FDA modifies monitoring for neutropenia; approves new shared REMS program
AUDIENCE: Psychiatry, Pharmacy, Hematology
ISSUE: FDA is making changes to the requirements for monitoring, prescribing, dispensing, and receiving the schizophrenia medicine clozapine, to address continuing safety concerns and current knowledge about a serious blood condition called severe neutropenia. Severe neutropenia is a dangerously low number of neutrophils, white blood cells that help fight infections. Severe neutropenia can be life-threatening.
There are two parts to the changes in the requirements for treating patients with clozapine. First, FDA clarified and enhanced the prescribing information for clozapine that explains how to monitor patients for neutropenia and manage clozapine treatment. Second, FDA approved a new, shared risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) called the Clozapine REMS Program. The revised prescribing information and the Clozapine REMS Program will improve monitoring and management of patients with severe neutropenia. The shared REMS is also expected to reduce the burden and possible confusion related to having separate registries for individual clozapine medicines. The requirements to monitor, prescribe, dispense, and receive all clozapine medicines are now incorporated into the Clozapine REMS Program.
BACKGROUND: Clozapine is an antipsychotic medicine used to treat schizophrenia in patients whose symptoms are not controlled with standard antipsychotic treatment. It is also used to treat recurrent suicidal behavior in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.
RECOMMENDATION: Patients who are currently treated with clozapine will be automatically transferred to the Clozapine REMS Program. In order to prescribe and dispense clozapine, prescribers and pharmacies will be required to be certified in the Clozapine REMS Program according to a specific transition schedule starting October 12, 2015 (see Additional Information for Prescribers, Additional Information for Pharmacies, and Additional Information for Patients and Caregivers sections of the Drug Safety Communication for more details).
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