Educational materials for the healthcare professional (doctor or pharmacist)
Please read the full Summary of Product Characteristics before prescribing Envarsus
- 1. Name of the medicinal product
- 2. Qualitative and quantitative composition
- 3. Pharmaceutical form
- 4. Clinical particulars
- 4.1 Therapeutic indications
- 4.2 Posology and method of administration
- 4.3 Contraindications
- 4.4 Special warnings and precautions for use
- 4.5 Interaction with other medicinal products and other forms of interaction
- 4.6 Fertility, pregnancy and lactation
- 4.7 Effects on ability to drive and use machines
- 4.8 Undesirable effects
- 4.9 Overdose
- 5. Pharmacological properties
- 5.1 Pharmacodynamic properties
- 5.2 Pharmacokinetic properties
- 5.3 Preclinical safety data
- 6. Pharmaceutical particulars
- 6.1 List of excipients
- 6.2 Incompatibilities
- 6.3 Shelf life
- 6.4 Special precautions for storage
- 6.5 Nature and contents of container
- 6.6 Special precautions for disposal and other handling
- 7. Marketing authorisation holder
- 8. Marketing authorisation number(s)
- 9. Date of first authorisation/renewal of the authorisation
- 10. Date of revision of the text
Envarsus 0.75 mg prolonged-release tabletsEach prolonged-release tablet contains 0.75 mg tacrolimus (as monohydrate).
Excipient with known effect:Each tablet contains 41.7 mg lactose (as monohydrate).
Envarsus 1 mg prolonged-release tabletsEach prolonged-release tablet contains 1 mg tacrolimus (as monohydrate).
Excipient with known effect:Each tablet contains 41.7 mg lactose (as monohydrate).
Envarsus 4 mg prolonged-release tabletsEach prolonged-release tablet contains 4 mg tacrolimus (as monohydrate).
Excipient with known effect:Each tablet contains 104 mg lactose (as monohydrate). For the full list of excipients, see section 6.1.
PosologyThe recommended initial doses presented below are intended to act solely as a guideline. Envarsus is routinely administered in conjunction with other immunosuppressive agents in the initial post-operative period. The dose may vary depending upon the immunosuppressive regimen chosen. Envarsus dosing should primarily be based on clinical assessments of rejection and tolerability in each patient individually aided by blood level monitoring (see below under Therapeutic drug monitoring). If clinical signs of rejection are apparent, alteration of the immunosuppressive regimen should be considered.As tacrolimus is a substance with low clearance, adjustments to the Envarsus dose regimen may take several days before steady state is achieved.To suppress graft rejection, immunosuppression must be maintained; consequently, no limit to the duration of oral therapy can be given.Envarsus doses are usually reduced in the post-transplant period. Post-transplant changes in the condition of the patient may alter the pharmacokinetics of tacrolimus and may necessitate further dose adjustments.A forgotten dose should be taken as soon as possible on the same day. A double dose should not be taken on the next day.
Prophylaxis of kidney transplant rejectionEnvarsus therapy should commence at a dose of 0.17 mg/kg/day administered once daily in the morning. Administration should commence within 24 hours after the completion of surgery.
Prophylaxis of liver transplant rejectionEnvarsus therapy should commence at a dose of 0.11 0.13 mg/kg/day administered once daily in the morning. Administration should commence within 24 hours after the completion of surgery.
Conversion of Prograf- or Advagraf-treated patients to Envarsus - allograft transplant patientsAllograft transplant patients maintained on twice daily Prograf (immediate-release) or Advagraf (once daily) dosing requiring conversion to once daily Envarsus should be converted on a 1:0.7 (mg:mg) total daily dose basis and the Envarsus maintenance dose should, therefore, be 30% less than the Prograf or Advagraf dose. Envarsus should be administered in the morning. In stable patients converted from tacrolimus immediate-release products (twice daily) to Envarsus (once daily) on a 1:0.7 (mg:mg) total daily dose basis, the mean systemic exposure to tacrolimus (AUC0-24) was similar to that of immediate-release tacrolimus. The relationship between tacrolimus trough levels (C24) and systemic exposure (AUC0-24) for Envarsus is similar to that of immediate-release tacrolimus. No studies have been conducted with conversion of patients from Advagraf to Envarsus; however, data from healthy volunteers would suggest that the same conversion rate is applicable as with the conversion from Prograf to Envarsus.When converting from tacrolimus immediate-release products (e.g. Prograf capsules) or from Advagraf prolonged-release capsules to Envarsus, trough levels should be measured prior to conversion and within two weeks after conversion. Dose adjustments should be made to ensure that similar systemic exposure is maintained after the switch. It should be noted that black patients may require a higher dose to achieve the targeted trough levels.
