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Norethindrone Acetate and Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets, USP and Ferrous Fumarate Tablets

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. DESCRIPTION 7. WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS
2. INDICATIONS AND USAGE 8. ADVERSE REACTIONS
3. DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION 9. OVERDOSAGE
4. CONTRAINDICATIONS 10. DRUG INTERACTIONS
5. MECHANISM OF ACTION 11. PHARMACOKINETICS
6. USE IN SPECIFIC POPULATIONS 12. HOW SUPPLIED/STORAGE AND HANDLING

 


Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects from oral contraceptive use. This risk increases with age and with heavy smoking (15 or more cigarettes per day) and is quite marked in women over 35 years of age. Women who use oral contraceptives should be strongly advised not to smoke.


Patients should be counseled that this product does not protect against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases.

1. DESCRIPTION

Norethindrone acetate, ethinyl estradiol, and ferrous fumarate is a combination oral contraceptive (COC).

The chemical name of norethindrone acetate is [19-Norpregn-4-en-20-yn-3-one, 17-(acetyloxy)-, (17α)-]. The empirical formula of norethindrone acetate is C22H28O3 and the structural formula is:

The chemical name of ethinyl estradiol is [19-Norpregna-1,3,5(10)-trien-20-yne-3,17-diol, (17α)-]. The empirical formula of ethinyl estradiol is C20H24O2 and the structural formula is:

The ferrous fumarate tablets are present to facilitate ease of drug administration and are non-hormonal, and do not serve any therapeutic purpose.

ESTROSTEP® Fe is a graduated estrophasic oral contraceptive providing estrogen in a graduated sequence over a 21-day period with a constant dose of progestogen. ESTROSTEP Fe provides for a continuous dosage regimen consisting of 21 oral contraceptive tablets and seven ferrous fumarate tablets as follow:

• 5 white triangle-shaped tablets, each contains 1 mg norethindrone acetate and 20 mcg ethinyl estradiol;

• 7 white square-shaped tablets, each contains 1 mg norethindrone acetate and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol; and

• 9 white round tablets, each contains 1 mg norethindrone acetate and 35 mcg ethinyl estradiol. Each tablet also contains calcium stearate; lactose; microcrystalline cellulose; and starch.

• 7 brown tablets, each contains microcrystalline cellulose; ferrous fumarate; magnesium stearate; povidone; sodium starch glycolate; sucrose with modified dextrins.

These tablets are to be taken in the following order: one triangular tablet each day for five days, then one square tablet each day for seven days, followed by one round tablet each day for nine days, and then one brown tablet each day for seven days.

LO LOESTRIN FE® provides an oral contraceptive regimen consisting of 24 blue active tablets and 2 white active tablets that contain the active ingredients specified for each tablet below, followed by 2 non-hormonal placebo tablets:

• 24 blue, round tablets each containing 1 mg norethindrone acetate and 10 mcg ethinyl estradiol

• 2 white, hexagonal tablets each containing 10 mcg ethinyl estradiol

• 2 brown, round tablets each containing 75 mg ferrous fumarate

Each blue tablet also contains the inactive ingredients mannitol, microcrystalline cellulose, FD&C Blue No. 1 Aluminum Lake, sodium starch glycolate, magnesium stearate, povidone, vitamin E and lactose monohydrate.

Each white tablet also contains the inactive ingredients mannitol, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium starch glycolate, magnesium stearate, povidone, vitamin E and lactose monohydrate.

Each brown tablet contains ferrous fumarate, mannitol, povidone, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium starch glycolate, magnesium stearate, sucralose and spearmint flavor. The ferrous fumarate tablets do not serve any therapeutic purpose. Ferrous fumarate tablets are not USP for dissolution and assay.

2. INDICATIONS AND USAGE

Norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate is indicated for the prevention of pregnancy in women who elect to use oral contraceptives as a method of contraception.

Norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate is indicated for the treatment of moderate acne vulgaris in females, ≥15 years of age, who have no known contraindications to oral contraceptive therapy, desire oral contraception, have achieved menarche, and are unresponsive to topical anti-acne medications. Norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate should be used for the treatment of acne only if the patient desires an oral contraceptive for birth control and plans to stay on it for at least 6 months.

3. DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION

3.1 How to Take Norethindrone Acetate/Ethinyl Estradiol/Ferrous Fumarate

To achieve maximum contraceptive effectiveness, norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate must be taken exactly as directed. Take one tablet by mouth at the same time every day. Tablets must be taken in the order directed on the blister pack. Tablets should not be skipped or taken at intervals exceeding 24 hours. For patient instructions for missed pills, see FDA-Approved Patient Labeling. Norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate tablets may be administered without regard to meals.

3.2 How to Start Norethindrone Acetate/Ethinyl Estradiol/Ferrous Fumarate

3.2.1 ESTROSTEP® Fe

The tablet dispenser has been designed to make oral contraceptive dosing as easy and as convenient as possible. The tablets are arranged in four rows of seven tablets each, with the days of the week appearing on the tablet dispenser above the first row of tablets.

Note: Each tablet dispenser has been preprinted with the days of the week, starting with Sunday, to facilitate a Sunday-Start regimen. Six different day label strips have been provided with the Detailed Patient & Brief Summary Patient Package Insert in order to accommodate a Day-1 Start regimen. If the patient is using the Day-1 Start regimen, she should place the self-adhesive day label strip that corresponds to her starting day over the preprinted days.

Important: The patient should be instructed to use an additional method of protection until after the first week of administration in the initial cycle when utilizing the Sunday-Start regimen.

The possibility of ovulation and conception prior to initiation of use should be considered.

Dosage and Administration for 28-Day Dosage Regimen

To achieve maximum contraceptive effectiveness, norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate should be taken exactly as directed and at intervals not exceeding 24 hours.

Norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate provides a continuous administration regimen consisting of 21 white oral contraceptive tablets and seven brown non-hormone containing tablets of ferrous fumarate. The ferrous fumarate tablets are present to facilitate ease of drug administration via a 28-day regimen and do not serve any therapeutic purpose. There is no need for the patient to count days between cycles because there are no “off-tablet days”.

A. Sunday-Start Regimen: The patient begins taking the first white tablet from the top row of the dispenser (labeled Sunday) on the first Sunday after menstrual flow begins. When menstrual flow begins on Sunday, the first white tablet is taken on the same day. The patient takes one white tablet daily for 21 days. The last white tablet in the dispenser will be taken on a Saturday. Upon completion of all 21 white tablets, and without interruption, the patient takes one brown tablet daily for 7 days. Upon completion of this first course of tablets, the patient begins a second course of 28-day tablets, without interruption, the next day (Sunday), starting with the Sunday white tablet in the top row. Adhering to this regimen of one white tablet daily for 21 days, followed without interruption by one brown tablet daily for 7 days, the patient will start all subsequent cycles on a Sunday.

B. Day-1 Start Regimen: The first day of menstrual flow is Day 1. The patient places the self-adhesive day label strip that corresponds to her starting day over the preprinted days on the tablet dispenser. She starts taking one white tablet daily, beginning with the first white tablet in the top row. After the last white tablet (at the end of the third row) has been taken, the patient will then take the brown tablets for a week (7 days). For all subsequent cycles, the patient begins a new 28 tablet regimen on the eighth day after taking her last white tablet, again starting with the first tablet in the top row after placing the appropriate day label strip over the preprinted days on the tablet dispenser. Following this regimen of 21 white tablets and 7 brown tablets, the patient will start all subsequent cycles on the same day of the week as the first course.

Tablets should be taken regularly at the same time each day and can be taken without regard to meals. It should be stressed that efficacy of medication depends on strict adherence to the dosage schedule.

Special Notes on Administration

Menstruation usually begins two or three days, but may begin as late as the fourth or fifth day, after the brown tablets have been started. In any event, the next course of tablets should be started without interruption. If spotting occurs while the patient is taking white tablets, continue medication without interruption.

