lead to Strongyloides hyperinfection and dissemination with widespread larval migration, often accompanied by severe enterocolitis and potentially fatal gram-negative septicemia.

Cerebral Malaria

Avoid corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF, in patients with cerebral malaria.

Vaccination:

Administration of live or live, attenuated vaccines is contraindicated in patients receiving immunosuppressive doses of corticosteroids. Killed or inactivated vaccines may be administered. However, the response to such vaccines cannot be predicted. Immunization procedures may be undertaken in patients who are receiving corticosteroids as replacement therapy (e.g., for Addison’s disease).

Neurologic:

Reports of severe medical events have been associated with the intrathecal route of administration (see ADVERSE REACTIONS, Neurologic/Psychiatric).

Ophthalmic:

Use of corticosteroids may produce posterior subcapsular cataracts, glaucoma with possible damage to the optic nerves, and may enhance the establishment of secondary ocular infections due to bacteria, fungi, or viruses. The use of oral corticosteroids is not recommended in the treatment of optic neuritis and may lead to an increase in the risk of new episodes. Corticosteroids should be used cautiously in patients with ocular herpes simplex because of corneal perforation. Corticosteroids should not be used in active ocular herpes simplex.

Kaposi’s Sarcoma:

Kaposi's sarcoma has been reported to occur in patients receiving corticosteroid therapy, most often for chronic conditions. Discontinuation of corticosteroids may result in clinical improvement of Kaposi’s sarcoma.

PRECAUTIONS

General:

The lowest possible dose of corticosteroid should be used to control the condition under treatment. When reduction in dosage is possible, the reduction should be gradual.

Since complications of treatment with glucocorticoids are dependent on the size of the dose and the duration of treatment, a risk/benefit decision must be made in each individual case as to dose and duration of treatment and as to whether daily or intermittent therapy should be used.

Cardio-renal:

As sodium retention with resultant edema and potassium loss may occur in patients receiving corticosteroids, these agents should be used with caution in patients with congestive heart failure, hypertension, or renal insufficiency.

Endocrine:

Drug-induced secondary adrenocortical insufficiency may be minimized by gradual reduction of dosage. This type of relative insufficiency may persist for months after discontinuation of therapy; therefore, in any situation of stress occurring during that period, hormone therapy should be reinstituted. Metabolic clearance of corticosteroids is decreased in hypothyroid patients and increased in hyperthyroid patients. Changes in thyroid status of the patient may necessitate adjustment in dosage.

Gastrointestinal:

Steroids should be used with caution in active or latent peptic ulcers, diverticulitis, fresh intestinal anastomoses, and non-specific ulcerative colitis, since they may increase the risk of a perforation. Signs of peritoneal irritation following gastrointestinal perforation in patients receiving corticosteroids may be minimal or absent.

There is an enhanced effect due to decreased metabolism of corticosteroids in patients with cirrhosis.

Musculoskeletal:

Corticosteroids decrease bone formation and increase bone resorption both through their effect on calcium regulation (e.g., decreasing absorption and increasing excretion) and inhibition of osteoblast function. This, together with a decrease in the protein matrix of the bone secondary to an increase in protein catabolism, and reduced sex hormone production, may lead to inhibition of bone growth in pediatric patients and the development of osteoporosis at any age. Special consideration should be given to patients at increased risk of osteoporosis (i.e., postmenopausal women) before initiating corticosteroid therapy.

Local injection of a steroid into a previously infected site is not usually recommended.

Neurologic-psychiatric:

An acute myopathy has been observed with the use of high doses of corticosteroids, most often occurring in patients with disorders of neuromuscular transmission (e.g., myasthenia gravis), or in patients receiving concomitant therapy with neuromuscular blocking drugs (e.g., pancuronium). This acute myopathy is generalized, may involve ocular and respiratory muscles, and may result in quadriparesis. Elevation of creatine kinase may occur. Clinical improvement or recovery after stopping corticosteroids may require weeks to years.

