New Warnings About the Use of Codeine and Tramadol in Children & Nursing Mothers
The following is FDA statement from Douglas Throckmorton, M.D., deputy center director for regulatory programs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, on New Warnings About The Use Of Codeine And Tramadol In Children & Nursing Mothers:
The health and safety of children is a top priority at the FDA, which is why today we are requiring a series of changes to the labeling of two types of opioid medications in order to help better protect children from serious risks associated with these medicines – codeine (found in some prescription pain and cough medicines and some over-the-counter cough medicines) and tramadol (found in some prescription pain medicines).
We are requiring these changes because we know that some children who received codeine or tramadol have experienced life-threatening respiratory depression and death because they metabolize (or break down) these medicines much faster than usual (called ultra-rapid metabolism), causing dangerously high levels of active drug in their bodies. This is especially concerning in children under 12 years of age and adolescents who are obese or have conditions that may increase the risk of breathing problems, like obstructive sleep apnea or lung disease. Respiratory depression can also occur in nursing babies, when mothers who are ultra-rapid metabolizers take these types of medicines and pass it along to their children through their breast milk.
This isn’t the first time we have taken action on codeine to better ensure the safety of our children. Since 2013, prescription codeine labeling has contained a Boxed Warning and Contraindication for children up to age 18 years of age regarding the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression following the use of codeine for pain management after the removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) and/or adenoids (adenoidectomy). Now, labels for both codeine and tramadol are being updated to include additional Contraindications and Warnings; among the updates are Contraindications for use of codeine or tramadol in all children younger than 12 years of age, warnings about their use in children 12-18 years of age with certain medical conditions, and a stronger warning recommending against their use in nursing mothers. In addition to these labeling changes, labeling for tramadol-containing products will also get a Contraindication for post-operative pain management in children up to age 18 years of age who have undergone tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy, which is already in labeling for codeine products.
We urge health care providers, stakeholders and the public to read the Drug Safety Communication that we issued today, which provides more detailed information regarding the new Warnings and Contraindications, and the data that informed them. We also encourage parents to review the ingredients of pain medicines to see whether they include codeine or tramadol, and cough medicines to see if they contain codeine. It’s also important to check non-prescription cough and cold medicines that may be sold over the counter, as some of these medicines also include codeine. In all cases, if the medicine contains codeine or tramadol, parents should consult a health care provider before giving their children the medicines or taking them when nursing.
We understand that there are limited options when it comes to treating pain or cough in children, and that these changes may raise some questions for health care providers and parents. However, please know that our decision today was made based on the latest evidence and with this goal in mind: keeping our kids safe.
Drug Approved to Treat Tardive Dyskinesia
Tardive dyskinesia is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive involuntary movements, usually of the jaw, lips and tongue, such as grimacing, sticking out the tongue and smacking the lips. Some affected people also experience involuntary movement of the extremities or difficulty breathing. Tardive dyskinesia is a serious side effect sometimes seen in patients who have been treated with antipsychotic medications, especially the older medications, for long periods to treat chronic conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Tardive dyskinesia can also occur in patients taking antipsychotic medications for depression and certain medications for gastrointestinal disorders and other conditions. It is unclear why some people who take these medications develop tardive dyskinesia yet others do not.
The FDA has approved Ingrezza (valbenazine) capsules to treat adults with tardive dyskinesia. This is the first drug approved by the FDA for this condition. The efficacy of Ingrezza was shown in a clinical trial of 234 participants that compared Ingrezza to placebo. After six weeks, participants who received Ingrezza had improvement in the severity of abnormal involuntary movements compared to those who received placebo. Ingrezza may cause serious side effects including sleepiness and heart rhythm problems (QT prolongation). Its use should be avoided in patients with congenital long QT syndrome or with abnormal heartbeats associated with a prolonged QT interval. Those taking Ingrezza should not drive or operate heavy machinery or do other dangerous activities until it is known how the drug affects them.
