Drug Safety Communication on Brentuximab Vedotin [Adcetris] – Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) and Pulmonary Toxicity

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January 16, 2012 – The American Food and Drug Administration ( FDA) released on January 13, 2012 the following drug safety communication:

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ISSUE: FDA notified healthcare professionals that two additional cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare but serious brain infection that can result in death, have been reported with the lymphoma drug Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin). Due to the serious nature of PML, a new Boxed Warning highlighting this risk has been added to the drug label.

In addition, a new Contraindication warning was added against use of Adcetris with the cancer drug bleomycin due to increased risk of pulmonary (lung) toxicity.

The signs and symptoms of PML may develop over the course of several weeks or months. They may include changes in mood or usual behavior, confusion, thinking problems, loss of memory, changes in vision, speech, or walking, and decreased strength or weakness on one side of the body.

BACKGROUND: Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin) is used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma and a rare lymphoma known as systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma. At the time of Adcetris’ approval in August 2011, one case of PML was described in the Warnings and Precautions section of the label.

RECOMMENDATION: Patients who develop any signs and symptoms of PML should notify their healthcare professional immediately. Healthcare professionals should hold Adcetris dosing if PML is suspected and discontinue Adcetris if a diagnosis of PML is confirmed. See the Data Summary in the Drug Safety Communication for additional information.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

  • Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm1
  • Download form2 or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

 More Information as of 01/13/2012 – Drug Safety Communication3 – FDA]

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About the Author
Joseph Gut - thasso Ph.D.; Professor in Pharmacology and Toxicology. Senior expert in theragenomic and personalized medicine and individualized drug safety. Senior expert in pharmaco- and toxicogenetics. Senior expert in human safety of drugs, chemicals, environmental pollutants, and dietary ingredients.

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