If the patient forgets to take one or more white tablets, the following is suggested:

One tablet is missed

  1. • take tablet as soon as remembered
  2. • take next tablet at the regular time

Two consecutive tablets are missed (Week 1 or Week 2)

  1. • take two tablets as soon as remembered
  2. • take two tablets the next day
  3. • use another birth control method for seven days following the missed tablets

Two consecutive tablets are missed (Week 3)

Sunday-Start Regimen:

  1. • take one tablet daily until Sunday
  2. • discard remaining tablets
  3. • start new pack of tablets immediately (Sunday)
  4. • use another birth control method for seven days following the missed tablets

Day-1 Start Regimen:

  1. • discard remaining tablets
  2. • start new pack of tablets that same day
  3. • use another birth control method for seven days following the missed tablets

Three (or more) consecutive tablets are missed

Sunday-Start Regimen:

  1. • take one tablet daily until Sunday
  2. • discard remaining tablets
  3. • start new pack of tablets immediately (Sunday)
  4. • use another birth control method for seven days following the missed tablets

Day-1 Start Regimen:

  1. • discard remaining tablets
  2. • start new pack of tablets that same day
  3. • use another birth control method for seven days following the missed tablets

The possibility of ovulation occurring increases with each successive day that scheduled white tablets are missed. While there is little likelihood of ovulation occurring if only one white tablet is missed, the possibility of spotting or bleeding is increased. This is particularly likely to occur if two or more consecutive white tablets are missed.

If the patient forgets to take any of the seven brown tablets in week four, those brown tablets that were missed are discarded and one brown tablet is taken each day until the pack is empty. A back-up birth control method is not required during this time. A new pack of tablets should be started no later than the eighth day after the last white tablet was taken.

In the rare case of bleeding which resembles menstruation, the patient should be advised to discontinue medication and then begin taking tablets from a new tablet dispenser on the next Sunday or the first day (Day 1) depending on her regimen. Persistent bleeding which is not controlled by this method indicates the need for reexamination of the patient, at which time nonfunctional causes should be considered.

Use of Oral Contraceptives in the Event of a Missed Menstrual Period

1. If the patient has not adhered to the prescribed dosage regimen, the possibility of pregnancy should be considered after the first missed period and oral contraceptives should be withheld until pregnancy has been ruled out.

2. If the patient has adhered to the prescribed regimen and misses two consecutive periods, pregnancy should be ruled out before continuing the contraceptive regimen.

After several months on treatment, bleeding may be reduced to a point of virtual absence. This reduced flow may occur as a result of medication, in which event it is not indicative of pregnancy.

Acne

The timing of initiation of dosing with norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate for acne should follow the guidelines for use of norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate as an oral contraceptive.

3.2.2 LO LOESTRIN FE®

Instruct the patient to begin taking Lo Loestrin Fe on Day 1 of her menstrual cycle (that is, the first day of her menstrual bleeding) [see FDA-Approved Patient Labeling]. One blue tablet should be taken daily for 24 consecutive days, followed by one white tablet daily for 2 consecutive days, followed by one brown tablet daily for 2 consecutive days. Instruct the patient to use a non-hormonal contraceptive as back-up during the first 7 days if she starts taking Lo Loestrin Fe other than on the first day of her menstrual cycle.

For postpartum women who do not breastfeed or after a second trimester abortion, Lo Loestrin Fe may be started no earlier than 4 weeks postpartum. Recommend use of a nonhormonal back-up method for the first 7 days. When COCs are used during the postpartum period, the increased risk of thromboembolic disease associated with the postpartum period must be considered [see Warnings and Precautions]. The possibility of ovulation and conception before starting COCs should also be considered.

Lo Loestrin Fe may be initiated immediately after a first-trimester abortion or miscarriage; if the patient starts Lo Loestrin Fe immediately, additional contraceptive measures are not needed.

3.3 Switching from another Hormonal Method of Contraception

If the patient is switching from a combination hormonal method such as:

• Another pill

• Vaginal ring

• Patch

• Instruct her to take the first blue tablet on the day she would have taken her next COC pill. She should not continue taking the tablets from her previous birth control pack, and should not skip any days between packs. If she does not have a withdrawal bleed, rule out pregnancy before starting norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate.

• If she previously used a vaginal ring or transdermal patch, she should start using norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate on the day she would have resumed the previous product.

If the patient is switching from a progestin-only method such as a:

• Progestin-only pill

• Implant

• Intrauterine system

• Injection

• Instruct her to take the first blue tablet on the day she would have taken her next progestin-only pill, or had her next injection or on the day of removal of her implant.

• If switching from an IUD, depending on the timing of removal, back-up contraception may be needed.

3.4 Advice in Case of Gastrointestinal Disturbances

If the patient vomits or has diarrhea (within 3 to 4 hours after she takes a blue or white pill), she should follow the instructions in the “What to Do if You Miss Pills” section [see FDA-Approved Patient Labeling].