Conversion from ciclosporin to tacrolimusCare should be taken when converting patients from ciclosporin-based to tacrolimus-based therapy (see sections 4.4 and 4.5). The combined administration of ciclosporin and tacrolimus is not recommended. Envarsus therapy should be initiated after considering ciclosporin blood concentrations and the clinical condition of the patient. Dosing should be delayed in the presence of elevated ciclosporin blood levels. In practice, tacrolimus-based therapy has been initiated 12 to 24 hours after discontinuation of ciclosporin. Monitoring of ciclosporin blood levels should be continued following conversion as the clearance of ciclosporin might be affected.
Treatment of allograft rejectionIncreased doses of tacrolimus, supplemental corticosteroid therapy, and introduction of short courses of mono-/polyclonal antibodies have all been used to manage rejection episodes. If signs of toxicity such as severe adverse reactions are noted (see section 4.8), the dose of Envarsus may need to be reduced.
Treatment of allograft rejection after kidney or liver transplantationFor conversion from other immunosuppressants to once daily Envarsus, treatment should begin with the initial oral dose recommended in kidney and liver transplantation respectively for prophylaxis of transplant rejection.
Therapeutic drug monitoringDosing should primarily be based on clinical assessments of rejection and tolerability in each individual patient aided by whole blood tacrolimus trough level monitoring.As an aid to optimise dosing, several immunoassays are available for determining tacrolimus concentrations in whole blood. Comparisons of concentrations from the published literature to individual values in clinical practice should be assessed with care and knowledge of the assay methods employed. In current clinical practice, whole blood levels are monitored using immunoassay methods. The relationship between tacrolimus trough levels and systemic exposure (AUC0-24) is well correlated and is similar between the immediate-release formulation and Envarsus.Blood trough levels of tacrolimus should be monitored during the post-transplantation period. Tacrolimus blood trough levels should be determined approximately 24 hours post-dosing of Envarsus, just prior to the next dose. Blood trough levels of tacrolimus should also be closely monitored following conversion from tacrolimus products, dose adjustments, changes in the immunosuppressive regimen, or co-administration of substances which may alter tacrolimus whole blood concentrations (see section 4.5). The frequency of blood level monitoring should be based on clinical needs. As tacrolimus is a substance with low clearance, following adjustments to the Envarsus dose regimen it may take several days before the targeted steady state is achieved.Data from clinical studies suggest that the majority of patients can be successfully managed if tacrolimus blood trough levels are maintained below 20 ng/mL. It is necessary to consider the clinical condition of the patient when interpreting whole blood levels. In clinical practice, whole blood trough levels have generally been in the range of 5-20 ng/mL in kidney transplant patients in the early post-transplant period, and 5-15 ng/mL during subsequent maintenance therapy.
Hepatic impairmentDose reduction may be necessary in patients with severe liver impairment in order to maintain the tacrolimus blood trough levels within the recommended target range.
Renal impairmentAs the pharmacokinetics of tacrolimus are unaffected by renal function (see section 5.2), no dose adjustment is required. However, owing to the nephrotoxic potential of tacrolimus, careful monitoring of renal function is recommended (including serial serum creatinine concentrations, calculation of creatinine clearance, and monitoring of urine output).
RaceIn comparison to Caucasians, black patients may require higher tacrolimus doses to achieve similar trough levels. In clinical studies patients converted from twice daily Prograf were converted to Envarsus at 1: 0.85 (mg:mg)
GenderThere is no evidence that male and female patients require different doses to achieve similar trough levels.