First Direct-to-Consumer Tests that Provide Genetic Risk Information
The FDA has allowed marketing of 23andMe Personal Genome Service Genetic Health Risk (GHR) tests for 10 diseases or conditions. These are the first direct-to-consumer (DTC) tests authorized by the FDA that provide information on an individual’s genetic predisposition to certain medical diseases or conditions, which may help to make decisions about lifestyle choices or to inform discussions with a health care professional.
While consumers can now have direct access to certain genetic risk information, according to the FDA, it is important that people understand that genetic risk is just one piece of the bigger puzzle, and it does not mean that one will or won’t ultimately develop a disease.
The GHR tests are intended to provide genetic risk information to consumers, but the tests cannot determine a person’s overall risk of developing a disease or condition. In addition to the presence of certain genetic variants, there are many factors that contribute to the development of a health condition, including environmental and lifestyle factors.
The 23andMe GHR tests work by isolating DNA from a saliva sample, which is then tested for more than 500,000 genetic variants. The presence or absence of some of these variants is associated with an increased risk for developing any one of the following 10 diseases or conditions:
- Parkinson’s disease, a nervous system disorder impacting movement;
- Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive brain disorder that destroys memory and thinking skills;
- Celiac disease, a disorder resulting in the inability to digest gluten;
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a disorder that raises the risk of lung and liver disease;
- Early-onset primary dystonia, a movement disorder involving involuntary muscle contractions/movements;
- Factor XI deficiency, a blood clotting disorder;
- Gaucher disease type 1, an organ and tissue disorder;
- Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase deficiency, also known as G6PD, a red blood cell condition;
- Hereditary hemochromatosis, an iron overload disorder; and
- Hereditary thrombophilia, a blood clot disorder.
The FDA reviewed data for the 23andMe GHR tests through the de novo premarket review pathway, a regulatory pathway for novel, low-to-moderate-risk devices that are not substantially equivalent to an already legally marketed device. Along with this authorization, the FDA is establishing criteria, called special controls, which clarify the agency’s expectations in assuring the tests’ accuracy, reliability and clinical relevance. These special controls, when met along with general controls, provide reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness for these and similar GHR tests.
In addition, the FDA intends to exempt additional 23andMe GHR tests from the FDA’s premarket review, and GHR tests from other makers may be exempt after submitting their first premarket notification. A proposed exemption of this kind would allow other, similar tests to enter the market as quickly as possible and in the least burdensome way, after a one-time FDA review.
Excluded from today’s marketing authorization and any future, related exemption are GHR tests that function as diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests are often used as the sole basis for major treatment decisions, such as a genetic test for BRCA, for which a positive result may lead to prophylactic (preventative) surgical removal of breasts or ovaries.
Authorization of the 23andMe GHR tests was supported by data from peer-reviewed, scientific literature that demonstrated a link between specific genetic variants and each of the 10 health conditions. The published data originated from studies that compared genetic variants present in people with a specific condition to those without that condition. The FDA also reviewed studies, which demonstrated that 23andMe GHR tests correctly and consistently identified variants associated with the 10 indicated conditions or diseases from a saliva sample.
The FDA requires the results of all DTC tests used for medical purposes be communicated in a way that consumers can understand and use. A user study showed that the 23andMe GHR tests’ instructions and reports were easy to follow and understand. The study indicated that people using the tests understood more than 90% of the information presented in the reports.
Risks associated with use of the 23andMe GHR tests include false positive findings, which can occur when a person receives a result indicating incorrectly that he or she has a certain genetic variant, and false negative findings that can occur when a user receives a result indicating incorrectly that he or she does not have a certain genetic variant. Results obtained from the tests should not be used for diagnosis or to inform treatment decisions. Users should consult a health care professional with questions or concerns about results.
The FDA granted market authorization of the Personal Genome Service GHR tests to 23andMe, Inc.
First Drug Approved for Primary Progressive MS
On March 28, the FDA approved Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) to treat adult patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). This is the first drug approved by the FDA for primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). The FDA granted this application breakthrough therapy designation, fast track designation, and priority review.