Psychic derangements may appear when corticosteroids are used, ranging from euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, and severe depression to frank psychotic manifestations. Also, existing emotional instability or psychotic tendencies may be aggravated by corticosteroids.

Ophthalmic:

Intraocular pressure may become elevated in some individuals. If steroid therapy is continued for more than 6 weeks, intraocular pressure should be monitored.

Other:

Pheochromocytoma crisis, which can be fatal, has been reported after administration of systemic corticosteroids. In patients with suspected pheochromocytoma, consider the risk of pheochromocytoma crisis prior to administering corticosteroids.

Tumor Lysis Syndrome:

In post marketing experience tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) has been reported in patients with malignancies, including hematological malignancies and solid tumors, following the use of systemic corticosteroids alone or in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents. Patients at high risk of TLS, such as patients with tumors that have a high proliferative rate, high tumor burden and high sensitivity to cytotoxic agents, should be monitored closely and appropriate precautions should be taken.

Information for Patients:

Patients should be warned not to discontinue the use of corticosteroids abruptly or without medical supervision, to advise any medical attendants that they are taking corticosteroids, and to seek medical advice at once should they develop fever or other signs of infection.

Persons who are on corticosteroids should be warned to avoid exposure to chicken pox or measles. Patients should also be advised that if they are exposed, medical advice should be sought without delay.

Drug Interactions:

Aminoglutethimide: Aminoglutethimide may lead to a loss of corticosteroid-induced adrenal suppression. Amphotericin B injection and potassium-depleting agents: When corticosteroids are administered concomitantly with potassium-depleting agents (e.g., amphotericin B, diuretics), patients should be observed closely for development of hypokalemia. There have been cases reported in which concomitant use of amphotericin B and hydrocortisone was followed by cardiac enlargement and congestive heart failure.

Antibiotics: Macrolide antibiotics have been reported to cause a significant decrease in corticosteroid clearance (see PRECAUTIONS: Drug Interactions, Hepatic Enzyme Inhibitors).

Anticholinesterases: Concomitant use of anticholinesterase agents and corticosteroids may produce severe weakness in patients with myasthenia gravis. If possible, anticholinesterase agents should be withdrawn at least 24 hours before initiating corticosteroid therapy.

Anticoagulants, oral: Coadministration of corticosteroids and warfarin usually results in inhibition of response to warfarin, although there have been some conflicting reports. Therefore, coagulation indices should be monitored frequently to maintain the desired anticoagulant effect.

Antidiabetics: Because corticosteroids may increase blood glucose concentrations, dosage adjustments of antidiabetic agents may be required.

Antitubercular drugs: Serum concentrations of isoniazid may be decreased.

Cholestyramine: Cholestyramine may increase the clearance of corticosteroids.

Cyclosporine: Increased activity of both cyclosporine and corticosteroids may occur when the two are used concurrently. Convulsions have been reported with this concurrent use.

Digitalis glycosides: Patients on digitalis glycosides may be at increased risk of arrhythmias due to hypokalemia.

Estrogens, including oral contraceptives: Estrogens may decrease the hepatic metabolism of certain corticosteroids, thereby increasing their effect.

Hepatic Enzyme Inducers (e.g., barbiturates, phenytoin, carbamazepine, rifampin): Drugs that induce cytochrome P450 3A4 enzyme activity may enhance the metabolism of corticosteroids and require that the dosage of the corticosteroid be increased.

Hepatic Enzyme Inhibitors (e.g., ketoconazole, macrolide antibiotics such as erythromycin and troleandomycin): Drugs that inhibit cytochrome P450 3A4 have the potential to result in increased plasma concentrations of corticosteroids.

Ketoconazole: Ketoconazole has been reported to significantly decrease the metabolism of certain corticosteroids by up to 60%, leading to an increased risk of corticosteroid side effects.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Concomitant use of aspirin (or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents) and corticosteroids increases the risk of gastrointestinal side effects. Aspirin should be used cautiously in conjunction with corticosteroids in hypoprothrombinemia. The clearance of salicylates may be increased with concurrent use of corticosteroids.