Elderly patients (> 65 years)There is no evidence currently available to indicate that dose should be adjusted in elderly patients.
Paediatric populationThe safety and efficacy of Envarsus in children below 18 years of age have not yet been established. No data are available.
Method of administrationEnvarsus is a once-a-day oral formulation of tacrolimus. It is recommended that the oral daily dose of Envarsus is administered once daily. Patients should be advised not to swallow the desiccant. The tablets should be swallowed whole with fluid (preferably water) immediately following removal from the blister. Envarsus should generally be taken on an empty stomach to achieve maximal absorption (see section 5.2). Envarsus is not interchangeable with other existing tacrolimus containing medicines (immediate release or prolonged release) on an equal dose by dose basis.
Gastrointestinal disordersGastrointestinal perforation has been reported in patients treated with tacrolimus. As gastrointestinal perforation is a medically important event that may lead to a life-threatening or serious condition, adequate treatments should be considered immediately after suspected symptoms or signs occur.Since levels of tacrolimus in blood may significantly change during diarrhoea episodes, extra monitoring of tacrolimus concentrations is recommended during episodes of diarrhoea
Cardiac disordersVentricular hypertrophy or hypertrophy of the septum, reported as cardiomyopathies, have been observed in tacrolimus treated patients on rare occasions. Most cases have been reversible, occurring with tacrolimus blood trough concentrations much higher than the recommended maximum levels. Other factors observed to increase the risk of these clinical conditions included preexisting heart disease, corticosteroid usage, hypertension, renal or hepatic dysfunction, infections, fluid overload, and oedema. Accordingly, high-risk patients receiving substantial immunosuppression should be monitored, using such procedures as echocardiography or ECG pre- and post-transplant (e.g. initially at 3 months and then at 9-12 months). If abnormalities develop, dose reduction of Envarsus or change of treatment to another immunosuppressive agent should be considered. Tacrolimus may prolong the QT interval but at this time lacks substantial evidence for causing Torsades de Pointes. Caution should be exercised in patients with diagnosed or suspected Congenital Long QT Syndrome.
Lymphoproliferative disorders and malignanciesPatients treated with tacrolimus have been reported to develop EBV-associated lymphoproliferative disorders (see section 4.8). A combination of immunosuppressives, such as antilymphocytic antibodies (e.g. basiliximab, daclizumab), given concomitantly increases the risk of EBV-associated lymphoproliferative disorders. EBV-Viral Capsid Antigen (VCA)-negative patients have been reported to have an increased risk of developing lymphoproliferative disorders. Therefore, in this patient group, EBV-VCA serology should be ascertained before starting treatment with Envarsus. During treatment, careful monitoring with EBV-PCR is recommended. Positive EBV-PCR may persist for months and is per se not indicative of lymphoproliferative disease or lymphoma.As with other potent immunosuppressive compounds, the risk of secondary cancer is unknown (see section 4.8).As with other immunosuppressive agents, owing to the potential risk of malignant skin changes, exposure to sunlight and UV light should be limited by wearing protective clothing and using a sunscreen with a high protection factor.Patients treated with immunosuppressants, including Envarsus are at increased risk for opportunistic infections (bacterial, fungal, viral, and protozoal). Among these conditions are BK virus associated nephropathy and JC virus associated progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). These infections are often related to a high total immunosuppressive burden and may lead to serious or fatal conditions that physicians should consider in the differential diagnosis in immunosuppressed patients with deteriorating renal function or neurological symptoms.Patients treated with tacrolimus have been reported to develop posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES). If patients taking tacrolimus present with symptoms indicating PRES such as headache, altered mental status, seizures, and visual disturbances, a radiological procedure (e.g. MRI) should be performed. If PRES is diagnosed, adequate blood pressure and seizure control, and immediate discontinuation of systemic tacrolimus is advised. Most patients completely recover after appropriate measures are taken.
Pure Red Cell AplasiaCases of pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) have been reported in patients treated with tacrolimus. All patients reported risk factors for PRCA such as parvovirus B19 infection, underlying disease or concomitant medicinal product associated with PRCA.