MS is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that disrupts communication between the brain and other parts of the body. It is among the most common causes of neurological disability in young adults and occurs more frequently in women than men. For most people with MS, episodes of worsening function (relapses) are initially followed by recovery periods (remissions). Over time, recovery may be incomplete, leading to progressive decline in function and increased disability. Most people experience their first symptoms of MS between the ages of 20 and 40. PPMS is characterized by steadily worsening function from the onset of symptoms, often without early relapses or remissions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 15% of patients with MS have PPMS.
The efficacy of Ocrevus for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS was shown in two clinical trials in 1,656 participants treated for 96 weeks. Both studies compared Ocrevus to another MS drug, Rebif (interferon beta-1a). In both studies, the patients receiving Ocrevus had reduced relapse rates and reduced worsening of disability compared to Rebif. In a study of PPMS in 732 participants treated for at least 120 weeks, those receiving Ocrevus showed a longer time to the worsening of disability compared to placebo.
Ocrevus is an intravenous infusion given by a health care professional. Ocrevus should not be used in patients with hepatitis B infection or a history of life-threatening infusion-related reactions to Ocrevus. Ocrevus must be dispensed with a patient Medication Guide that describes important information about the drug’s uses and risks. Ocrevus can cause infusion-related reactions, which can be serious. These reactions include, but are not limited to, itchy skin, rash, hives, skin redness, flushing, low blood pressure, fever, tiredness, dizziness, headache, throat irritation, shortness of breath, swelling of the throat, nausea, and fast heartbeat. Additionally, Ocrevus may increase the risk for malignancies, particularly breast cancer. Delay Ocrevus treatment for patients with active infections. Vaccination with live or live attenuated vaccines is not recommended in patients receiving Ocrevus.
In addition to the infusion-related reactions, the most common side effect of Ocrevus seen in the clinical trials for relapsing forms of MS was upper respiratory tract infection. The most common side effects in the study of PPMS were upper respiratory tract infection, skin infection, and lower respiratory tract infection.
The FDA granted approval of Ocrevus to Genentech, Inc.
Helping to Speed Cures and Treatments to Patients
The FDA is committed to helping deliver innovative, safe, and effective treatments and cures to the patients who need them as quickly as possible. To achieve this goal, FDA has implemented a variety of expedited review programs and are working to help shorten the development time before a product is even submitted for FDA review.
As a result of these efforts, in 2014 alone, FDA approved 51 new molecular entities and biological products (41 by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and 10 by the Center for Biological Evaluation and Research). These approvals included major therapeutic advances in the treatment of cancer, hepatitis C and type-2 diabetes. They also included vaccines for meningococcus type B, and more new orphan drugs for rare diseases than any previous year.
FDA has also made strides with medical devices. As a result of activities coordinated by CDRH Innovation, and programmatic improvements and innovative use of our existing approval and clearance pathways, many devices investigated in the United States now reach the market a full year sooner than they did at the beginning of this decade. Products recently approved or cleared by FDA include the BrainPort V100, a first-of-its-kind wearable device that can help orient profoundly blind individuals to their physical surroundings; Watchman LAA Closure Technology, a permanently implanted device that prevents certain clots from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke; and the Maestro Rechargeable System to treat obesity in certain adult patients (it targets the nerve pathway between the brain and the stomach that controls feelings of hunger and fullness).
Mutual Recognition Promises New Framework for Pharmaceutical Inspections for United States and European Union
The United States and the European Union (EU) completed an exchange of letters to amend the Pharmaceutical Annex to the 1998 U.S.-EU Mutual Recognition Agreement. Under this agreement, U.S. and EU regulators will be able to utilize each other’s good manufacturing practice inspections of pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities. The amended agreement ?represents the culmination of nearly three years of U.S. FDA and EU cooperation as part of the Mutual Reliance Initiative and will allow the FDA and EU drug inspectors to rely upon information from drug inspections conducted within each other’s borders. Ultimately, this will enable the FDA and EU to avoid the duplication of drug inspections, lower inspection costs and enable regulators to devote more resources to other parts of the world where there may be greater risk.
