METHOTREXATE SHOULD BE USED ONLY BY PHYSICIANS WHOSE KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE INCLUDE THE USE OF ANTIMETABOLITE THERAPY.
BECAUSE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SERIOUS TOXIC REACTIONS (WHICH CAN BE FATAL):
Each tablet contains methotrexate sodium equivalent to:
Methotrexate . . . . . . . . . . 2.5 mg
Methotrexate is an antimetabolite used in the treatment of certain neoplastic diseases, severe psoriasis, and adult rheumatoid arthritis.
Chemically methotrexate is N-[4-[[(2,4-diamino-6-pteridinyl)methyl]methylamino]benzoyl]-L-glutamic acid. The structural formula is:
Methotrexate Tablets for oral administration are available in bottles of 36, bottles of 100, and unit dose cartons of 100 bulers. Methotrexate Tablets contain an amount of methotrexate sodium equivalent to 2.5 mg of methotrexate and the following inactive ingredients: lactose, magnesium stearate, pregelatinized starch NF, sodium hydroxide, and sodium starch glycolate.
Methotrexate inhibits dihydrofolic acid reductase. Dihydrofolates must be reduced to tetrahydrofolates by this enzyme before they can be utilized as carriers of one-carbon groups in the synthesis of purine nucleotides and thymidylate. Therefore, methotrexate interferes with DNA synthesis, repair, and cellular replication. Actively proliferating tissues such as malignant cells, bone marrow, fetal cells, buccal and intestinal mucosa, and cells of the urinary bladder are in general more sensitive to this effect of methotrexate. When cellular proliferation in malignant tissues is greater than in most normal tissues, methotrexate may impair malignant growth without irreversible damage to normal tissues.
The mechanism of action in rheumatoid arthritis is unknown; it may affect immune function. Two reports describe in vitro methotrexate inhibition of DNA precursor uptake by stimulated mononuclear cells, and another describes in animal polyarthritis partial correction by methotrexate of spleen cell hyporesponsiveness and suppressed IL 2 production. Other laboratories, however, have been unable to demonstrate similar effects. Clarification of methotrexate’s effect on immune activity and its relation to rheumatoid immunopathogenesis await further studies.
In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, effects of methotrexate on articular swelling and tenderness can be seen as early as 3 to 6 weeks. Although methotrexate clearly ameliorates symptoms of inflammation (pain, swelling, stiffness), there is no evidence that it induces remission of rheumatoid arthritis nor has a beneficial effect been demonstrated on bone erosions and other radiologic changes which result in impaired joint use, functional disability, and deformity.
Most studies of methotrexate in patients with rheumatoid arthritis are relatively short term (3 to 6 months). Limited data from long-term studies indicate that an initial clinical improvement is maintained for at least two years with continued therapy.
In psoriasis, the rate of production of epithelial cells in the skin is greatly increased over normal skin. This differential in proliferation rates is the basis for the use of methotrexate to control the psoriatic process.
In a 6-month double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 127 pediatric patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) (mean age, 10.1 years; age range, 2.5 to 18 years; mean duration of disease, 5.1 years) on background non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and/or prednisone, methotrexate given weekly at an oral dose of 10 mg/m2 provided significant clinical improvement compared to placebo as measured by either the physician’s global assessment, or by a patient composite (25% reduction in the articular-severity score plus improvement in parent and physician global assessments of disease activity). Over two-thirds of the patients in this trial had polyarticular-course JRA, and the numerically greatest response was seen in this subgroup treated with 10 mg/m2/wk methotrexate. The overwhelming majority of the remaining patients had systemic-course JRA. All patients were unresponsive to NSAIDS; approximately one-third were using low dose corticosteroids. Weekly methotrexate at a dose of 5 mg/m2 was not significantly more effective than placebo in this trial.
Methotrexate is indicated in the treatment of gestational choriocarcinoma, chorioadenoma destruens and hydatidiform mole.
Methotrexate is used in maintenance therapy in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents.