4. CONTRAINDICATIONS

Do not prescribe norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate to women who are known to have the following conditions:

• A high risk of arterial or venous thrombotic diseases. Examples include women who are known to:

• Smoke, if over age 35 [see Boxed Warning and Warnings and Precautions]

• Have deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, now or in the past [see Warnings and Precautions]

• Have cerebrovascular disease [see Warnings and Precautions]

• Have coronary artery disease [see Warnings and Precautions]

• Have thrombogenic valvular or thrombogenic rhythm diseases of the heart (for example, subacute bacterial endocarditis with valvular disease, or atrial fibrillation) [see Warnings and Precautions]

• Have inherited or acquired hypercoagulopathies [see Warnings and Precautions]

• Have uncontrolled hypertension [see Warnings and Precautions]

• Have diabetes mellitus with vascular disease [see Warnings and Precautions]

• Have headaches with focal neurological symptoms or have migraine headaches with or without aura if over age 35 [see Warnings and Precautions]

• Breast cancer or other estrogen- or progestin-sensitive cancer, now or in the past [see Warnings and Precautions]

• Liver tumors, benign or malignant, or liver disease [see Warnings and Precautions]

• Undiagnosed abnormal uterine bleeding [see Warnings and Precautions]

• Pregnancy, because there is no reason to use COCs during pregnancy [see Warnings and Precautions and Use in Specific Populations]

5. MECHANISM OF ACTION

ORAL CONTRACEPTION

Combination oral contraceptives act by suppression of gonadotropins. Although the primary mechanism of this action is inhibition of ovulation, other alterations include changes in the cervical mucus (which increase the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus) and the endometrium (which reduce the likelihood of implantation).

ACNE

Acne is a skin condition with a multifactorial etiology, including androgen stimulation of sebum production. While the combination of norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol increases sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and decreases free testosterone, the relationship between these changes and a decrease in the severity of facial acne in otherwise healthy women with this skin condition has not been established.

6. USE IN SPECIFIC POPULATIONS

6.1 Usage in Pregnancy

There is little or no increased risk of birth defects in women who inadvertently use COCs during early pregnancy. Epidemiologic studies and meta-analyses have not found an increased risk of genital or non-genital birth defects (including cardiac anomalies and limb reduction defects) following exposure to low dose COCs prior to conception or during early pregnancy.

The administration of COCs to induce withdrawal bleeding should not be used as a test for pregnancy. COCs should not be used during pregnancy to treat threatened or habitual abortion.

Women who do not breastfeed should not start COCs earlier than 4 weeks postpartum.

6.2 Nursing Mothers

When possible, advise the nursing mother to use other forms of contraception until she has weaned her child. Estrogen-containing OCs can reduce milk production in breastfeeding mothers. This is less likely to occur once breastfeeding is well-established; however, it can occur at any time in some women. Small amounts of oral contraceptive steroids and/or metabolites are present in breast milk.

6.3 Pediatric Use

Safety and efficacy of norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate have been established in women of reproductive age. Safety and efficacy are expected to be the same for postpubertal adolescents under the age of 16 and for users 16 years and older. Use of this product before menarche is not indicated.

6.4 Geriatric Use

This product has not been studied in women over 65 years of age and is not indicated in this population.

7. WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS

WARNINGS

See Boxed WARNINGS.

The use of oral contraceptives is associated with increased risks of several serious conditions including myocardial infarction, thromboembolism, stroke, hepatic neoplasia, and gallbladder disease, although the risk of serious morbidity or mortality is very small in healthy women without underlying risk factors. The risk of morbidity and mortality increases significantly in the presence of other underlying risk factors such as hypertension, hyperlipidemias, obesity, and diabetes.

Practitioners prescribing oral contraceptives should be familiar with the following information relating to these risks.

The information contained in this package insert is principally based on studies carried out in patients who used oral contraceptives with higher formulations of estrogens and progestogens than those in common use today. The effect of long-term use of the oral contraceptives with lower formulations of both estrogens and progestogens remains to be determined.

1. Thromboembolic Disorders and Other Vascular Problems

a. Myocardial infarction

An increased risk of myocardial infarction has been attributed to oral contraceptive use. This risk is primarily in smokers or women with other underlying risk factors for coronary artery disease such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, morbid obesity, and diabetes. The relative risk of heart attack for current oral contraceptive users has been estimated to be two to six. The risk is very low under the age of 30.