Special populationsThere is limited experience in non-Caucasian patients and patients at elevated immunological risk (e.g. retransplantation, evidence of panel reactive antibodies, PRA).Dose reduction may be necessary in patients with severe liver impairment (see section 4.2). ExcipientsEnvarsus contains lactose. Patients with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, the Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption should not take this medicinal product.
Paediatric populationEnvarsus is not recommended for use in children below 18 years of age due to the limited data on safety and/or efficacy
CYP3A4 inhibitors potentially leading to increased tacrolimus blood levelsClinically, the following substances have been shown to increase tacrolimus blood levels:Strong interactions have been observed with antifungal agents such as ketoconazole, fluconazole, itraconazole, and voriconazole; the macrolide antibiotic erythromycin; HIV protease inhibitors (e.g. ritonavir, nelfinavir, saquinavir) or Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) protease inhibitors (e.g. telaprevir, boceprevir). Concomitant use of these substances may require decreased tacrolimus doses in nearly all patients.Pharmacokinetics studies have indicated that the increase in blood levels is mainly a result of increase in oral bioavailability of tacrolimus owing to the inhibition of gastrointestinal metabolism. Effect on hepatic clearance is less pronouncedWeaker interactions have been observed with clotrimazole, clarithromycin, josamycin, nifedipine, nicardipine, diltiazem, verapamil, amiodarone, danazol, ethinylestradiol, omeprazole, and nefazodone.In vitro the following substances have been shown to be potential inhibitors of tacrolimus metabolism: bromocriptine, cortisone, dapsone, ergotamine, gestodene, lidocaine, mephenytoin, miconazole, midazolam, nilvadipine, norethindrone, quinidine, tamoxifen, and (triacetyl)oleandomycin.Grapefruit juice has been reported to increase the blood level of tacrolimus and should, therefore be avoided.Lansoprazol and ciclosporin may potentially inhibit CYP3A4-mediated metabolism of tacrolimus and, thereby, increase tacrolimus whole blood concentrations.
Other interactions potentially leading to increased tacrolimus blood levelsTacrolimus is extensively bound to plasma proteins. Possible interactions with other active substances known to have high affinity for plasma proteins should be considered (e.g. NSAIDs, oral anticoagulants, or oral antidiabetics).Other potential interactions that may increase systemic exposure of tacrolimus include prokinetic agents (such as metoclopramide and cisapride), cimetidine, and magnesium-aluminium-hydroxide.
CYP3A4 inducers potentially leading to decreased tacrolimus blood levelsClinically, the following substances have been shown to decrease tacrolimus blood levels:Interactions have been observed with rifampicin, phenytoin, and St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) which may require increased tacrolimus doses in almost all patients. Clinically significant interactions have also been observed with phenobarbital. Maintenance doses of corticosteroids have been shown to reduce tacrolimus blood levels.High dose prednisolone or methylprednisolone administered for the treatment of acute rejection have the potential to increase or decrease tacrolimus blood levels.Carbamazepine, metamizole, and isoniazid have the potential to decrease tacrolimus concentrations.
Effect of tacrolimus on the metabolism of other medicinal productsTacrolimus is a known CYP3A4 inhibitor; thus concomitant use of tacrolimus with medicinal products known to be metabolised by CYP3A4 may affect the metabolism of such medicinal products.The half-life of ciclosporin is prolonged when tacrolimus is given concomitantly. In addition, synergistic/additive nephrotoxic effects can occur. For these reasons, the combined administration of ciclosporin and tacrolimus is not recommended, and care should be taken when administering tacrolimus to patients who have previously received ciclosporin (see sections 4.2 and 4.4).Tacrolimus has been shown to increase the blood level of phenytoin.As tacrolimus may reduce the clearance of steroid-based contraceptives leading to increased hormone exposure, particular care should be exercised when deciding upon contraceptive measures.Limited knowledge of interactions between tacrolimus and statins is available. Clinical data suggest that the pharmacokinetics of statins are largely unaltered by the co-administration of tacrolimus.Animal data have shown that tacrolimus could potentially decrease the clearance and increase the half-life of pentobarbital and antipyrine.