Skin tests: Corticosteroids may suppress reactions to skin tests.

Vaccines: Patients on prolonged corticosteroid therapy may exhibit a diminished response to toxoids and live or inactivated vaccines due to inhibition of antibody response. Corticosteroids may also potentiate the replication of some organisms contained in live attenuated vaccines. Routine administration of vaccines or toxoids should be deferred until corticosteroid therapy is discontinued if possible (see WARNINGS: Immunosuppression and Increased Risk of Infection, Vaccination).

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility:

No adequate studies have been conducted in animals to determine whether corticosteroids have a potential for carcinogenesis or mutagenesis.

Steroids may increase or decrease motility and number of spermatozoa in some patients.

Corticosteroids have been shown to impair fertility in male rats.

Pregnancy:

Teratogenic Effects

Corticosteroids have been shown to be teratogenic in many species when given in doses equivalent to the human dose. Animal studies in which corticosteroids have been given to pregnant mice, rats, and rabbits have yielded an increased incidence of cleft palate in the offspring. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Corticosteroids should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Infants born to mothers who have received corticosteroids during pregnancy should be carefully observed for signs of hypoadrenalism.

Nursing Mothers:

Systemically administered corticosteroids appear in human milk and could suppress growth, interfere with endogenous corticosteroid production, or cause other untoward effects. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from corticosteroids, a decision should be made whether to continue nursing or discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use:

The efficacy and safety of corticosteroids in the pediatric population are based on the well-established course of effect of corticosteroids, which is similar in pediatric and adult populations. Published studies provide evidence of efficacy and safety in pediatric patients for the treatment of nephrotic syndrome (>2 years of age) and aggressive lymphomas and leukemias (>1 month of age). Other indications for pediatric use of corticosteroids (e.g., severe asthma and wheezing) are based on adequate and well-controlled trials conducted in adults, on the premises that the course of the diseases and their pathophysiology are considered to be substantially similar in both populations.

The adverse effects of corticosteroids in pediatric patients are similar to those in adults (see ADVERSE REACTIONS). Like adults, pediatric patients should be carefully observed with frequent measurements of blood pressure, weight, height, intraocular pressure, and clinical evaluation for the presence of infection, psychosocial disturbances, thromboembolism, peptic ulcers, cataracts, and osteoporosis. Pediatric patients who are treated with corticosteroids by any route, including systemically administered corticosteroids, may experience a decrease in their growth velocity. This negative impact of corticosteroids on growth has been observed at low systemic doses and in the absence of laboratory evidence of HPA axis suppression (i.e., cosyntropin stimulation and basal cortisol plasma levels). Growth velocity may therefore be a more sensitive indicator of systemic corticosteroid exposure in pediatric patients than some commonly used tests of HPA axis function. The linear growth of pediatric patients treated with corticosteroids should be monitored, and the potential growth effects of prolonged treatment should be weighed against clinical benefits obtained and the availability of treatment alternatives. In order to minimize the potential growth effects of corticosteroids, pediatric patients should be titrated to the lowest effective dose.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy was reported after administration of hydrocortisone to prematurely born infants, therefore appropriate diagnostic evaluation and monitoring of cardiac function and structure should be performed.

Geriatric Use:

Clinical studies did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.

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Warnings and Precautions

WARNINGS

Serious Neurologic Adverse Reactions with Epidural Administration

Serious neurologic events, some resulting in death, have been reported with epidural injection of corticosteroids. Specific events reported include, but are not limited to, spinal cord infarction, paraplegia, quadriplegia, cortical blindness, and stroke. These serious neurologic events have been reported with and without use of fluoroscopy. The safety and effectiveness of epidural administration of corticosteroids have not been established, and corticosteroids are not approved for this use.

General:

Injection of SOLU-CORTEF may result in dermal and/or subdermal changes forming depressions in the skin at the injection site. In order to minimize the incidence of dermal and subdermal atrophy, care must be exercised not to exceed recommended doses in injections. Injection into the deltoid muscle should be avoided because of a high incidence of subcutaneous atrophy.