Smoking in combination with oral contraceptive use has been shown to contribute substantially to the incidence of myocardial infarctions in women in their mid-thirties or older with smoking accounting for the majority of excess cases. Mortality rates associated with circulatory disease have been shown to increase substantially in smokers over the age of 35 and non-smokers over the age of 40 among women who use oral contraceptives.

Oral contraceptives may compound the effects of well-known risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemias, age and obesity. In particular, some progestogens are known to decrease HDL cholesterol and cause glucose intolerance, while estrogens may create a state of hyperinsulinism. Oral contraceptives have been shown to increase blood pressure among users (see Section 9 in WARNINGS). Similar effects on risk factors have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Oral contraceptives must be used with caution in women with cardiovascular disease risk factors.

b. Thromboembolism

An increased risk of thromboembolic and thrombotic disease associated with the use of oral contraceptives is well established. Case control studies have found the relative risk of users compared to nonusers to be 3 for the first episode of superficial venous thrombosis, 4 to 11 for deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, and 1.5 to 6 for women with predisposing conditions for venous thromboembolic disease. Cohort studies have shown the relative risk to be somewhat lower, about 3 for new cases and about 4.5 for new cases requiring hospitalization. The risk of thromboembolic disease due to oral contraceptives is not related to length of use and disappears after pill use is stopped.

A two- to four-fold increase in relative risk of postoperative thromboembolic complications has been reported with the use of oral contraceptives. The relative risk of venous thrombosis in women who have predisposing conditions is twice that of women without such medical conditions. If feasible, oral contraceptives should be discontinued at least 4 weeks prior to and for 2 weeks after elective surgery of a type associated with an increase in risk of thromboembolism and during and following prolonged immobilization. Since the immediate postpartum period is also associated with an increased risk of thromboembolism, oral contraceptives should be started no earlier than 4 to 6 weeks after delivery in women who elect not to breastfeed.

c. Cerebrovascular disease

Oral contraceptives have been shown to increase both the relative and attributable risks of cerebrovascular events (thrombotic and hemorrhagic strokes), although, in general, the risk is greatest among older (>35 years), hypertensive women who also smoke. Hypertension was found to be a risk factor for both users and nonusers, for both types of strokes, while smoking interacted to increase the risk for hemorrhagic strokes.

d. Dose-related risk of vascular disease from oral contraceptives

A positive association has been observed between the amount of estrogen and progestogen in oral contraceptives and the risk of vascular disease. A decline in serum high-density lipoproteins (HDL) has been reported with many progestational agents. A decline in serum high-density lipoproteins has been associated with an increased incidence of ischemic heart disease. Because estrogens increase HDL cholesterol, the net effect of an oral contraceptive depends on a balance achieved between doses of estrogen and progestin and the nature of the progestin used in the contraceptives. The amount and activity of both hormones should be considered in the choice of an oral contraceptive.

Minimizing exposure to estrogen and progestogen is in keeping with good principles of therapeutics. For any particular oral contraceptive, the dosage regimen prescribed should be one which contains the least amount of estrogen and progestogen that is compatible with the needs of the individual patient. New acceptors of oral contraceptive agents should be started on preparations containing the lowest dose of estrogen which produces satisfactory results for the patient.

e. Persistence of risk of vascular disease

There are two studies which have shown persistence of risk of vascular disease for ever-users of oral contraceptives. In a study in the United States, the risk of developing myocardial infarction after discontinuing oral contraceptives persists for at least 9 years for women 40-49 years who had used oral contraceptives for 5 or more years, but this increased risk was not demonstrated in other age groups. In another study in Great Britain, the risk of developing cerebrovascular disease persisted for at least 6 years after discontinuation of oral contraceptives, although excess risk was very small. However, both studies were performed with oral contraceptive formulations containing 50 mcg or higher of estrogens.