Methotrexate is used alone or in combination with other anticancer agents in the treatment of breast cancer, epidermoid cancers of the head and neck, advanced mycosis fungoides (cutaneous T cell lymphoma) and lung cancer, particularly squamous cell and small cell types. Methotrexate is also used in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of advanced stage non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.
Methotrexate is indicated in the symptomatic control of severe, recalcitrant, disabling psoriasis that is not adequately responsive to other forms of therapy, but only when the diagnosis has been established, as by biopsy and/or after dermatologic consultation. It is important to ensure that a psoriasis “flare” is not due to an undiagnosed concomitant disease affecting immune responses.
Methotrexate is indicated in the management of selected adults with severe, active, rheumatoid arthritis (ACR criteria), or children with active polyarticular-course juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, who have had an insufficient therapeutic response to, or are intolerant of, an adequate trial of first-line therapy including full dose nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs).
Aspirin, NSAIDs, and/or low dose steroids may be continued, although the possibility of increased toxicity with concomitant use of NSAIDs including salicylates has not been fully explored. (See PRECAUTIONS, Drug Interactions.) Steroids may be reduced gradually in patients who respond to methotrexate. Combined use of methotrexate with gold, penicillamine, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine, or cytotoxic agents, has not been studied and may increase the incidence of adverse effects. Rest and physiotherapy as indicated should be continued.
Methotrexate can cause fetal death or teratogenic effects when administered to a pregnant woman. Methotrexate is contraindicated in pregnant women with psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis and should be used in the treatment of neoplastic diseases only when the potential benefit outweighs the risk to the fetus. Women of childbearing potential should not be started on methotrexate until pregnancy is excluded and should be fully counseled on the serious risk to the fetus (see PRECAUTIONS) should they be come pregnant while undergoing treatment. Pregnancy should be avoided if either partner is receiving methotrexate; during and for a minimum of three months after therapy for male patients, and during and for at least one ovulatory cycle after therapy for female patients. (See BoxedWARNINGS.)
Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions from methotrexate in breast fed infants, it is contraindicated in nursing mothers.
Patients with psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis with alcoholism, alcoholic liver disease or other chronic liver disease should not receive methotrexate.
Patients with psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis who have overt or laboratory evidence of immunodeficiency syndromes should not receive methotrexate.
Patients with psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis who have preexisting blood dyscrasias, such as bone marrow hypoplasia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia or significant anemia, should not receive methotrexate.
Patients with a known hypersensitivity to methotrexate should not receive the drug.
See Boxed WARNINGS.
Methotrexate formulations and diluents containing preservatives must not be used for intrathecal or high dose methotrexate therapy.
Methotrexate has the potential for serious toxicity. (See Boxed WARNINGS.) Toxic effects may be related in frequency and severity to dose or frequency of administration but have been seen at all doses. Because they can occur at any time during therapy, it is necessary to follow patients on methotrexate closely. Most adverse reactions are reversible if detected early. When such reactions do occur, the drug should be reduced in dosage or discontinued and appropriate corrective measures should be taken. If necessary, this could include the use of leucovorin calcium and/or acute, intermittent hemodialysis with a high-flux dialyzer. (See OVERDOSAGE.) If methotrexate therapy is reinstituted, it should be carried out with caution, with adequate consideration of further need for the drug and with increased alertness as to possible recurrence of toxicity.
The clinical pharmacology of methotrexate has not been well studied in older individuals. Due to diminished hepatic and renal function as well as decreased folate stores in this population, relatively low doses should be considered, and these patients should be closely monitored for early signs of toxicity.
Patients should be informed of the early signs and symptoms of toxicity, of the need to see their physician promptly if they occur, and the need for close follow-up, including periodic laboratory tests to monitor toxicity.
Both the physician and pharmacist should emphasize to the patient that the recommended dose is taken weekly in rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, and that mistaken daily use of the recommended dose has led to fatal toxicity. Patients should be encouraged to read the attached Patient Instructions. Prescriptions should not be written or refilled on a PRN basis.