Rare instances of anaphylactoid reactions have occurred in patients receiving corticosteroid therapy (see ADVERSE REACTIONS).

Increased dosage of rapidly acting corticosteroids is indicated in patients on corticosteroid therapy subjected to any unusual stress before, during, and after the stressful situation.

Results from one multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled study with methylprednisolone hemisuccinate, an IV corticosteroid, showed an increase in early (at 2 weeks) and late (at 6 months) mortality in patients with cranial trauma who were determined not to have other clear indications for corticosteroid treatment. High doses of systemic corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF, should not be used for the treatment of traumatic brain injury.

Cardio-renal:

Average and large doses of corticosteroids can cause elevation of blood pressure, salt and water retention, and increased excretion of potassium. These effects are less likely to occur with the synthetic derivatives except when used in large doses. Dietary salt restriction and potassium supplementation may be necessary. All corticosteroids increase calcium excretion.

Literature reports suggest an apparent association between use of corticosteroids and left ventricular free wall rupture after a recent myocardial infarction; therefore, therapy with corticosteroids should be used with great caution in these patients.

There have been cases reported in which concomitant use of amphotericin B and hydrocortisone was followed by cardiac enlargement and congestive heart failure (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and PRECAUTIONS: Drug Interactions, Amphotericin B injection and potassium-depleting agents).

Endocrine:

Hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis suppression, Cushing's syndrome, and hyperglycemia. Monitor patients for these conditions with chronic use. Corticosteroids can produce reversible HPA axis suppression with the potential for glucocorticosteroid insufficiency after withdrawal of treatment. Drug induced secondary adrenocortical insufficiency may be minimized by gradual reduction of dosage. This type of relative insufficiency may persist for months after discontinuation of therapy; therefore, in any situation of stress occurring during that period, hormone therapy should be reinstituted.

Immunosuppression and Increased Risk of Infection

Corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF, suppress the immune system and increase the risk of infection with any pathogen, including viral, bacterial, fungal, protozoan, or helminthic pathogens. Corticosteroids can:

Reduce resistance to new infections
Exacerbate existing infections
Increase the risk of disseminated infections
Increase the risk of reactivation or exacerbation of latent infections
Mask some signs of infection

Corticosteroid-associated infections can be mild but can be severe and at times fatal. The rate of infectious complications increases with increasing corticosteroid dosages.

Monitor for the development of infection and consider SOLU-CORTEF withdrawal or dosage reduction as needed. Do not administer SOLU-CORTEF by an intraarticular, intrabursal, or intratendinous route in the presence of acute local infection.

Tuberculosis

If SOLU-CORTEF is used to treat a condition in patients with latent tuberculosis or tuberculin reactivity, reactivation of the disease may occur. Closely monitor such patients for reactivation. During prolonged SOLU-CORTEF therapy, patients with latent tuberculosis or tuberculin reactivity should receive chemoprophylaxis.

Varicella Zoster and Measles Viral Infections

Varicella and measles can have a serious or even fatal course in non-immune patients taking corticosteroids. In corticosteroid-treated patients who have not had these diseases or are nonimmune, particular care should be taken to avoid exposure to varicella and measles:

If a SOLU-CORTEF-treated patient is exposed to varicella, prophylaxis with varicella zoster immune globulin (VZIG) may be indicated. If varicella develops, treatment with antiviral agents may be considered.
If a SOLU-CORTEF-treated patient is exposed to measles, prophylaxis with immunoglobulin (IG) may be indicated.

Hepatitis B Virus Reactivation

Hepatitis B virus reactivation can occur in patients who are hepatitis B carriers treated with immunosuppressive dosages of corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF. Reactivation can also occur infrequently in corticosteroid-treated patients who appear to have resolved hepatitis B infection.

Screen patients for hepatitis B infection before initiating immunosuppressive (e.g., prolonged) treatment with SOLU-CORTEF. For patients who show evidence of hepatitis B infection, recommend consultation with physicians with expertise in managing hepatitis B regarding monitoring and consideration for hepatitis B antiviral therapy.

