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Important Safety Information

Adverse Reactions

The most common adverse reaction occurring in > 20% of patients is mylelosuppression including anemia, neutropenia, lymphopenia and thrombocytopenia. Adverse reactions occurring 5 to 20 % include anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, malaise, and rash. Adverse reactions occurring in < 5 % of patients include urticaria, hyperuricemia, oral lesions, elevated transaminases, hyperbilirubinemia, hyperpigmentation, and pancreatitis. Oral lesions resemble thrush rather than antifolic ulcerations.

Delayed or late toxicities include hepatic fibrosis, hyperbilirubinemia, alopecia, pulmonary fibrosis, oligospermia and secondary malignancies.

Warnings and Precautions

The most consistent, dose-related toxicity of PURIXAN is bone marrow suppression, manifested by anemia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, or any combination of these. Monitor CBC and adjust the dose of PURIXAN for severe neutropenia and thrombocytopenia.
Evaluate patients with repeated severe myelosuppression for thiopurine S-methyltransferase (TPMT) deficiency. Patients with homozygous-TPMT deficiency require substantial dose reductions of PURIXAN.

Avoid the concurrent use of allopurinol and PURIXAN. Concomitant allopurinol and PURIXAN can result in a significant increase in bone marrow toxicity. Myelosuppression can be exacerbated by coadministration with drugs that inhibit TPMT (e.g., olsalazine, mesalamine, or sulfasalazine) or drugs whose primary or secondary toxicity is myelosuppression.

Mercaptopurine is hepatotoxic. There are reports of deaths attributed to hepatic necrosis associated with the administration of mercaptopurine. Hepatic injury can occur with any dosage, but seems to occur with greater frequency when the recommended dosage is exceeded. In some patients jaundice has cleared following withdrawal of mercaptopurine and reappeared with rechallenge.

Usually, clinically detectable jaundice appears early in the course of treatment (1 to 2 months). However, jaundice has been reported as early as 1 week and as late as 8 years after the start of treatment with mercaptopurine. The hepatotoxicity has been associated in some cases with anorexia, diarrhea, jaundice and ascites. Hepatic encephalopathy has occurred.

Monitor serum transaminase levels, alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin levels at weekly intervals when first beginning therapy and at monthly intervals thereafter. Monitor liver function more frequently in patients who are receiving mercaptopurine with other hepatotoxic drugs or with known pre-existing liver disease. Interrupt PURIXAN in patients with onset of clinical or laboratory evidence of hepatotoxicity.

Mercaptopurine is immunosuppressive and may impair the immune response to infectious agents or vaccines. Due to the immunosuppression associated with maintenance chemotherapy for ALL, response to all vaccines may be diminished and there is a risk of infection with live virus vaccines. Consult immunization guidelines for immunocompromised children.

Embryo-Fetal Toxicity
PURIXAN can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Women receiving PURIXAN in the first trimester of pregnancy have an increased incidence of abortion. Adverse embryo-fetal findings were reported in women receiving mercaptopurine after the first trimester of pregnancy and included abortion and stillbirth.

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. If this drug is used during pregnancy or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking the drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to a fetus. Women of childbearing potential should be advised to avoid becoming pregnant while receiving PURIXAN.

Treatment Related Malignancies
Cases of hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma have been reported in patients treated with mercaptopurine for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), an unapproved use. . Mercaptopurine is mutagenic in animals and humans, carcinogenic in animals, and may increase the risk of secondary malignancies.

Patients receiving immunosuppressive therapy, including mercaptopurine, are at an increased risk of developing lymphoproliferative disorders and other malignancies, notably skin cancers (melanoma and non-melanoma), sarcomas (Kaposi’s and non-Kaposi’s) and uterine cervical cancer in situ. The increased risk appears to be related to the degree and duration of immunosuppression. It has been reported that discontinuation of immunosuppression may provide partial regression of the lymphoproliferative disorder.

A treatment regimen containing multiple immunosuppressants (including thiopurines) should therefore be used with caution as this could lead to lymphoproliferative disorders, some with reported fatalities. A combination of multiple immunosuppressants, given concomitantly increases the risk of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated lymphoproliferative disorders.

Macrophage Activation Syndrome
Macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) (hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis) is a known, life-threatening disorder that may develop in patients with autoimmune conditions, in particular with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and there could potentially be an increased susceptibility for developing the condition with the use of mercaptopurine (an unapproved use). If MAS occurs, or is suspected, discontinue mercaptopurine. Monitor for and promptly treat infections such as EBV and cytomegalovirus (CMV), as these are known triggers for MAS.

Laboratory Tests
Monitor the following laboratory tests in patients receiving PURIXAN: Complete blood counts (CBCs), transaminases, and bilirubin. Evaluate the bone marrow in patients with prolonged or repeated marrow suppression to assess leukemia status and marrow cellularity. Evaluate TPMT status in patients with clinical or laboratory evidence of severe bone marrow toxicity, or repeated episodes of myelosuppression.