In 2012, Congress passed the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, which gave the FDA authority to enter into agreements to recognize drug inspections conducted by foreign regulatory authorities if the FDA determined those authorities are capable of conducting inspections that met U.S. requirements. Since May 2014, the FDA and the EU have been collaborating to evaluate the way they each inspect drug manufacturers and assessing the risk and benefits of mutual recognition of drug inspections. The FDA was invited to observe the EU’s Joint Audit Programme, in which two EU nations audit the inspectorate – the regulatory authority – of another EU country. The FDA first observed the audit of Sweden’s inspectorate by auditors from the United Kingdom and Norway. Since then, the FDA has observed 13 additional audits of drug inspectorates across the EU with more audit observations planned through 2017.
Approval of First Treatment for Nocturnal Frequent Urination to Overproduction of Urine
Nocturia (wakening at night to urinate) is a symptom that can be caused by a wide variety of conditions, such as congestive heart failure, poorly controlled diabetes mellitus, medications, or diseases of the bladder or prostate.
The FDA has approved Noctiva (desmopressin acetate) nasal spray for adults who awaken at least two times per night to urinate due to a condition known as nocturnal polyuria (overproduction of urine during the night). Noctiva is the first FDA-approved treatment for this condition. Noctiva is taken daily, approximately 30 minutes before going to bed. It works by increasing the absorption of water through the kidneys, which leads to less urine production.
Noctiva’s efficacy was established in two 12-week, randomized, placebo-controlled trials in 1,045 patients 50 years of age and older with nocturia due to nocturnal polyuria. Although these trials showed a small reduction in the average number of night-time urinations with Noctiva compared to placebo, more patients treated with Noctiva were able to at least halve their number of night-time urinations, and patients treated with Noctiva had more nights with one or fewer night-time urinations.
Noctiva is being approved with a boxed warning and a Medication Guide because it can cause low sodium levels in the blood (hyponatremia). Severe hyponatremia can be life-threatening if it is not promptly diagnosed and treated, leading to seizures, coma, respiratory arrest or death. Health care providers should make sure the patient’s sodium level is normal before starting Noctiva, and should check sodium levels within one week and approximately one month after starting treatment and periodically thereafter. The lower Noctiva dose is recommended as the starting dose for those who may be at risk for hyponatremia, such as the elderly. Noctiva should not be used in patients at increased risk of severe hyponatremia, such as those with excessive fluid intake, those who have illnesses that can cause fluid or electrolyte imbalances, certain patients with kidney damage, and in those using certain medicines, known as loop diuretics or glucocorticoids.
Noctiva should also not be used in patients with symptomatic congestive heart failure or uncontrolled hypertension because fluid retention can worsen these underlying conditions. Use of Noctiva should be discontinued temporarily in patients with certain nasal conditions such as colds or allergies until those conditions have resolved.
Noctiva is also not recommended for the treatment of nocturia in pregnant women. Nocturia is usually related to normal changes in pregnancy that do not require treatment with Noctiva. Noctiva should not be used in children.
The most common side effects of Noctiva in clinical trials included nasal discomfort, cold symptoms (nasopharyngitis), nasal congestion, sneezing, high or increased blood pressure, back pain, nose bleeds, bronchitis and dizziness.
Before considering Noctiva, health care providers should evaluate each patient for possible causes for the nocturia, and optimize the treatment of underlying conditions that may be contributing to the night-time urination. Because Noctiva is approved only for adults with nocturia caused by nocturnal polyuria, health care providers should confirm overproduction of urine at night with a 24-hour urine collection, if one has not been obtained previously. Health care providers should also be mindful of underlying conditions that can cause nocturia, but that make treatment with Noctiva unsafe, such as excessive drinking of fluids or symptomatic congestive heart failure.
Although there are other FDA-approved medications that also contain desmopressin, none of those medications are approved to treat nocturia.
FDA Clears Test To Identify Organisms that Cause Bloodstream Infections and Provide Antibiotic Sensitivity Results
Bacterial or yeast blood infections can occur in patients of all ages, but are particularly severe in infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. If not treated rapidly, such bloodstream infections can lead to severe complications, such as septic shock and death.
