DrugLib.com — Drug Information Portal

Rx drug information, pharmaceutical research, clinical trials, news, and more

Serostim (Somatropin) - Warnings and Precautions



Concomitant Antiretroviral Therapy

In some experimental systems, somatropin has been shown to potentiate HIV replication in vitro at concentrations ranging from 50-250 ng/mL. There was no increase in virus production when the antiretroviral agents, zidovudine, didanosine or lamivudine were added to the culture medium. Additional in vitro studies have shown that somatropin does not interfere with the antiviral activity of zalcitabine or stavudine. In the controlled clinical trials, no significant somatropin-associated increase in viral burden was observed. However, the protocol required all participants to be on concomitant antiretroviral therapy for the duration of the study. In view of the potential for acceleration of virus replication, it is recommended that HIV patients be maintained on antiretroviral therapy for the duration of Serostim® treatment.

Impaired Glucose Tolerance/Diabetes

Hyperglycemia may occur in HIV infected individuals due to a variety of reasons. In wasting patients, treatment with Serostim® 0.1 mg/kg daily and 0.1 mg/kg every other day for 12 weeks was associated with approximately 10 mg/dL and 6 mg/dL increases in mean fasting blood glucose concentrations, respectively. The increases occurred early in treatment. Patients with other risk factors for glucose intolerance should be monitored closely during Serostim® therapy.

During safety surveillance of patients with HIV-associated wasting, cases of new onset impaired glucose tolerance, new onset type 2 diabetes mellitus and exacerbation of preexisting diabetes mellitus have been reported in patients receiving Serostim®. Some patients developed diabetic ketoacidosis and diabetic coma. In some patients, these conditions improved when Serostim® was discontinued, while in others, the glucose intolerance persisted. Some of these patients required initiation or adjustment of antidiabetic treatment while on Serostim®.

In clinical trials of Serostim® conducted in HIV patients with lipodystrophy (an unapproved indication), evidence of dose-dependent glucose intolerance and related adverse reaction was observed at doses of 4 mg Serostim® daily and 4 mg Serostim® every other day for 12 weeks [see Adverse Reactions].

Intracranial Hypertension

Intracranial hypertension (IH) with papilledema, visual changes, headache, nausea, and/or vomiting has been reported in a small number of patients treated with somatropin products. Symptoms usually occurred within the first eight weeks after the initiation of somatropin therapy. In all reported cases, IH-associated signs and symptoms rapidly resolved after cessation of therapy or a reduction of the somatropin dose. Funduscopic examination should be performed routinely before initiating treatment with somatropin to exclude preexisting papilledema, and periodically during the course of somatropin therapy. If papilledema is observed by funduscopy during somatropin treatment, treatment should be stopped. If somatropin-induced IH is diagnosed, treatment with somatropin can be restarted at a lower dose after IH-associated signs and symptoms have resolved.

Fluid Retention/Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Increased tissue turgor (swelling, particularly in the hands and feet) and musculoskeletal discomfort (pain, swelling and/or stiffness) may occur during treatment with Serostim®, but may resolve spontaneously, with analgesic therapy, or after reducing the frequency of dosing [see Dosage and Administration].

Carpal tunnel syndrome may occur during treatment with Serostim®. If the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome do not resolve by decreasing the weekly number of doses of Serostim®, it is recommended that treatment be discontinued.

Local and Systemic Reactions

When somatropin is administered subcutaneously at the same site over a long period of time, tissue atrophy may result. This can be avoided by rotating the injection site [see Dosage and Administration]. As with any protein, local or systemic allergic reactions may occur. Patients should be informed that allergic reactions are possible and that prompt medical attention should be sought if allergic reactions occur.


Because malignancies are more common in HIV positive individuals, the risks and benefits of starting somatropin in HIV positive patients should be carefully considered before initiating Serostim® treatment and patients should be monitored carefully for the development of neoplasms if treatment with somatropin is initiated.

Monitor all patients with a history of any neoplasm routinely while on somatropin therapy for progression or recurrence of the tumor [see Contraindications].

Monitor patients on somatropin therapy carefully for increased growth, or potential malignant changes of preexisting nevi.


Cases of pancreatitis have been reported rarely in children and adults receiving somatropin treatment, with some evidence supporting a greater risk in children compared with adults. Published literature indicates that girls who have Turner syndrome may be at greater risk than other somatropin-treated children. Pancreatitis should be considered in any somatropin-treated patient, especially a child who develops abdominal pain.



Pregnancy Category B. Reproduction studies have been performed in rats and rabbits. Doses up to 5 to 10 times the human dose, based on body surface area, have revealed no evidence of impaired fertility or harm to the fetus due to Serostim®. There are, however, no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, Serostim® should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.

Nursing Women

It is not known whether Serostim® is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when Serostim® is administered to a nursing woman.

Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients with HIV have not been established. Available evidence suggests that somatropin clearance is similar in adults and children, but no pharmacokinetic studies have been conducted in children with HIV.

In two small studies, 11 children with HIV-associated failure to thrive were treated subcutaneously with human growth hormone. In one study, five children (age range, 6 to 17 years) were treated with 0.04 mg/kg/day for 26 weeks. In a second study, six children (age range, 8 to 14 years) were treated with 0.07 mg/kg/day for 4 weeks. Treatment appeared to be well tolerated in both studies. The preliminary data collected on a limited number of patients with HIV-associated failure to thrive appear to be consistent with safety observations in growth hormone-treated adults with HIV wasting.

Benzyl alcohol, a component of this product, has been associated with serious adverse events and death, particularly in pediatric patients. The "gasping syndrome," (characterized by central nervous system depression, metabolic acidosis, gasping respirations, and high levels of benzyl alcohol and its metabolites found in the blood and urine) has been associated with benzyl alcohol dosages >99 mg/kg/day in neonates and low-birth weight neonates. Additional symptoms may include gradual neurological deterioration, seizures, intracranial hemorrhage, hematologic abnormalities, skin breakdown, hepatic and renal failure, hypotension, bradycardia, and cardiovascular collapse. Practitioners administering this and other medications containing benzyl alcohol should consider the combined daily metabolic load of benzyl alcohol from all sources.

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies with Serostim® did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Elderly patients may be more sensitive to the action of somatropin, and therefore, may be more prone to develop adverse reactions. A lower starting dose and smaller dose increments should be considered for older patients [see Dosage and Administration (2) ].

Hepatic Impairment

No studies have been conducted for Serostim® in patients with hepatic impairment [see Clinical Pharmacology].

Renal Impairment

Subjects with chronic renal failure tend to have decreased somatropin clearance compared to those with normal renal function. However, no studies have been conducted for Serostim® in patients with renal impairment [see Clinical Pharmacology].

Gender Effect

Biomedical literature indicates that a gender-related difference in the mean clearance of r-hGH could exist (clearance of r-hGH in males > clearance of r-hGH in females). However, no gender-based analysis is available for Serostim® in normal volunteers or patients infected with HIV.

Page last updated: 2014-06-27

-- advertisement -- The American Red Cross
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Site usage policy | Privacy policy

All Rights reserved - Copyright DrugLib.com, 2006-2017