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Proleukin (Aldesleukin) - Warnings and Precautions



Therapy with PROLEUKIN ® (aldesleukin) for injection should be restricted to patients with normal cardiac and pulmonary functions as defined by thallium stress testing and form al pulmonary function testing. Extreme caution should be used in patients with a normal thallium stress test and a normal pulmonary function test who have a history of cardiac or pulmonary disease.

PROLEUKIN should be administered in a hospital setting under the supervision of a qualified physician experienced in the use of anticancer agents. An intensive care facility and specialists skilled in cardiopulmonary or intensive c are medicine must be available.

PROLEUKIN administration has been associated with capillary leak syndrome (CLS) which is characterized by a loss of vascular tone and extravasation of plasma proteins and fluid into the extravascular space. CLS results in hypotension and reduced organ perfusion which may be s evere and can result in death. CLS may be associated with cardiac arrhythmias (supraventricular and ventricular), angina, myocardial infarction, respiratory insufficiency requiring intubation, gastrointestinal bleeding or infarction, renal insufficiency, edema, and mental status changes.

PROLEUKIN treatment is associated with impaired neutrophil function (reduced chemotaxis) and with an increased risk of disseminated infection, including seps is and bacterial endocarditis. Consequently, preexisting bacterial infections should be adequately treated prior to in itiation of PROLEUKIN therapy. Patients with indwelling central lines are particularly at risk for infection with gram positive microorganisms. Antibiotic prophylaxis with oxacillin, nafcillin, ciprofloxacin, or vancomycin has been associated with a reduced incidence of staphylococcal infections.

PROLEUKIN administration should be withheld in patients developing moderate to severe lethargy or somnolence; continued administration may result in coma.



See boxed “WARNINGS

Because of the severe adverse events which generally accompany PROLEUKIN® (aldesleukin) therapy at the recommended dosages, thorough clinical evaluation should be performed to identify patients with significant cardiac, pulmonary, renal, hepatic, or CNS impairment in whom PROLEUKIN is contraindicated. Patients with normal cardiovascular, pulmonary, hepatic, and CNS function may experience serious, life threatening or fatal adverse events. Adverse events are frequent, often serious, and sometimes fatal.

Should adverse events, which require dose modification occur, dosage should be withheld rather than reduced (see “DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION” section, “Dose Modifications” subsection).

PROLEUKIN has been associated with exacerbation of pre-existing or initial presentation of autoimmune disease and inflammatory disorders. Exacerbation of Crohn’s disease, scleroderma, thyroiditis, inflammatory arthritis, diabetes mellitus, oculo-bulbar myasthenia gravis, crescentic IgA glomerulonephritis, cholecystitis, cerebral vasculitis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome and bullous pemphigoid, has been reported following treatment with IL-2.

All patients should have thorough evaluation and treatment of CNS metastases and have a negative scan prior to receiving PROLEUKIN therapy. New neurologic signs, symptoms, and anatomic lesions following PROLEUKIN therapy have been reported in patients without evidence of CNS metastases. Clinical manifestations included changes in mental status, speech difficulties, cortical blindness, limb or gait ataxia, hallucinations, agitation, obtundation, and coma. Radiological findings included multiple and, less commonly, single cortical lesions on MRI and evidence of demyelination. Neurologic signs and symptoms associated with PROLEUKIN therapy usually improve after discontinuation of PROLEUKIN therapy; however, there are reports of permanent neurologic defects. One case of possible cerebral vasculitis, responsive to dexamethasone, has been reported. In patients with known seizure disorders, extreme caution should be exercised as PROLEUKIN may cause seizures.



Patients should have normal cardiac, pulmonary, hepatic, and CNS function at the start of therapy (see “PRECAUTIONS” section, “Laboratory Tests” subsection). Capillary leak syndrome (CLS) begins immediately after PROLEUKIN® (aldesleukin) treatment starts and is marked by increased capillary permeability to protein and fluids and reduced vascular tone. In most patients, this results in a concomitant drop in mean arterial blood pressure within 2 to 12 hours after the start of treatment. With continued therapy, clinically significant hypotension (defined as systolic blood pressure below 90 mm Hg or a 20 mm Hg drop from baseline systolic pressure) and hypoperfusion will occur. In addition, extravasation of protein and fluids into the extravascular space will lead to the formation of edema and creation of new effusions.

Medical management of CLS begins with careful monitoring of the patient’s fluid and organ perfusion status. This is achieved by frequent determination of blood pressure and pulse, and by monitoring organ function, which includes assessment of mental status and urine output. Hypovolemia is assessed by catheterization and central pressure monitoring.

