Patients taking TNF-antagonists are more susceptible to serious infections. Impaired lung function may increase the risk for developing infections. Patients must therefore be monitored closely for infections, including tuberculosis, before, during and after treatment with AMGEVITA®. Because the elimination of adalimumab may take up to four months, monitoring should be continued throughout this period.
Treatment with AMGEVITA® should not be initiated in patients with active infections including chronic or localised infections until infections are controlled. In patients who have been exposed to tuberculosis and patients who have travelled in areas of high risk of tuberculosis or endemic mycoses, such as histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, or blastomycosis, the risk and benefits of treatment with AMGEVITA® should be considered prior to initiating therapy (see Other opportunistic infections).
Patients who develop a new infection while undergoing treatment with AMGEVITA®, should be monitored closely and undergo a complete diagnostic evaluation. Administration of AMGEVITA® should be discontinued if a patient develops a new serious infection or sepsis, and appropriate antimicrobial or antifungal therapy should be initiated until the infection is controlled. Physicians should exercise caution when considering the use of AMGEVITA® in patients with a history of recurring infection or with underlying conditions which may predispose patients to infections, including the use of concomitant immunosuppressive medications.
Serious infections, including sepsis, due to bacterial, mycobacterial, invasive fungal, parasitic, viral, or other opportunistic infections such as listeriosis, legionellosis and pneumocystis have been reported in patients receiving adalimumab.
Other serious infections seen in clinical trials include pneumonia, pyelonephritis, septic arthritis and septicaemia. Hospitalisation or fatal outcomes associated with infections have been reported.
Tuberculosis, including reactivation and new onset of tuberculosis, has been reported in patients receiving adalimumab. Reports included cases of pulmonary and extra-pulmonary (i.e. disseminated) tuberculosis.
Before initiation of therapy with AMGEVITA®, all patients must be evaluated for both active or inactive (“latent”) tuberculosis infection. This evaluation should include a detailed medical assessment of patient history of tuberculosis or possible previous exposure to people with active tuberculosis and previous and/or current immunosuppressive therapy. Appropriate screening tests (i.e. tuberculin skin test and chest x-ray) should be performed in all patients (local recommendations may apply). It is recommended that the conduct and results of these tests are recorded in the patient reminder card. Prescribers are reminded of the risk of false negative tuberculin skin test results, especially in patients who are severely ill or immunocompromised.
If active tuberculosis is diagnosed, AMGEVITA® therapy must not be initiated (see section 4.3 of the Summary of Product Characteristics).
In all situations described below, the benefit/risk balance of therapy should be very carefully considered.
If latent tuberculosis is suspected, a physician with expertise in the treatment of tuberculosis should be consulted.
If latent tuberculosis is diagnosed, appropriate treatment must be started with anti-tuberculosis prophylaxis treatment before the initiation of AMGEVITA®, and in accordance with local recommendations.
Use of anti-tuberculosis prophylaxis treatment should also be considered before the initiation of AMGEVITA® in patients with several or significant risk factors for tuberculosis despite a negative test for tuberculosis and in patients with a past history of latent or active tuberculosis in whom an adequate course of treatment cannot be confirmed.
Despite prophylactic treatment for tuberculosis, cases of reactivated tuberculosis have occurred in patients treated with adalimumab. Some patients who have been successfully treated for active tuberculosis have redeveloped tuberculosis while being treated with adalimumab.
Patients should be instructed to seek medical advice if signs/symptoms suggestive of a tuberculosis infection (e.g. persistent cough, wasting/weight loss, low grade fever, listlessness) occur during or after therapy with AMGEVITA®.
Other opportunistic infections
Opportunistic infections, including invasive fungal infections have been observed in patients receiving adalimumab. These infections have not consistently been recognised in patients taking TNF-antagonists and this has resulted in delays in appropriate treatment, sometimes resulting in fatal outcomes.
For patients who develop the signs and symptoms such as fever, malaise, weight loss, sweats, cough, dyspnoea, and/or pulmonary infiltrates or other serious systemic illness with or without concomitant shock an invasive fungal infection should be suspected and administration of AMGEVITA® should be promptly discontinued. Diagnosis and administration of empiric antifungal therapy in these patients should be made in consultation with a physician with expertise in the care of patients with invasive fungal infections.
Hepatitis B reactivation
Reactivation of hepatitis B has occurred in patients receiving a TNF-antagonist including adalimumab, who are chronic carriers of this virus (i.e. surface antigen positive). Some cases have had a fatal outcome. Patients should be tested for HBV infection before initiating treatment with AMGEVITA®. For patients who test positive for hepatitis B infection, consultation with a physician with expertise in the treatment of hepatitis B is recommended.