2. Estimates of Mortality from Contraceptive Use

One study gathered data from a variety of sources which have estimated the mortality rate associated with different methods of contraception at different ages. These estimates include the combined risk of death associated with contraceptive methods plus the risk attributable to pregnancy in the event of method failure. Each method of contraception has its specific benefits and risks. The study concluded that with the exception of oral contraceptive users 35 and older who smoke and 40 and older who do not smoke, mortality associated with all methods of birth control is low and below that associated with childbirth. The observation of a possible increase in risk of mortality with age for oral contraceptive users is based on data gathered in the 1970’s but not reported until 1983. However, current clinical practice involves the use of lower estrogen dose formulations combined with careful restriction of oral contraceptive use to women who do not have the various risk factors listed in this labeling.

The Fertility and Maternal Health Drugs Advisory Committee was asked to review the topic in 1989. The Committee concluded that although cardiovascular disease risks may be increased with oral contraceptive use after age 40 in healthy nonsmoking women (even with the newer low-dose formulations), there are greater potential health risks associated with pregnancy in older women and with the alternative surgical and medical procedures which may be necessary if such women do not have access to effective and acceptable means of contraception.

Therefore, the Committee recommended that the benefits of oral contraceptive use by healthy non-smoking women over 40 may outweigh the possible risks. Of course, older women, as all women who take oral contraceptives, should take the lowest possible dose formulation that is effective.

3. Carcinoma of the Reproductive Organs and Breasts

Epidemiologic studies have been conducted examining the relationship between combination oral contraceptives and breast cancer. Norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate was not included in these studies, and the majority of the combination oral contraceptives used by women in these studies have higher doses of estrogen than norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate. These studies suggest that the risk of having breast cancer diagnosed may be slightly increased among current and recent users of combination oral contraceptives; however, these studies do not provide evidence for causation. The observed pattern of increased risk of breast cancer diagnosis may be due to earlier detection of breast cancer in combination oral contraceptive users, the biological effects of combination oral contraceptives, or a combination of reasons. The risk appears to decrease over time after combination oral contraceptive discontinuation, and by 10 years after cessation of combination oral contraceptive use, the additional risk disappears. The risk does not appear to increase with duration of use and no consistent relationships have been found with age at first use or doses studied or type of steroid. Most studies show a similar pattern of risk with combination oral contraceptive use regardless of a woman’s reproductive history or her family breast cancer history. Breast cancers diagnosed in current or previous combination oral contraceptive users tend to be less clinically advanced than in nonusers.

Women who currently have or have had breast cancer should not use oral contraceptives because breast cancer is a hormonally-sensitive tumor.

4. Hepatic Neoplasia

Benign hepatic adenomas are associated with oral contraceptive use, although the incidence of benign tumors is rare in the United States. Indirect calculations have estimated the attributable risk to be in the range of 3.3 cases/100,000 for users, a risk that increases after 4 or more years of use. Rupture of rare, benign, hepatic adenomas may cause death through intra-abdominal hemorrhage.

5. Ocular Lesions

There have been clinical case reports of retinal thrombosis associated with the use of oral contraceptives. Oral contraceptives should be discontinued if there is unexplained partial or complete loss of vision; onset of proptosis or diplopia; papilledema; or retinal vascular lesions. Appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic measures should be undertaken immediately.

6. Oral Contraceptive Use Before and During Early Pregnancy

Extensive epidemiological studies have revealed no increased risk of birth defects in women who have used oral contraceptives prior to pregnancy. Studies also do not suggest a teratogenic effect, particularly insofar as cardiac anomalies and limb reduction defects are concerned, when taken inadvertently during early pregnancy.

The administration of oral contraceptives to induce withdrawal bleeding should not be used as a test for pregnancy. Oral contraceptives should not be used during pregnancy to treat threatened or habitual abortion.

It is recommended that for any patient who has missed two consecutive periods, pregnancy should be ruled out before continuing oral contraceptive use. If the patient has not adhered to the prescribed schedule, the possibility of pregnancy should be considered at the time of the first missed period. Oral contraceptive use should be discontinued if pregnancy is confirmed.

7. Gallbladder Disease

Earlier studies have reported an increased lifetime relative risk of gallbladder surgery in users of oral contraceptives and estrogens. More recent studies, however, have shown that the relative risk of developing gallbladder disease among oral contraceptive users may be minimal. The recent findings of minimal risk may be related to the use of oral contraceptive formulations containing lower hormonal doses of estrogens and progestogens.