The FDA has marketing clearance of the PhenoTest BC Kit, performed on the Pheno System. This is the first test to identify organisms that cause bloodstream infections and provide information about which antibiotics the organism is likely to respond to (antibiotic sensitivity). The test also reduces the amount of time it takes to provide this important information, which can guide antibiotic treatment recommendations more quickly. Unlike traditional identification and antibiotic susceptibility tests that may take 24 to 48 hours after detection in a positive blood culture to provide test results, the PhenoTest BC Kit can identify bacteria or yeast from a positive blood culture in approximately 1.5 hours. For certain organisms, the test also provides important information to guide treatment recommendations in approximately 6.5 hours after the organisms are detected from blood cultures.
The test can identify 14 different species of bacteria and two species of yeast that cause bloodstream infections, while also providing antibiotic sensitivity information on 18 selected antibiotics for a subset of the identified organisms as appropriate. The test can also identify the presence of two indicators of antibiotic resistance, which can occur when potentially harmful bacteria change in a way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of antibiotics.
The PhenoTest BC Kit works by measuring the similarity of the infection-causing organism’s genetic material to DNA known to be unique to specific bacteria or yeast. Once the organism is identified, it is mixed with antibiotics and the growth of the bacteria is measured by time-lapse images. If the organism does not grow when the antibiotic is present, this means that an antibiotic can possibly be used for treatment. The FDA reviewed the data for the PhenoTest BC Kit through the de novo premarket review pathway, a regulatory pathway for devices of a new type with low-to-moderate-risk that are not substantially equivalent to an already legally marketed device and for which special controls can be developed, in addition to general controls, to provide a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness of the devices. The FDA’s decision to allow marketing was based largely on its review of the sponsor’s primary clinical study of 1,850 positive blood cultures. In this study, the PhenoTest BC Kit provided correct identification of the bacteria or yeast in the positive blood culture more than 95% of the time. Results for testing whether the bacteria were sensitive to antibiotics were also accurate when compared to traditional tests.
Risks associated with use of the PhenoTest BC Kit include false positive findings, which can occur when an individual not infected with organisms that cause bloodstream infections receives a test result that incorrectly indicates that he or she is infected. Results obtained from the test should always be interpreted alongside additional laboratory test results. The PhenoTest BC Kit and the Pheno System are manufactured by Accelerate Diagnostics Inc. in Tucson, Arizona.
FDA Approves Siliq to Treat Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes patches of skin redness and flaking. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that occurs more commonly in patients with a family history of the disease, and most often begins in people between the ages of 15 and 35. The most common form of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, in which patients develop thick, red skin with flaky, silver-white scales.
The FDA has approved Siliq (brodalumab) to treat adults with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. Siliq’s active ingredient (brodalumab) binds to a protein that causes inflammation, inhibiting the inflammatory response that plays a role in the development of plaque psoriasis. The drug is intended for patients who are candidates for systemic therapy (treatment using substances that travel through the bloodstream, after being taken by mouth or injected) or phototherapy (ultraviolet light treatment), and have failed to respond, or have stopped responding to other systemic therapies.
Siliq’s safety and efficacy were established in three randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials with a total of 4,373 adult participants with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis who were candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy. More patients treated with Siliq compared to placebo had skin that was clear or almost clear, as assessed by scoring of the extent, nature and severity of psoriatic changes of the skin.
Suicidal ideation and behavior, including completed suicides, have occurred in patients treated with Siliq during clinical trials. Siliq users with a history of suicidality or depression had an increased incidence of suicidal ideation and behavior compared to users without this history. A causal association between treatment with Siliq and increased risk of suicidal ideation and behavior has not been established. Because of the observed risk of suicidal ideation and behavior, the labeling for Siliq includes a Boxed Warning and the drug is only available through a restricted program under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) called the Siliq REMS Program. Notable requirements of the Siliq REMS Program include the following:
Prescribers must be certified with the program and counsel patients about this risk. Patients with new or worsening symptoms of depression or suicidality should be referred to a mental health professional, as appropriate.