Fungal Infections

Corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF, may exacerbate systemic fungal infections; therefore, avoid SOLU-CORTEF use in the presence of such infections unless SOLU-CORTEF is needed to control drug reactions. For patients on chronic SOLU-CORTEF therapy who develop systemic fungal infections, SOLU-CORTEF withdrawal or dosage reduction is recommended.

Amebiasis

Corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF, may activate latent amebiasis. Therefore, it is recommended that latent amebiasis or active amebiasis be ruled out before initiating SOLU-CORTEF in patients who have spent time in the tropics or patients with unexplained diarrhea.

Strongyloides Infestation

Corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF, should be used with great care in patients with known or suspected Strongyloides (threadworm) infestation. In such patients, corticosteroid-induced immunosuppression may lead to Strongyloides hyperinfection and dissemination with widespread larval migration, often accompanied by severe enterocolitis and potentially fatal gram-negative septicemia.

Cerebral Malaria

Avoid corticosteroids, including SOLU-CORTEF, in patients with cerebral malaria.

Vaccination:

Administration of live or live, attenuated vaccines is contraindicated in patients receiving immunosuppressive doses of corticosteroids. Killed or inactivated vaccines may be administered. However, the response to such vaccines cannot be predicted. Immunization procedures may be undertaken in patients who are receiving corticosteroids as replacement therapy (e.g., for Addison’s disease).

Neurologic:

Reports of severe medical events have been associated with the intrathecal route of administration (see ADVERSE REACTIONS, Neurologic/Psychiatric).

Ophthalmic:

Use of corticosteroids may produce posterior subcapsular cataracts, glaucoma with possible damage to the optic nerves, and may enhance the establishment of secondary ocular infections due to bacteria, fungi, or viruses. The use of oral corticosteroids is not recommended in the treatment of optic neuritis and may lead to an increase in the risk of new episodes. Corticosteroids should be used cautiously in patients with ocular herpes simplex because of corneal perforation. Corticosteroids should not be used in active ocular herpes simplex.

Kaposi’s Sarcoma:

Kaposi's sarcoma has been reported to occur in patients receiving corticosteroid therapy, most often for chronic conditions. Discontinuation of corticosteroids may result in clinical improvement of Kaposi’s sarcoma.

PRECAUTIONS

General:

The lowest possible dose of corticosteroid should be used to control the condition under treatment. When reduction in dosage is possible, the reduction should be gradual.

Since complications of treatment with glucocorticoids are dependent on the size of the dose and the duration of treatment, a risk/benefit decision must be made in each individual case as to dose and duration of treatment and as to whether daily or intermittent therapy should be used.

Cardio-renal:

As sodium retention with resultant edema and potassium loss may occur in patients receiving corticosteroids, these agents should be used with caution in patients with congestive heart failure, hypertension, or renal insufficiency.

Endocrine:

Drug-induced secondary adrenocortical insufficiency may be minimized by gradual reduction of dosage. This type of relative insufficiency may persist for months after discontinuation of therapy; therefore, in any situation of stress occurring during that period, hormone therapy should be reinstituted. Metabolic clearance of corticosteroids is decreased in hypothyroid patients and increased in hyperthyroid patients. Changes in thyroid status of the patient may necessitate adjustment in dosage.

Gastrointestinal:

Steroids should be used with caution in active or latent peptic ulcers, diverticulitis, fresh intestinal anastomoses, and non-specific ulcerative colitis, since they may increase the risk of a perforation. Signs of peritoneal irritation following gastrointestinal perforation in patients receiving corticosteroids may be minimal or absent.

There is an enhanced effect due to decreased metabolism of corticosteroids in patients with cirrhosis.

Musculoskeletal:

Corticosteroids decrease bone formation and increase bone resorption both through their effect on calcium regulation (e.g., decreasing absorption and increasing excretion) and inhibition of osteoblast function. This, together with a decrease in the protein matrix of the bone secondary to an increase in protein catabolism, and reduced sex hormone production, may lead to inhibition of bone growth in pediatric patients and the development of osteoporosis at any age. Special consideration should be given to patients at increased risk of osteoporosis (i.e., postmenopausal women) before initiating corticosteroid therapy.