Other interactions leading to clinically detrimental effectsConcurrent use of tacrolimus with medicinal products known to have nephrotoxic or neurotoxic effects may increase these effects (e.g. aminoglycosides, gyrase inhibitors, vancomycin, cotrimoxazole, NSAIDs, ganciclovir, or aciclovir).Enhanced nephrotoxicity has been observed following the administration of amphotericin B and ibuprofen in conjunction with tacrolimus.As tacrolimus treatment may be associated with hyperkalaemia, or may increase pre-existing hyperkalaemia, high potassium intake, or potassium-sparing diuretics (e.g. amiloride, triamterene, or spironolactone) should be avoided (see section 4.4).Immunosuppressants may affect the response to vaccination, and vaccination during treatment with tacrolimus may be less effective. The use of live attenuated vaccines should be avoided (see section 4.4).
Paediatric populationInteraction studies have only been performed in adults
PregnancyHuman data show that tacrolimus crosses the placenta. Limited data from organ transplant recipients show no evidence of an increased risk of adverse events on the course and outcome of pregnancy under tacrolimus treatment compared with other immunosuppressive medicinal products. However, cases of spontaneous abortion have been reported. To date, no other relevant epidemiological data are available. Tacrolimus treatment can be considered in pregnant women when there is no safer alternative, and when the perceived benefit justifies the potential risk to the foetus. In case of in utero exposure, monitoring of the newborn for potential adverse events of tacrolimus is recommended (in particular, effects on the kidneys). There is a risk for premature delivery (<37 week) (incidence of 66 of 123 births, i.e. 53.7%; however, data showed that the majority of the newborns had normal birth weight for their gestational age) as well as for hyperkalaemia in the newborn (incidence 8 of 111 neonates, i.e. 7.2 %) which, however normalises spontaneously.In rats and rabbits, tacrolimus caused embryofoetal toxicity at doses which demonstrated maternal toxicity (see section 5.3).
Breast-feedingHuman data demonstrate that tacrolimus is excreted in breast milk. As detrimental effects on the newborn cannot be excluded, women should not breast-feed whilst receiving Envarsus.
FertilityA negative effect of tacrolimus on male fertility in the form of reduced sperm count and motility was observed in rats (see section 5.3).
Summary of the safety profileThe adverse reaction profile associated with immunosuppressive agents is often difficult to establish owing to the underlying disease and the concurrent use of multiple medicinal products. The most commonly reported adverse reactions for tacrolimus (occurring in >10% of patients) are tremor, renal impairment, hyperglycaemic conditions, diabetes mellitus, hyperkalaemia, infections, hypertension and insomnia.
List of adverse reactionsThe frequency of adverse reactions is defined as follows: very common (≥1/10); common (≥1/100 to <1/10); uncommon (≥1/1,000 to <1/100); rare (≥1/10,000 to <1/1,000); very rare (<1/10,000); not known (cannot be estimated from the available data). Within each frequency grouping, undesirable effects are presented in order of decreasing seriousness.
Infections and infestationsAs is well known for other potent immunosuppressive agents, patients receiving tacrolimus are frequently at increased risk for infections (viral, bacterial, fungal, protozoal). The course of pre-existing infections may be aggravated. Both generalised and localised infections can occur.Cases of BK virus associated nephropathy, as well as cases of JC virus associated progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), have been reported in patients treated with immunosuppressants, including tacrolimus.
Neoplasms benign, malignant and unspecified (incl. cysts and polyps)Patients receiving immunosuppressive therapy are at increased risk of developing malignancies. Benign as well as malignant neoplasms including EBV-associated lymphoproliferative disorders and skin malignancies have been reported in association with tacrolimus treatment.
