FDA Puts Strict Limits on Oral Ketoconazole Use

By John Gever, Deputy Managing Editor, MedPage Today

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Oral ketoconazole (Nizoral) should never be used as first-line therapy for any type of fungal infection because of the risk of liver toxicity and interactions with other drugs, the FDA said Friday.

The agency ordered a series of label changes and a new medication guide for patients that emphasize the risks, which also include adrenal insufficiency. It noted that the restrictions apply only to the oral formulation, not topical versions.

Late Thursday, the chief advisory body for the FDA’s European counterpart went further. The EU’s Committee on Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommended that member nations pull oral ketoconazole from their markets entirely.

Both the FDA and the CHMP cited studies indicating high risks of severe, acute liver injury in patients taking the drug. Studies using the FDA’s adverse event reporting system and a similar database in the U.K. indicated that liver toxicity was more common with oral ketoconazole than with other anti-fungals in the azole class.

The FDA also said that oral ketoconazole “is one of the most potent inhibitors” of the CYP3A4 enzyme. This effect can lead to sometimes life-threatening interactions with other drugs metabolized by CYP3A4, and also to adrenal insufficiency, since the enzyme also catalyzes release of adrenal steroid hormones.

“This accounts for clinically important endocrinologic abnormalities observed in some patients (particularly when the drug is administered at high dosages), including gynecomastia in men and menstrual irregularities in women,” the FDA said.

The only indication for oral ketoconazole still supported by the FDA is for use in life-threatening mycoses in patients who cannot tolerate other anti-fungal medications or when such medications are unavailable.

In such instances, the FDA said, physicians should assess liver function before starting the drug. It is contraindicated in patients with pre-existing liver disease, and patients should be instructed not to drink alcohol or use other potentially hepatotoxic drugs.

Adrenal function should also be monitored in patients using the drug.

The CHMP also indicated the topical formulations of ketoconazole should stay on the market, but it found no basis for keeping the oral form available for any purpose.

“Taking into account the increased rate of liver injury and the availability of alternative anti-fungal treatments, the CHMP concluded that the benefits did not outweigh the risks,” the panel indicated in a statement.

It recommended that physicians stop prescribing oral ketoconazole and that they should review alternatives in patients currently receiving the drug. The committee also said that patients now taking oral ketoconazole “make a non-urgent appointment” with their physicians to discuss their treatment.

From MedPage Today

Case study shows chronic marijuana use associated with hypopituitarism

PHOENIX — Results of a case study presented here at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists 22nd Scientific and Clinical Congress demonstrate that smoking marijuana may result in serious endocrine complications.

Hormone feedback cycles

Hormone feedback cycles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“We really feel that the evidence to-date shows this is a much more serious health problem than we’ve given credit to,” Pinsker said during a press conference. “Marijuana’s always been laughed off: ‘it’s a kid’s drug; they’ll outgrow it.’ In certain communities, it’s so common that people look at it as if they’re having a glass of beer. I think it’s time that physicians start having their antenna up for all the difficulties that come with this drug.”

The patient presented to the emergency department with dyspnea on exertion, increasing fatigue and loss of libido with no previous radiation exposure or head trauma. He had bibasilar rales, gynecomastia and bilateral atrophied testis.

His hormonal evaluation demonstrated low Luteinizing Hormone (0.2 mIU/mL); FSH (1.8 mIU/mL) and testosterone (22 ng/dL), as well as high prolactin (53.3 ng/mL).

Additionally, the patient had ACTH of 6 pg/mL and cortisol of 6.4 ug/dL at 0 minutes and 9.3 ug/dL at 60 minutes following cosyntropin administration.

Further labs revealed low total T3 (30 ng/dL); high T3 resin reuptake (49%); low total T4 (3.94 ng/dL); normal free T4 (0.97 ng/dL) and low TSH (0.22 uIU/mL). Growth hormone was within normal range (5.0 ng/mL) and IGF-I was low (75 ng/mL; Z-score of -1.3). An MRI revealed a slightly enlarged protuberant pituitary gland, but no identified mass lesion.

After being started on cortisone 25 mg in the morning and 12.5 mg at bedtime, as well as levothyroxine 25 mcg daily, the patient’s fatigue and edema improved significantly, according to the abstract.

In this case, severe hypopituitarism occurred from interference between THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana which has the ability to alter neural transmitters in the hypothalamus, and hypothalamic function.

Additionally, studies show that marijuana impairs the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRh), resulting in reduced production of testosterone.

Other symptoms seen with prolonged use include cognitive decline in school children and older people, according to Pinsker. “The public will become more attuned to looking for these things. We’re going to have what we call a surveillance bias and we’re going to start discovering that it’s a lot higher than we gave it credit for, both because of increased use and because we’re going to be looking for it.”

The authors conclude that, as many states consider the legalization of marijuana, more study should be conducted with regard to the effects of chronic use of the drug on the endocrine system.

“Of course this is one case report, but I think it should alert further research that needs to be done, “ said Pinsker. “Something prospectively should be done to map this out more scientifically, but this would be difficult in what, to-date, has been an illegal substance.”

For more information:

Pinsker R. Abstract #825. Presented at: the AACE Annual Scientific and Clinical Congress; May 1-5, 2013; Phoenix.

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

 From Healio.com
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