Flexibility in fluid and pressor management is essential for maintaining organ perfusion and blood pressure. Consequently, extreme caution should be used in treating patients with fixed requirements for large volumes of fluid (e.g., patients with hypercalcemia). Administration of IV fluids, either colloids or crystalloids is recommended for treatment of hypovolemia. Correction of hypovolemia may require large volumes of IV fluids but caution is required because unrestrained fluid administration may exacerbate problems associated with edema formation or effusions. With extravascular fluid accumulation, edema is common and ascites, pleural or pericardial effusions may develop. Management of these events depends on a careful balancing of the effects of fluid shifts so that neither the consequences of hypovolemia (e.g., impaired organ perfusion) nor the consequences of fluid accumulations (e.g., pulmonary edema) exceed the patient’s tolerance.

Clinical experience has shown that early administration of dopamine (1 to 5 µg/kg/min) to patients manifesting capillary leak syndrome, before the onset of hypotension, can help to maintain organ perfusion particularly to the kidney and thus preserve urine output. Weight and urine output should be carefully monitored. If organ perfusion and blood pressure are not sustained by dopamine therapy, clinical investigators have increased the dose of dopamine to 6 to 10 µg/kg/min or have added phenylephrine hydrochloride (1 to 5 µg/kg/min) to low dose dopamine (see “ADVERSE REACTIONS” section). Prolonged use of pressors, either in combination or as individual agents, at relatively high doses, may be associated with cardiac rhythm disturbances. If there has been excessive weight gain or edema formation, particularly if associated with shortness of breath from pulmonary congestion, use of diuretics, once blood pressure has normalized, has been shown to hasten recovery. NOTE: Prior to the use of any product mentioned, the physician should refer to the package ins ert for the respective product.

PROLEUKIN® (aldesleukin) treatment should be withheld for failure to maintain organ perfusion as demonstrated by altered mental status, reduced urine output, a fall in the systolic blood pressure below 90 mm Hg or onset of cardiac arrhythmias (see “DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION” section, “Dose Modifications” subsection). Recovery from CLS begins soon after cessation of PROLEUKIN therapy. Usually, within a few hours, the blood pressure rises, organ perfusion is restored and reabsorption of extravasated fluid and protein begins.

Kidney and liver function are impaired during PROLEUKIN treatment. Use of concomitant nephrotoxic or hepatotoxic medications may further increase toxicity to the kidney or liver.

Mental status changes including irritability, confusion, or depression which occur while receiving PROLEUKIN may be indicators of bacteremia or early bacterial sepsis, hypoperfusion, occult CNS malignancy, or direct PROLEUKIN-induced CNS toxicity. Alterations in mental status due solely to PROLEUKIN therapy may progress for several days before recovery begins. Rarely, patients have sustained permanent neurologic deficits (see “PRECAUTIONS” section, “Drug Interactions” subsection).

Exacerbation of pre-existing autoimmune disease or initial presentation of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders has been reported following PROLEUKIN alone or in combination with interferon (see “PRECAUTIONS” section, “Drug Interactions” subsection and “ADVERSE REACTIONS” section). Hypothyroidism, sometimes preceded by hyperthyroidism, has been reported following PROLEUKIN treatment. Some of these patients required thyroid replacement therapy. Changes in thyroid function may be a manifestation of autoimmunity. Onset of symptomatic hyperglycemia and/or diabetes mellitus has been reported during PROLEUKIN therapy.

PROLEUKIN enhancement of cellular immune function may increase the risk of allograft rejection in transplant patients.

Laboratory Tests

The following clinical evaluations are recommended for all patients, prior to beginning treatment and then daily during drug administration.

•       Standard hematologic tests-including CBC, differential and platelet counts

•       Blood chemistries-including electrolytes, renal and hepatic function tests

•       Chest x-rays

Serum creatinine should be ≤1.5 mg/dL prior to initiation of PROLEUKIN treatment.

All patients should have baseline pulmonary function tests with arterial blood gases. Adequate pulmonary function should be documented (FEV1 >2 liters or ≥75% of predicted for height and age) prior to initiating therapy.

All patients should be screened with a stress thallium study. Normal ejection fraction and unimpaired wall motion should be documented. If a thallium stress test suggests minor wall motion abnormalities further testing is suggested to exclude significant coronary artery disease.

Daily monitoring during therapy with PROLEUKIN should include vital signs (temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and respiration rate), weight, and fluid intake and output. In a patient with a decreased systolic blood pressure, especially less than 90 mm Hg, constant cardiac rhythm monitoring should be conducted. If an abnormal complex or rhythm is seen, an ECG should be performed. Vital signs in these hypotensive patients should be taken hourly.

During treatment, pulmonary function should be monitored on a regular basis by clinical examination, assessment of vital signs and pulse oximetry. Patients with dyspnea or clinical signs of respiratory impairment (tachypnea or rales) should be further assessed with arterial blood gas determination. These tests are to be repeated as often as clinically indicated.