Immune system disordersAllergic and anaphylactoid reactions have been observed in patients receiving tacrolimus (see section 4.4).
|System Organ Class||Frequency of adverse reactions|
|Very common||Common||Uncommon||Rare||Very rare||Not known|
|Blood and lymphatic system disorders||anaemia, thrombocyte-penia, leukopenia, red blood cell analyses abnormal, leukocytosis||coagulo-pathies, pancytopenia, neutropenia, coagulation and bleeding analyses, abnormal||thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, hypopro-thrombinaemia||pure red cell aplasia, agranulo-cytosis, haemolytic anaemia|
|Metabolism and nutrition disorders||diabetes mellitus, hyper-glycaemic conditions, hyper-kalaemia||anorexia, metabolic acidoses, other electrolyte ab-normalities, hyponatraemia, fluid overload, hyperuricaemia, hypo-magnes-aemia, hypo-kalaemia, hypocalcemia, appetite decreased, hypercholest-erolaemia, hyperlipidaemia, hypertri-glycerid-aemia, hypophos-phateaemia||dehydration, hypo-glycaemia, hypoprotein-aemia, hyperphos-phataemia|
|Psychiatric disorders||insomnia||confusion and disorientation, depression, anxiety symptoms, hallucination, mental disorders, depressed mood, mood disorders and disturbances, nightmare||psychotic disorder|
|Nervous system disorders||headache, tremor||nervous system disorders seizures, disturbances in consciousness, peripheral neuropathies, dizziness, paraesthesias and dysaesthesias, writing impaired||encephalo-pathy, central nervous system haemorrhages and cerebrovascular accidents, coma, speech and language abnormalities, paralysis and paresis, amnesia||hypertonia||myasthenia|
|Eye disorders||eye disorders, vision blurred, photophobia||cataract||blindness|
|Ear and labyrinth disorders||tinnitus||hypoacusis||deafness neurosensory||hearing impaired|
|Cardiac disorders||ischaemic coronary artery disorders, tachycardia||heart failures, ventricular arrhythmias and cardiac arrest, supraventricular arrhythmias, cardiomyo-pathies, ECG investigations abnormal, ventricular hypertrophy, palpitations, heart rate and pulse investigations abnormal||pericardial effusion||Echo-cardiogram abnormal|
|Vascular disorders||hypertension||thromboembolic and ischaemic events, vascular hypotensive disorders, haemorrhage, peripheral vascular disorders||venous thrombosis deep limb, shock, infarction|
|Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders||parenchymal lung disorders, dyspnoea, pleural effusion, cough, pharyngitis, nasal congestion and inflammations||respiratory failures, respiratory tract disorders, asthma||acute respiratory distress syndrome|
|Gastrointestinal disorders||diarrhoea, nausea||gastrointestinal signs and symptoms, vomiting, gastro-intestinal and abdominal pains, gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions, gastrointestinal haemorrhages, gastrointestinal ulceration and perforation, ascites, stomatitis and ulceration, constipation, dyspeptic signs and symptoms, flatulence, bloating and distension, loose stools||acute and chronic pancreatitis, peritonitis, blood amylase increased, ileus paralytic, gastrooeso-phageal reflux disease, impaired gastric emptying||pancreatic pseudocyst, subileus|
|Hepatobiliary disorders||liver function tests abnormal||bile duct disorders, hepatocellular damage and hepatitis, cholestasis and jaundice||veno-occlusive liver disease, hepatitic artery thrombosis||hepatic failure|
|Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders||rash, pruritus, alopecias, acne, sweating increased||dermatitis, photosensitivity||toxic epidermal necrolysis (Lyell's syndrome)||Stevens Johnson syndrome|
|Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders||arthralgia, back pain, muscle cramps, pain in limb||joint disorders|
|Renal and urinary disorders||renal impairment||renal failure, renal failure acute, nephropathy toxic, renal tubular necrosis, urinary ab-normalities, oliguria, bladder and urethral symptoms||haemolytic uraemic syndrome, anuria||nephropathy, cystitis haemorrhagic|
|Reproductive system and breast disorders||dysmen-orrhoea and uterine bleeding|
|General disorders and administration site conditions||febrile disorders, pain and discomfort, asthenic conditions, oedema, body temperature perception disturbed, blood alkaline phosphatase increased, weight increased||weight decreased, influenza like illness, blood lactate dehydrogenase increased, feeling jittery, feeling abnormal, multi-organ failure, chest pressure sensation, temperature intolerance||fall, ulcer, chest tightness, mobility decreased, thirst||fat tissue increased|
|Injury, poisoning and procedural complications||primary graft dysfunction|
Reporting of suspected adverse reactionsReporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme in the UK, Website: www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard or in Ireland to HPRA Pharmacovigilance, Earlsfort Terrace, IRL Dublin 2; Tel: +353 1 6764971; Fax: +353 1 6762517; Website: www.hpra.ie; e-mail: email@example.com.