Local injection of a steroid into a previously infected site is not usually recommended.

Neurologic-psychiatric:

An acute myopathy has been observed with the use of high doses of corticosteroids, most often occurring in patients with disorders of neuromuscular transmission (e.g., myasthenia gravis), or in patients receiving concomitant therapy with neuromuscular blocking drugs (e.g., pancuronium). This acute myopathy is generalized, may involve ocular and respiratory muscles, and may result in quadriparesis. Elevation of creatine kinase may occur. Clinical improvement or recovery after stopping corticosteroids may require weeks to years.

Psychic derangements may appear when corticosteroids are used, ranging from euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, and severe depression to frank psychotic manifestations. Also, existing emotional instability or psychotic tendencies may be aggravated by corticosteroids.

Ophthalmic:

Intraocular pressure may become elevated in some individuals. If steroid therapy is continued for more than 6 weeks, intraocular pressure should be monitored.

Other:

Pheochromocytoma crisis, which can be fatal, has been reported after administration of systemic corticosteroids. In patients with suspected pheochromocytoma, consider the risk of pheochromocytoma crisis prior to administering corticosteroids.

Tumor Lysis Syndrome:

In post marketing experience tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) has been reported in patients with malignancies, including hematological malignancies and solid tumors, following the use of systemic corticosteroids alone or in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents. Patients at high risk of TLS, such as patients with tumors that have a high proliferative rate, high tumor burden and high sensitivity to cytotoxic agents, should be monitored closely and appropriate precautions should be taken.

Information for Patients:

Patients should be warned not to discontinue the use of corticosteroids abruptly or without medical supervision, to advise any medical attendants that they are taking corticosteroids, and to seek medical advice at once should they develop fever or other signs of infection.

Persons who are on corticosteroids should be warned to avoid exposure to chicken pox or measles. Patients should also be advised that if they are exposed, medical advice should be sought without delay.

Drug Interactions:

Aminoglutethimide: Aminoglutethimide may lead to a loss of corticosteroid-induced adrenal suppression. Amphotericin B injection and potassium-depleting agents: When corticosteroids are administered concomitantly with potassium-depleting agents (e.g., amphotericin B, diuretics), patients should be observed closely for development of hypokalemia. There have been cases reported in which concomitant use of amphotericin B and hydrocortisone was followed by cardiac enlargement and congestive heart failure.

Antibiotics: Macrolide antibiotics have been reported to cause a significant decrease in corticosteroid clearance (see PRECAUTIONS: Drug Interactions, Hepatic Enzyme Inhibitors).

Anticholinesterases: Concomitant use of anticholinesterase agents and corticosteroids may produce severe weakness in patients with myasthenia gravis. If possible, anticholinesterase agents should be withdrawn at least 24 hours before initiating corticosteroid therapy.

Anticoagulants, oral: Coadministration of corticosteroids and warfarin usually results in inhibition of response to warfarin, although there have been some conflicting reports. Therefore, coagulation indices should be monitored frequently to maintain the desired anticoagulant effect.

Antidiabetics: Because corticosteroids may increase blood glucose concentrations, dosage adjustments of antidiabetic agents may be required.

Antitubercular drugs: Serum concentrations of isoniazid may be decreased.

Cholestyramine: Cholestyramine may increase the clearance of corticosteroids.

Cyclosporine: Increased activity of both cyclosporine and corticosteroids may occur when the two are used concurrently. Convulsions have been reported with this concurrent use.

Digitalis glycosides: Patients on digitalis glycosides may be at increased risk of arrhythmias due to hypokalemia.

Estrogens, including oral contraceptives: Estrogens may decrease the hepatic metabolism of certain corticosteroids, thereby increasing their effect.

Hepatic Enzyme Inducers (e.g., barbiturates, phenytoin, carbamazepine, rifampin): Drugs that induce cytochrome P450 3A4 enzyme activity may enhance the metabolism of corticosteroids and require that the dosage of the corticosteroid be increased.