Cardiac function should be assessed daily by clinical examination and assessment of vital signs. Patients with signs or symptoms of chest pain, murmurs, gallops, irregular rhythm or palpitations should be further assessed with an ECG examination and cardiac enzyme evaluation. Evidence of myocardial injury, including findings compatible with myocardial infarction or myocarditis, has been reported. Ventricular hypokinesia due to myocarditis may be persistent for several months. If there is evidence of cardiac ischemia or congestive heart failure, PROLEUKIN therapy should be held, and a repeat thallium study should be done.

Drug Interactions

PROLEUKIN may affect central nervous function. Therefore, interactions could occur following concomitant administration of psychotropic drugs (e.g., narcotics, analgesics, antiemetics, sedatives, tranquilizers).

Concurrent administration of drugs possessing nephrotoxic (e.g., aminoglycosides, indomethacin), myelotoxic (e.g., cytotoxic chemotherapy), cardiotoxic (e.g., doxorubicin) or hepatotoxic (e.g., methotrexate, asparaginase) effects with PROLEUKIN may increase toxicity in these organ systems. The safety and efficacy of PROLEUKIN in combination with any antineoplastic agents have not been established.

In addition, reduced kidney and liver function secondary to PROLEUKIN treatment may delay elimination of concomitant medications and increase the risk of adverse events from those drugs.

Hypersensitivity reactions have been reported in patients receiving combination regimens containing sequential high dose PROLEUKIN and antineoplastic agents, specifically, dacarbazine, cis-platinum, tamoxifen and interferon-alfa. These reactions consisted of erythema, pruritus, and hypotension and occurred within hours of administration of chemotherapy. These events required medical intervention in some patients.

Myocardial injury, including myocardial infarction, myocarditis, ventricular hypokinesia, and severe rhabdomyolysis appear to be increased in patients receiving PROLEUKIN and interferon-alfa concurrently.

Exacerbation or the initial presentation of a number of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders has been observed following concurrent use of interferon-alfa and PROLEUKIN, including crescentic IgA glomerulonephritis, oculo-bulbar myasthenia gravis, inflammatory arthritis, thyroiditis, bullous pemphigoid, and Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

Although glucocorticoids have been shown to reduce PROLEUKIN-induced side effects including fever, renal insufficiency, hyperbilirubinemia, confusion, and dyspnea, concomitant administration of these agents with PROLEUKIN may reduce the antitumor effectiveness of PROLEUKIN and thus should be avoided.12

Beta-blockers and other antihypertensives may potentiate the hypotension seen with PROLEUKIN.

Delayed Adverse Reactions to Iodinated Contrast Media

A review of the literature revealed that 12.6% (range 11-28%) of 501 patients treated with various interleukin-2 containing regimens who were subsequently administered radiographic iodinated contrast media experienced acute, atypical adverse reactions. The onset of symptoms usually occurred within hours (most commonly 1 to 4 hours) following the administration of contrast media. These reactions include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, pruritus, rash, diarrhea, hypotension, edema, and oliguria. Some clinicians have noted that these reactions resemble the immediate side effects caused by interleukin-2 administration, however the cause of contrast reactions after interleukin-2 therapy is unknown. Most events were reported to occur when contrast media was given within 4 weeks after the last dose of interleukin-2. These events were also reported to occur when contrast media was given several months after interleukin-2 treatment.13

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

There have been no studies conducted assessing the carcinogenic or mutagenic potential of PROLEUKIN.

There have been no studies conducted assessing the effect of PROLEUKIN on fertility. It is recommended that this drug not be administered to fertile persons of either gender not practicing effective contraception.


Pregnancy Category C.

PROLEUKIN has been shown to have embryolethal effects in rats when given in doses at 27 to 36 times the human dose (scaled by body weight). Significant maternal toxicities were observed in pregnant rats administered PROLEUKIN by IV injection at doses 2.1 to 36 times higher than the human dose during critical period of organogenesis. No evidence of teratogenicity was observed other than that attributed to maternal toxicity. There are no adequate well-controlled studies of PROLEUKIN in pregnant women. PROLEUKIN should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from PROLEUKIN, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness in children under 18 years of age have not been established.

Geriatric Use

There were a small number of patients aged 65 and over in clinical trials of PROLEUKIN; experience is limited to 27 patients, eight with metastatic melanoma and nineteen with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. The response rates were similar in patients 65 years and over as compared to those less than 65 years of age. The median number of courses and the median number of doses per course were similar between older and younger patients.

PROLEUKIN is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of toxic reactions to this drug may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. The pattern of organ system toxicity and the proportion of patients with severe toxicities by organ system were generally similar in patients 65 and older and younger patients. There was a trend, however, towards an increased incidence of severe urogenital toxicities and dyspnea in the older patients.

Page last updated: 2009-12-26

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