Mechanism of actionAt the molecular level, the effects of tacrolimus appear to be mediated by binding to a cytosolic protein (FKBP12) which is responsible for the intracellular accumulation of the compound. The FKBP12-tacrolimus complex specifically and competitively binds to and inhibits calcineurin, leading to a calcium-dependent inhibition of T-cell signal transduction pathways, thereby preventing transcription of a discrete set of cytokine genes.
Pharmacodynamic effectTacrolimus is a highly potent immunosuppressive agent and has proven activity in both in vitro and in vivo experiments.In particular, tacrolimus inhibits the formation of cytotoxic lymphocytes, which are mainly responsible for graft rejection. Tacrolimus suppresses T-cell activation and T-helper-cell dependent B-cell proliferation, as well as the formation of lymphokines (such as interleukins-2, -3, and γ-interferon) and the expression of the interleukin-2 receptor.
Clinical efficacy and safety
Results from clinical trials performed with once-daily tacrolimus, Envarsus
Kidney transplantationThe efficacy and safety of Envarsus and Prograf, both in combination with Mycophenolate Mofetil (MMF) corticosteroids, and IL-2 receptor antagonist as per the standard of care was compared in a randomised, double-blind, double-dummy study, in 543 de novo kidney transplant recipients. The percentage of patients with one or greater than one episodes of clinically-suspected and treated rejections during the 360-day study was 13.8% for the Envarsus group(N=268) and 15.6% for the Prograf group (N=275). The event rate for centrally-read, biopsy-confirmed acute rejection (BPAR) during the 360-day study was 13.1% in the Envarsus group (N=268) and 13.5% in the Prograf group (N=275). The efficacy failure rate as measured by the composite endpoint of death, graft loss, centrally read BPAR and loss to follow-up was 18.3% in the Envarsus group and 19.6% in the Prograf group. The treatment difference (Envarsus-Prograf) was -1.35% (95% confidence interval [-7.94%,5.27%]). Treatment-emergent fatal adverse events occurred in 1.8% of Envarsus patients and 2.5% of Prograf patients.The efficacy and safety of Envarsus and Prograf, both in combination with mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) or mycophenolate sodium (MPS) and corticosteroids, was compared in 324 stable kidney transplant recipients. The event rate for locally read biopsy-confirmed acute rejection (BPAR) during the 360 day study was 1.2% in the Envarsus group (N=162) post conversion from Prograf at a dose ratio of 1: 0.7 (mg:mg) and 1.2% in the group maintained on Prograf (N=162). The efficacy failure rate as measured by the composite endpoint of death, graft loss, locally read BPAR and loss to follow-up was 2.5% in both the Envarsus and Prograf groups. The treatment difference (Envarsus - Prograf) was 0% (95% confidence interval [-4.21%, 4.21%]). The treatment failure rate using the same composite end-point with centrally read BPAR was 1.9% in the Envarsus group and 3.7% in the Prograf group (95% confidence interval [-6.51%, 2.31%]). Treatment emergent fatal adverse events occurred in 1.2% of Envarsus patients and 0.6% of Prograf patients.