Patients must sign a Patient-Prescriber Agreement Form and be made aware of the need to seek medical attention should they experience new or worsening suicidal thoughts or behavior, feelings of depression, anxiety or other mood changes.
Pharmacies must be certified with the program and must only dispense to patients who are authorized to receive Siliq.
Siliq is also approved with a Medication Guide to inform patients of the risk of suicidal ideation and behavior, and that because Siliq is a medication that affects the immune system, patients may have a greater risk of getting an infection, or an allergic or autoimmune condition. Patients with Crohn’s disease should not use Siliq. Health care providers should also evaluate patients for tuberculosis (TB) infection prior to initiating treatment with Siliq. Health care providers should not administer Siliq to patients with active TB infection, and should avoid immunizations with live vaccines in patients being treated with Siliq.
The most common adverse reactions reported with the use of Siliq include joint pain (arthralgia), headache, fatigue, diarrhea, throat pain (oropharyngeal pain), nausea, muscle pain (myalgia), injection site reactions, influenza, low white blood cell count (neutropenia) and fungal (tinea) infections. Siliq is marketed by Bridgewater, New Jersey-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
FDA Approves Drug to Treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common type of muscular dystrophy. DMD is caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact. The first symptoms are usually seen between 3 and 5 years of age and worsen over time. The disease often occurs in people without a known family history of the condition and primarily affects boys, but in rare cases it can affect girls. DMD occurs in about one of every 3,600 male infants worldwide. People with DMD progressively lose the ability to perform activities independently and often require use of a wheelchair by their early teens. As the disease progresses, life-threatening heart and respiratory conditions can occur. Patients typically succumb to the disease in their 20s or 30s; however, disease severity and life expectancy vary.
The FDA approved Emflaza (deflazacort) tablets and oral suspension to treat patients age 5 years and older with DMD. Emflaza is a corticosteroid that works by decreasing inflammation and reducing the activity of the immune system and this class of drugs are commonly used to treat DMD across the world. This is the first FDA approval of any corticosteroid to treat DMD and the first approval of deflazacort for any use in the United States. The effectiveness of deflazacort was shown in a clinical study of 196 male patients who were 5 to 15 years old at the beginning of the trial with documented mutation of the dystrophin gene and onset of weakness before age 5. At week 12, patients taking deflazacort had improvements in a clinical assessment of muscle strength across a number of muscles compared to those taking a placebo. An overall stability in average muscle strength was maintained through the end of study at week 52 in the deflazacort-treated patients. In another trial with 29 male patients that lasted 104 weeks, deflazacort demonstrated a numerical advantage over placebo on an assessment of average muscle strength. In addition, although not statistically controlled for multiple comparisons, patients on deflazacort appeared to lose the ability to walk later than those treated with placebo.
The side effects caused by Emflaza are similar to those experienced with other corticosteroids. The most common side effects include facial puffiness (Cushingoid appearance), weight gain, increased appetite, upper respiratory tract infection, cough, extraordinary daytime urinary frequency (pollakiuria), unwanted hair growth (hirsutism) and excessive fat around the stomach (central obesity). Other side effects that are less common include problems with endocrine function, increased susceptibility to infection, elevation in blood pressure, risk of gastrointestinal perforation, serious skin rashes, behavioral and mood changes, decrease in the density of the bones and vision problems such as cataracts. Patients receiving immunosuppressive doses of corticosteroids should not be given live or live attenuated vaccines.
The FDA granted this application fast track designation and priority review. The drug also received orphan drug designation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases. The sponsor is receiving a rare pediatric disease priority review voucher under a program intended to encourage development of new drugs and biologics for the prevention and treatment of rare pediatric diseases. A voucher can be redeemed by a sponsor at a later date to receive priority review of a subsequent marketing application for a different product. This is the ninth rare pediatric disease priority review voucher issued by the FDA since the program began. Emflaza is marketed by Marathon Pharmaceuticals of Northbrook, Illinois.