Carriers of HBV who require treatment with AMGEVITA® should be closely monitored for signs and symptoms of active HBV infection throughout therapy and for several months following termination of therapy. Adequate data from treating patients who are carriers of HBV with anti-viral therapy in conjunction with TNF-antagonist therapy to prevent HBV reactivation are not available. In patients who develop HBV reactivation, AMGEVITA® should be stopped and effective anti-viral therapy with appropriate supportive treatment should be initiated.
TNF-antagonists including adalimumab have been associated in rare instances with new onset or exacerbation of clinical symptoms and/or radiographic evidence of central nervous system demyelinating disease including multiple sclerosis and optic neuritis, and peripheral demyelinating disease, including Guillain-Barré syndrome. Prescribers should exercise caution in considering the use of AMGEVITA® in patients with pre-existing or recent-onset central or peripheral nervous system demyelinating disorders; discontinuation of AMGEVITA® should be considered if any of these disorders develop. There is a known association between intermediate uveitis and central demyelinating disorders. Neurologic evaluation should be performed in patients with non-infectious intermediate uveitis prior to the initiation of AMGEVITA® therapy and regularly during treatment to assess for pre-existing or developing central demyelinating disorders.
Serious allergic reactions associated with adalimumab were rare during clinical trials. Non-serious allergic reactions associated with adalimumab were uncommon during clinical trials. Reports of serious allergic reactions including anaphylaxis have been received following adalimumab administration. If an anaphylactic reaction or other serious allergic reaction occurs, administration of AMGEVITA® should be discontinued immediately and appropriate therapy initiated.
Dry natural rubber
The needle cover of the pre-filled pen is made from dry natural rubber (a derivative of latex), which may cause allergic reactions.
In a study of 64 patients with rheumatoid arthritis that were treated with adalimumab, there was no evidence of depression of delayed-type hypersensitivity, depression of immunoglobulin levels, or change in enumeration of effector T-, B-,NK-cells, monocyte/macrophages, and neutrophils.
Malignancies and lymphoproliferative disorders
In the controlled portions of adalimumab clinical trials of TNF-antagonists, more cases of malignancies including lymphoma have been observed among patients receiving a TNF-antagonist compared with control patients. However, the occurrence was rare. In the post-marketing setting, cases of leukaemia have been reported in patients treated with a TNF-antagonist. There is an increased background risk for lymphoma and leukaemia in rheumatoid arthritis patients with long-standing highly active, inflammatory disease, which complicates the risk estimation. With the current knowledge, a possible risk for the development of lymphomas, leukaemia, and other malignancies in patients treated with a TNF-antagonist cannot be excluded.
Malignancies, some fatal, have been reported among children, adolescents and young adults (up to 22 years of age) treated with TNF-antagonists (initiation of therapy ≤ 18 years of age), including adalimumab in the post-marketing setting. Approximately half the cases were lymphomas. The other cases represented a variety of different malignancies and included rare malignancies usually associated with immunosuppression. A risk for the development of malignancies in children and adolescents treated with TNF-antagonists cannot be excluded.
Rare post-marketing cases of hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma have been identified in patients treated with adalimumab. This rare type of T-cell lymphoma has a very aggressive disease course and is usually fatal. Some of these hepatosplenic T-cell lymphomas with adalimumab have occurred in young adult patients on concomitant treatment with azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine used for inflammatory bowel disease. The potential risk with the combination of azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine and AMGEVITA® should be carefully considered. A risk for the development of hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma in patients treated with AMGEVITA® cannot be excluded (see section 4.8 of the Summary of Product Characteristics).
No studies have been conducted that include patients with a history of malignancy or in whom treatment with adalimumab is continued following development of malignancy. Thus additional caution should be exercised in considering AMGEVITA® treatment of these patients (see section 4.8 of the Summary of Product Characteristics).
All patients, and in particular patients with a medical history of extensive immunosuppressant therapy or psoriasis patients with a history of PUVA treatment should be examined for the presence of non-melanoma skin cancer prior to and during treatment with AMGEVITA®. Melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma have also been reported in patients treated with TNF-antagonists including adalimumab (see section 4.8 of the Summary of Product Characteristics).