Liver transplantationThe pharmacokinetics, efficacy and safety of Envarsus and tacrolimus immediate-release capsules , both in combination with corticosteroids was compared in 117 liver transplant recipients, of whom 88 received treatment with Envarsus. In the de novo liver transplant study, 29 subjects were treated with Envarsus. The event rate of biopsy-confirmed acute rejection within the 360 day study period was not significantly different between the Envarsus group and the tacrolimus immediate-release group. The overall incidence of fatal treatment emergent adverse events for the combined de novo and stable liver transplant population was not significantly different between the Envarsus group and the tacrolimus immediate-release group
AbsorptionThe oral bioavailability of Envarsus was decreased when the product was administered after a meal; the extent of absorption was decreased by 55% and the maximum plasma concentration was decreased by 22% when taken directly after a high-fat meal. Therefore, Envarsus should generally be taken on an empty stomach to achieve maximal absorption.In man tacrolimus has been shown to be able to be absorbed throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Available tacrolimus is generally rapidly absorbed. Envarsus is a prolonged-release formulation of tacrolimus resulting in an extended oral absorption profile with an average time to maximum blood concentration (Cmax) of approximately 6 hours (tmax) at steady state. Absorption is variable and the mean oral bioavailability of tacrolimus is in the range of 20%-25% (individual range in adult patients 6%-43%). The oral bioavailability is approximately 40% higher for Envarsus as compared to the same dose of tacrolimus immediate-release formulation (Prograf) in kidney transplant patients. Higher Cavg (~50%), reduced peak trough fluctuation (Cmax/Cmin) and a longer Tmax were seen for Envarsus when compared with both, tacrolimus immediate-release formulation (Prograf) and a tacrolimus once daily formulation (Advagraf). Mean values for Cmax, percentage degree of fluctuation and percentage degree of swing were significantly lower with administration of Envarsus tablets.A strong correlation exists between AUC and whole blood trough levels at steady-state for Envarsus. Monitoring of whole blood trough levels therefore provides a good estimate of systemic exposure.In vitro test results indicate that there is no risk of in vivo dose dumping related to alcohol intake.
DistributionIn man, the disposition of tacrolimus after intravenous infusion may be described as biphasic.In the systemic circulation, tacrolimus binds strongly to erythrocytes resulting in an approximate 20:1 distribution ratio of whole blood/plasma concentrations. In plasma, tacrolimus is highly bound (>98.8%) to plasma proteins, mainly to serum albumin and α-1-acid glycoprotein.Tacrolimus is extensively distributed in the body. The steady-state volume of distribution based on plasma concentrations is approximately 1,300 L (healthy subjects). Corresponding data based on whole blood averaged 47.6 L.
BiotransformationTacrolimus is widely metabolised in the liver, primarily by the cytochrome P450-3A4. Tacrolimus is also considerably metabolised in the intestinal wall. There are several metabolites identified. Only one of these has been shown in vitro to have immunosuppressive activity similar to that of tacrolimus. The other metabolites have only weak or no immunosuppressive activity. In systemic circulation only one of the inactive metabolites is present at low concentrations. Therefore, metabolites do not contribute to the pharmacological activity of tacrolimus.
EliminationTacrolimus is a low-clearance substance. In healthy subjects, the average total body clearance estimated from whole blood concentrations was 2.25 L/h. In adult liver, kidney, and heart transplant patients, values of 4.1 L/h, 6.7 L/h, and 3.9 L/h, respectively, have been observed. Factors such as low haematocrit and protein levels, which result in an increase in the unbound fraction of tacrolimus, or corticosteroid-induced increased metabolism, are considered to be responsible for the higher clearance rates observed following transplantation.The half-life of tacrolimus is long and variable. In healthy subjects, the mean half-life in whole blood is approximately 30 hours.Following intravenous and oral administration of 14C-labelled tacrolimus, most of the radioactivity was eliminated in the faeces. Approximately 2% of the radioactivity was eliminated in the urine. Less than 1% of unchanged tacrolimus was detected in the urine and faeces, indicating that tacrolimus is almost completely metabolised prior to elimination: bile being the principal route of elimination.
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Updated prescribing information
Following a review by the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), updated advice on the prescribing and dispensing of oral tacrolimus products has been agreed. This updated advice is that all oral tacrolimus medicines in the UK should be prescribed and dispensed by brand name only.
MHRA press release
Letter sent to healthcare professionals
Questions and answers document
Educational Risk Minimisation Materials to help reduce the risk associated with using this medicine.
Educational materials for the healthcare professional (doctor or pharmacist)
Envarsus Prolonged-release tacrolimus tablets Patient Card
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