Hepatic Enzyme Inhibitors (e.g., ketoconazole, macrolide antibiotics such as erythromycin and troleandomycin): Drugs that inhibit cytochrome P450 3A4 have the potential to result in increased plasma concentrations of corticosteroids.

Ketoconazole: Ketoconazole has been reported to significantly decrease the metabolism of certain corticosteroids by up to 60%, leading to an increased risk of corticosteroid side effects.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Concomitant use of aspirin (or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents) and corticosteroids increases the risk of gastrointestinal side effects. Aspirin should be used cautiously in conjunction with corticosteroids in hypoprothrombinemia. The clearance of salicylates may be increased with concurrent use of corticosteroids.

Skin tests: Corticosteroids may suppress reactions to skin tests.

Vaccines: Patients on prolonged corticosteroid therapy may exhibit a diminished response to toxoids and live or inactivated vaccines due to inhibition of antibody response. Corticosteroids may also potentiate the replication of some organisms contained in live attenuated vaccines. Routine administration of vaccines or toxoids should be deferred until corticosteroid therapy is discontinued if possible (see WARNINGS: Immunosuppression and Increased Risk of Infection, Vaccination).

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility:

No adequate studies have been conducted in animals to determine whether corticosteroids have a potential for carcinogenesis or mutagenesis.

Steroids may increase or decrease motility and number of spermatozoa in some patients.

Corticosteroids have been shown to impair fertility in male rats.

Pregnancy:

Teratogenic Effects

Corticosteroids have been shown to be teratogenic in many species when given in doses equivalent to the human dose. Animal studies in which corticosteroids have been given to pregnant mice, rats, and rabbits have yielded an increased incidence of cleft palate in the offspring. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Corticosteroids should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Infants born to mothers who have received corticosteroids during pregnancy should be carefully observed for signs of hypoadrenalism.

Nursing Mothers:

Systemically administered corticosteroids appear in human milk and could suppress growth, interfere with endogenous corticosteroid production, or cause other untoward effects. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from corticosteroids, a decision should be made whether to continue nursing or discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use:

The efficacy and safety of corticosteroids in the pediatric population are based on the well-established course of effect of corticosteroids, which is similar in pediatric and adult populations. Published studies provide evidence of efficacy and safety in pediatric patients for the treatment of nephrotic syndrome (>2 years of age) and aggressive lymphomas and leukemias (>1 month of age). Other indications for pediatric use of corticosteroids (e.g., severe asthma and wheezing) are based on adequate and well-controlled trials conducted in adults, on the premises that the course of the diseases and their pathophysiology are considered to be substantially similar in both populations.

The adverse effects of corticosteroids in pediatric patients are similar to those in adults (see ADVERSE REACTIONS). Like adults, pediatric patients should be carefully observed with frequent measurements of blood pressure, weight, height, intraocular pressure, and clinical evaluation for the presence of infection, psychosocial disturbances, thromboembolism, peptic ulcers, cataracts, and osteoporosis. Pediatric patients who are treated with corticosteroids by any route, including systemically administered corticosteroids, may experience a decrease in their growth velocity. This negative impact of corticosteroids on growth has been observed at low systemic doses and in the absence of laboratory evidence of HPA axis suppression (i.e., cosyntropin stimulation and basal cortisol plasma levels). Growth velocity may therefore be a more sensitive indicator of systemic corticosteroid exposure in pediatric patients than some commonly used tests of HPA axis function. The linear growth of pediatric patients treated with corticosteroids should be monitored, and the potential growth effects of prolonged treatment should be weighed against clinical benefits obtained and the availability of treatment alternatives. In order to minimize the potential growth effects of corticosteroids, pediatric patients should be titrated to the lowest effective dose.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy was reported after administration of hydrocortisone to prematurely born infants, therefore appropriate diagnostic evaluation and monitoring of cardiac function and structure should be performed.

Geriatric Use:

Clinical studies did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.

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