In an exploratory clinical trial evaluating the use of another TNF-antagonist, infliximab, in patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), more malignancies, mostly in the lung or head and neck, were reported in infliximab-treated patients compared with control patients. All patients had a history of heavy smoking. Therefore, caution should be exercised when using any TNF-antagonist in COPD patients, as well as in patients with increased risk for malignancy due to heavy smoking.
With current data it is not known if adalimumab treatment influences the risk for developing dysplasia or colon cancer. All patients with ulcerative colitis who are at increased risk for dysplasia or colon carcinoma (for example, patients with long-standing ulcerative colitis or primary sclerosing cholangitis), or who had a prior history of dysplasia or colon carcinoma should be screened for dysplasia at regular intervals before therapy and throughout their disease course. This evaluation should include colonoscopy and biopsies per local recommendations.
Rare reports of pancytopenia including aplastic anaemia have been reported with TNF-antagonists. Adverse events of the haematologic system, including medically significant cytopenia (e.g. thrombocytopenia, leukopenia) have been reported with adalimumab. All patients should be advised to seek immediate medical attention if they develop signs and symptoms suggestive of blood dyscrasias (e.g. persistent fever, bruising, bleeding, pallor) while on AMGEVITA®. Discontinuation of AMGEVITA® therapy should be considered in patients with confirmed significant haematologic abnormalities.
Similar antibody responses to the standard 23-valent pneumococcal vaccine and the influenza trivalent virus vaccination were observed in a study in 226 adult subjects with rheumatoid arthritis who were treated with adalimumab or placebo. No data are available on the secondary transmission of infection by live vaccines in patients receiving adalimumab.
It is recommended that paediatric patients, if possible, be brought up to date with all immunisations in agreement with current immunisation guidelines prior to initiating AMGEVITA® therapy.
Patients on AMGEVITA® may receive concurrent vaccinations, except for live vaccines. Administration of live vaccines (e.g. BCG vaccine) to infants exposed to AMGEVITA® in utero is not recommended for 5 months following the mother's last AMGEVITA® injection during pregnancy.
Congestive heart failure
In a clinical trial with another TNF-antagonist worsening congestive heart failure and increased mortality due to congestive heart failure have been observed. Cases of worsening congestive heart failure have also been reported in patients receiving adalimumab. AMGEVITA® should be used with caution in patients with mild heart failure (NYHA class I/II). AMGEVITA® is contraindicated in moderate to severe heart failure (see section 4.3 of the Summary of Product Characteristics). Treatment with AMGEVITA® must be discontinued in patients who develop new or worsening symptoms of congestive heart failure.
Treatment with AMGEVITA® may result in the formation of autoimmune antibodies. The impact of long-term treatment with AMGEVITA® on the development of autoimmune diseases is unknown. If a patient develops symptoms suggestive of a lupus-like syndrome following treatment with AMGEVITA® and is positive for antibodies against double-stranded DNA, further treatment with AMGEVITA® should not be given (see section 4.8 of the Summary of Product Characteristics).
Concurrent administration of biologic DMARDs or TNF-antagonists
Serious infections were seen in clinical studies with concurrent use of anakinra and another TNF-antagonist, etanercept, with no added clinical benefit compared to etanercept alone. Because of the nature of the adverse events seen with the combination of etanercept and anakinra therapy, similar toxicities may also result from the combination of anakinra and other TNF-antagonists. Therefore, the combination of AMGEVITA® and anakinra is not recommended (see section 4.5 of the Summary of Product Characteristics).
Concomitant administration of AMGEVITA® with other biologic DMARDs (e.g. anakinra and abatacept) or other TNF-antagonists is not recommended based upon the possible increased risk for infections, including serious infections and other potential pharmacological interactions (see section 4.5 of the Summary of Product Characteristics).
There is limited safety experience of surgical procedures in patients treated with adalimumab. The long half-life of adalimumab should be taken into consideration if a surgical procedure is planned. A patient who requires surgery while on AMGEVITA® should be closely monitored for infections, and appropriate actions should be taken. There is limited safety experience in patients undergoing arthroplasty while receiving adalimumab.
Small bowel obstruction
Failure to respond to treatment for Crohn's disease may indicate the presence of fixed fibrotic stricture that may require surgical treatment. Available data suggest that adalimumab does not worsen or cause strictures.
The frequency of serious infections among adalimumab-treated subjects over 65 years of age (3.7%) was higher than for those under 65 years of age (1.5%). Some of those had a fatal outcome. Particular attention regarding the risk for infection should be paid when treating the elderly.
Excipients with known effects
The medicinal product contains less than 1 mmol of sodium (23 mg) per 0.8 ml, i.e. essentially 'sodium-free'.