Patients should be informed of the potential benefit and risk in the use of methotrexate. The risk of effects on reproduction should be discussed with both male and female patients taking methotrexate.
Patients undergoing methotrexate therapy should be closely monitored so that toxic effects are detected promptly. Baseline assessment should include a complete blood count with differential and platelet counts, hepatic enzymes, renal function tests, and a chest X-ray. During therapy of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, monitoring of these parameters is recommended: hematology at least monthly, and renal function and liver function every 1 to 2 months. More frequent monitoring is usually indicated during antineoplastic therapy. During initial or changing doses, or during periods of increased risk of elevated methotrexate blood levels (e.g., dehydration), more frequent monitoring may also be indicated.
Transient liver function test abnormalities are observed frequently after methotrexate administration and are usually not cause for modification of methotrexate therapy. Persistent liver function test abnormalities, and/or depression of serum albumin may be indicators of serious liver toxicity and require evaluation. (See PRECAUTIONS; Organ System Toxicity: Hepatic.)
A relationship between abnormal liver function tests and fibrosis or cirrhosis of the liver has not been established for patients with psoriasis. Persistent abnormalities in liver function tests may precede appearance of fibrosis or cirrhosis in the rheumatoid arthritis population.
Pulmonary function tests may be useful if methotrexate-induced lung disease is suspected, especially if baseline measurements are available.
Concomitant administration of some NSAIDs with high dose methotrexate therapy has been reported to elevate and prolong serum methotrexate levels, resulting in deaths from severe hematologic and gastrointestinal toxicity.
Caution should be used when NSAIDs and salicylates are administered concomitantly with lower doses of methotrexate. These drugs have been reported to reduce the tubular secretion of methotrexate in an animal model and may enhance its toxicity.
Despite the potential interactions, studies of methotrexate in patients with rheumatoid arthritis have usually included concurrent use of constant dosage regimens of NSAIDs, without apparent problems. It should be appreciated, however, that the doses used in rheumatoid arthritis (7.5 to 15 mg/week) are somewhat lower than those used in psoriasis and that larger doses could lead to unexpected toxicity.
Methotrexate is partially bound to serum albumin, and toxicity may be increased because of displacement by certain drugs, such as salicylates, phenylbutazone, phenytoin, and sulfonamides. Renal tubular transport is also diminished by probenecid; use of methotrexate with this drug should be carefully monitored.
Oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, chloramphenicol, and nonabsorbable broad spectrum antibiotics, may decrease intestinal absorption of methotrexate or interfere with the enterohepatic circulation by inhibiting bowel flora and suppressing metabolism of the drug by bacteria.
Penicillins may reduce the renal clearance of methotrexate; increased serum concentrations of methotrexate with concomitant hematologic and gastrointestinal toxicity have been observed with high and low dose methotrexate. Use of methotrexate with penicillins should be carefully monitored.
The potential for increased hepatotoxicity when methotrexate is administered with other hepatoxic agents has not been evaluated. However, hepatotoxicity has been reported in such cases. Therefore, patients receiving concomitant therapy with methotrexate and other potential hepatotoxins (e.g., azathioprine, retinoids, sulfasalazine) should be closely monitored for possible increased risk of hepatotoxicity.
Methotrexate may decrease the clearance of theophylline; theophylline levels should be monitored when used concurrently with methotrexate.
Certain side effects such as mouth sores may be reduced by folate supplementation with methotrexate.
Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole has been reported rarely to increase bone marrow suppression in patients receiving methotrexate, probably by an additive antifolate effect.
No controlled human data exist regarding the risk of neoplasia with methotrexate. Methotrexate has been evaluated in a number of animal studies for carcinogenic potential with inconclusive results. Although there is evidence that methotrexate causes chromosomal damage to animal somatic cells and human bone marrow cells, the clinical significance remains uncertain. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other tumors have been reported in patients receiving low-dose oral methotrexate. However, there have been instances of malignant lymphoma arising during treatment with low-dose oral methotrexate, which have regressed completely following withdrawal of methotrexate, without requiring active anti-lymphoma treatment. Benefits should be weighed against the potential risks before using methotrexate alone or in combination with other drugs, especially in pediatric patients or young adults. Methotrexate causes embryotoxicity, abortion, and fetal defects in humans. It has also been reported to cause impairment of fertility, oligospermia and menstrual dysfunction in humans, during and for a short period after cessation of therapy.
Psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis: Methotrexate is in Pregnancy Category X. See CONTRAINDICATIONS.
Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have been established only in cancer chemotherapy and in polyarticular-course juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Published clinical studies evaluating the use of methotrexate in children and adolescents (i.e., patients 2 to 16 years of age) with JRA demonstrated safety comparable to that observed in adults with rheumatoid arthritis. (See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, ADVERSE REACTIONS and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION.)
Clinical studies of methotrexate did not include sufficient numbers of subjects age 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic and renal function, decreased folate stores, concomitant disease or other drug therapy (i.e., that interfere with renal function, methotrexate or folate metabolism) in this population (see Precautions: Drug Interactions). Since decline in renal function may be associated with increases in adverse events and serum creatinine measurements may over estimate renal function in the elderly, more accurate methods (i.e., creatinine clearance) should be considered. Serum methotrexate levels may also be helpful. Elderly patients should be closely monitored for early signs of hepatic, bone marrow and renal toxicity. In chronic use situations, certain toxicities may be reduced by folate supplementation. Postmarketing experience suggests that the occurrence of bone marrow suppression, thrombocytopenia, and pneumonitis may increase with age. See Boxed WARNINGS and Adverse Reactions.
IN GENERAL, THE INCIDENCE AND SEVERITY OF ACUTE SIDE EFFECTS ARE RELATED TO DOSE AND FREQUENCY OF ADMINISTRATION. THE MOST SERIOUS REACTIONS ARE DISCUSSED ABOVE UNDER ORGAN SYSTEM TOXICITY IN THE PRECAUTION SECTION. THAT SECTION SHOULD ALSO BE CONSULTED WHEN LOOKING FOR INFORMATION ABOUT ADVERSE REACTIONS WITH METHOTREXATE.
The most frequently reported adverse reactions include ulcerative stomatitis, leukopenia, nausea, and abdominal distress. Other frequently reported adverse effects are malaise, undue fatigue, chills and fever, dizziness and decreased resistance to infection.
Other adverse reactions that have been reported with methotrexate are uled below by organ system. In the oncology setting, concomitant treatment and the underlying disease make specific attribution of a reaction to methotrexate difficult.
Alimentary System: gingivitis, pharyngitis, stomatitis, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hematemesis, melena, gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding, enteritis, pancreatitis.
Blood and Lymphatic System Disorders: Suppressed hematopoiesis causing anemia, aplastic anemia, pancytopenia, leukopenia, neutropenia, and/or thrombocytopenia, lymphadenopathy and lymphoproliferative disorders (including reversible). Hypogammaglobulinemia has been reported rarely.
Cardiovascular: pericarditis, pericardial effusion, hypotension, and thromboembolic events (including arterial thrombosis, cerebral thrombosis, deep vein thrombosis, retinal vein thrombosis, thrombophlebitis, and pulmonary embolus).
Central Nervous System: headaches, drowsiness, blurred vision, transient blindness, speech impairment including dysarthria and aphasia, hemiparesis, paresis and convulsions have also occurred following administration of methotrexate. Following low doses, there have been occasional reports of transient subtle cognitive dysfunction, mood alteration, unusual cranial sensations, leukoencephalopathy, or encephalopathy.
Hepatobiliary Disorders: hepatotoxicity, acute hepatitis, chronic fibrosis and cirrhosis, decrease in serum albumin, liver enzyme elevations.
Infection: There have been case reports of sometimes fatal opportunistic infections in patients receiving methotrexate therapy for neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases. Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia was the most common opportunistic infection. There have also been reports of infections, pneumonia, sepsis, nocardiosis, histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, Herpes zoster, H. simplex hepatitis, and disseminated H. simplex.
Musculoskeletal System: stress fracture.
Ophthalmic: conjuctivitis, serious visual changes of unknown etiology.
Pulmonary System: respiratory fibrosis, respiratory failure, interstitial pneumonitis deaths have been reported, and chronic interstitial obstructive pulmonary disease has occasionally occurred.
Skin: erythematous rashes, pruritus, urticaria, photosensitivity, pigmentary changes, alopecia, ecchymosis, telangiectasia, acne, furunculosis, erythema multiforme, toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, skin necrosis, skin ulceration, and exfoliative dermatitis.
Urogenital System: severe nephropathy or renal failure, azotemia, cystitis, hematuria; defective oogenesis or spermatogenesis, transient oligospermia, menstrual dysfunction, vaginal discharge, and gynecomastia; infertility, abortion, fetal defects.
Other rarer reactions related to or attributed to the use of methotrexate such as nodulosis, vasculitis, arthralgia/myalgia, loss of libido/impotence, diabetes, osteoporosis, sudden death, reversible lymphomas, tumor lysis syndrome, soft tissue necrosis and osteonecrosis. Anaphylactoid reactions have been reported.
The approximate incidences of methotrexate attributed (i.e., placebo rate subtracted) adverse reactions in 12 to 18 week double-blind studies of patients (n = 128) with rheumatoid arthritis treated with low-dose oral (7.5 to 15 mg/week) pulse methotrexate, are uled below. Virtually all of these patients were on concomitant nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and some were also taking low dosages of corticosteroids. Hepatic histology was not examined in these short-term studies. (See PRECAUTIONS.)
Incidence Greater than 10%: Elevated liver function tests 15%, nausea/vomiting 10%.
Incidence 3% to 10%: Stomatitis, thrombocytopenia (platelet count less than 100,000/mm3).
Incidence 1% to 3%: Rash/pruritus/dermatitis, diarrhea, alopecia, leukopenia (WBC less than 3000/mm3), pancytopenia, dizziness.
Two other controlled trials of patients (n = 680) with Rheumatoid Arthritis on 7.5mg - 15mg/wk oral doses showed an incidence of interstitial pneumonitis of 1%. (See PRECAUTIONS.)
Other less common reactions included decreased hematocrit, headache, upper respiratory infection, anorexia, arthralgias, chest pain, coughing, dysuria, eye discomfort, epistaxis, fever, infection, sweating, tinnitus, and vaginal discharge.
There are no recent placebo-controlled trials in patients with psoriasis. There are two literature reports (Roenigk, 1969 and Nyfors, 1978) describing large series (n = 204, 248) of psoriasis patients treated with methotrexate. Dosages ranged up to 25 mg per week and treatment was administered for up to four years. With the exception of alopecia, photosensitivity, and “burning of skin lesions” (each 3% to 10%), the adverse reaction rates in these reports were very similar to those in the rheumatoid arthritis studies. Rarely, painful plaque erosions may appear.
The approximate incidences of adverse reactions reported in pediatric patients with JRA treated with oral, weekly doses of methotrexate (5 to 20 mg/m2/wk or 0.1 to 0.65 mg/kg/wk) were as follows (virtually all patients were receiving concomitant nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and some also were taking low doses of corticosteroids): elevated liver function tests, 14%; gastrointestinal reactions (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), 11%; stomatitis, 2%; leukopenia, 2%; headache, 1.2%; alopecia, 0.5%; dizziness, 0.2%; and rash, 0.2%. Although there is experience with dosing up to 30 mg/m2/wk in JRA, the published data for doses above 20 mg/m2/wk are too limited to provide reliable estimates of adverse reaction rates.
Leucovorin is indicated to diminish the toxicity and counteract the effect of inadvertently administered overdosages of methotrexate. Leucovorin administration should begin as promptly as possible. As the time interval between methotrexate administration and leucovorin initiation increases, the effectiveness of leucovorin in counteracting toxicity decreases. Monitoring of the serum methotrexate concentration is essential in determining the optimal dose and duration of treatment with leucovorin.
In cases of massive overdosage, hydration and urinary alkalinization may be necessary to prevent the precipitation of methotrexate and/or its metabolites in the renal tubules. Generally speaking, neither hemodialysis nor peritoneal dialysis have been shown to improve methotrexate elimination. However, effective clearance of methotrexate has been reported with acute, intermittent hemodialysis using a high-flux dialyzer (Wall, SM et al: Am J Kidney Dis 28(6): 846-854, 1996).
In postmarketing experience, overdose with methotrexate has generally occurred with oral and intrathecal administration, although intravenous and intramuscular overdose have also been reported.
Reports of oral overdose often indicate accidental daily administration instead of weekly (single or divided doses). Symptoms commonly reported following oral overdose include those symptoms and signs reported at pharmacologic doses, partially hematologic and gastrointestinal reaction. For example, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, anemia, pancytopenia, bone marrow suppression, mucositis, stomatitis, oral ulceration, nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal ulceration, gastrointestinal bleeding. In some cases, no symptoms were reported. There have been reports of death following overdose. In these cases, events such as sepsis or septic shock, renal failure, and aplastic anemia were also reported.
Oral administration in tablet form is often preferred when low doses are being administered since absorption is rapid and effective serum levels are obtained.
Procedures for proper handling and disposal of anticancer drugs should be considered. Several guidelines on this subject have been published.1-5 There is no general agreement that all of the procedures recommended in the guidelines are necessary or appropriate.
Methotrexate Tablets USP 2.5 mg (contain an amount of methotrexate sodium equivalent to 2.5 mg of methotrexate)
Yellow, round, scored tablets (Identified 54 323)
NDC 0054-8550-25: Unit dose, 10 tablets per strip, 10 strips per shelf pack, 10 shelf packs per shipper.
NDC 0054-4550-15: Bottles of 36 tablets.
NDC 0054-4550-25: Bottles of 100 tablets.
Store at 20° to 25°C (68° to 77°F). [See USP Controlled Room Temperature].
PROTECT FROM LIGHT.
Dispense with a child-resistant closure in a well-closed container as defined in the USP/NF.
Revised February 2007
© RLI, 2007
METHOTREXATE Tablets USP, 2.5 mg
Read the Patient Information that comes with Methotrexate Tablets USP, 2.5 mg before you start using it and each time you get a refill. There may be new information. This leaflet does not take the place of talking with your doctor about your condition or treatment.
Methotrexate is a prescription medicine used in treating certain cancers, severe rheumatoid arthritis including polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and severe psoriasis.
Do not take Methotrexate if:
Before using Methotrexate tell your doctor
Methotrexate can cause serious and life-threatening problems including (see “What is the most important information I should know about Methotrexate?”):
The most common side effects of Methotrexate include:
Stop taking Methotrexate and call your doctor right away if you get diarrhea, mouth sores, a fever, dehydration, cough, bleeding, shortness of breath, any signs of infection, or a skin rash. If you have any questions about these or other side effects, talk to your doctor. These are not all the side effects of Methotrexate. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
General information about Methotrexate
Medicines are sometimes prescribed for conditions other than those described in patient information leaflets. Do not use Methotrexate for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not give Methotrexate to other people, even if they have the same symptoms that you have. It may harm them.
This leaflet summarizes the most important information about Methotrexate. If you would like more information, talk with your doctor. You can ask your doctor or pharmacist for information about Methotrexate that is written for healthcare professionals.
For additional information, you may contact Roxane Laboratories at 1-800-962-8364 or at www.roxane.com.
Active Ingredient: Methotrexate contains an amount of methotrexate sodium equivalent to 2.5 mg of methotrexate.
Inactive Ingredients: lactose, magnesium stearate, pregelatinized starch NF, sodium hydroxide, and sodium starch glycolate.
© RLI, 2007