8. Carbohydrate and Lipid Metabolic Effects

Oral contraceptives have been shown to cause glucose intolerance in a significant percentage of users. Oral contraceptives containing greater than 75 mcg of estrogens cause hyperinsulinism, while lower doses of estrogen cause less glucose intolerance. Progestogens increase insulin secretion and create insulin resistance, this effect varying with different progestational agents. However, in the non-diabetic woman, oral contraceptives appear to have no effect on fasting blood glucose. Because of these demonstrated effects, prediabetic and diabetic women should be carefully observed while taking oral contraceptives.

9. Elevated Blood Pressure

An increase in blood pressure has been reported in women taking oral contraceptives and this increase is more likely in older oral contraceptive users and with continued use. Data from the Royal College of General Practitioners and subsequent randomized trials have shown that the incidence of hypertension increases with increasing concentrations of progestogens.

10. Headache

The onset or exacerbation of migraine or development of headache with a new pattern which is recurrent, persistent, or severe requires discontinuation of oral contraceptives and evaluation of the cause.

11. Bleeding Irregularities

Breakthrough bleeding and spotting are sometimes encountered in patients on oral contraceptives, especially during the first three months of use. Non-hormonal causes should be considered, and adequate diagnostic measures taken to rule out malignancy or pregnancy in the event of prolonged breakthrough bleeding, as in the case of any abnormal vaginal bleeding. If pathology has been excluded, time or a change to another formulation may solve the problem. In the event of amenorrhea, pregnancy should be ruled out.

PRECAUTIONS

1. Patients should be counseled that this product does not protect against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases.

2. Physical Examination and Follow-Up

It is good medical practice for all women to have annual history and physical examinations, including women using oral contraceptives. The physical examination, however, may be deferred until after initiation of oral contraceptives if requested by the woman and judged appropriate by the clinician. The physical examination should include special reference to blood pressure, breasts, abdomen and pelvic organs, including cervical cytology, and relevant laboratory tests. In case of undiagnosed, persistent or recurrent abnormal vaginal bleeding, appropriate measures should be conducted to rule out malignancy. Women with a strong family history of breast cancer or who have breast nodules should be monitored with particular care.

3. Lipid Disorders

Women who are being treated for hyperlipidemia should be followed closely if they elect to use oral contraceptives. Some progestogens may elevate LDL levels and may render the control of hyperlipidemias more difficult.

4. Liver Function

If jaundice develops in any woman receiving such drugs, the medication should be discontinued. Steroid hormones may be poorly metabolized in patients with impaired liver function.

5. Fluid Retention

Oral contraceptives may cause some degree of fluid retention. They should be prescribed with caution, and only with careful monitoring, in patients with conditions which might be aggravated by fluid retention.

6. Emotional Disorders

Women with a history of depression should be carefully observed and the drug discontinued if depression recurs to a serious degree.

7. Contact Lenses

Contact lens wearers who develop visual changes or changes in lens tolerance should be assessed by an ophthalmologist.

8. ADVERSE REACTIONS

The use of oral contraceptives is associated with increased risks of several serious conditions including myocardial infarction, thromboembolism, stroke, hepatic neoplasia, and gallbladder disease, although the risk of serious morbidity or mortality is very small in healthy women without underlying risk factors. The risk of morbidity and mortality increases significantly in the presence of other underlying risk factors such as hypertension, hyperlipidemias, obesity, and diabetes.

The following adverse reactions have been reported in patients receiving oral contraceptives and are believed to be drug-related:

9. OVERDOSAGE

Serious ill effects have not been reported following acute ingestion of large doses of oral contraceptives by young children. Overdosage may cause nausea, and withdrawal bleeding may occur in females.

10. NON-CONTRACEPTIVE HEALTH BENEFITS

The following non-contraceptive health benefits related to the use of oral contraceptives are supported by epidemiological studies which largely utilized oral contraceptive formulations containing estrogen doses exceeding 0.035 mg of ethinyl estradiol or 0.05 mg of mestranol.

Effects on menses:

  1. Increased menstrual cycle regularity
  2. Decreased blood loss and decreased incidence of iron deficiency anemia
  3. Decreased incidence of dysmenorrhea

Effects related to inhibition of ovulation:

  1. Decreased incidence of functional ovarian cysts
  2. Decreased incidence of ectopic pregnancies

Effects from long-term use:

11. DRUG INTERACTIONS

Effects of Other Drugs on Oral Contraceptives

Rifampin: Metabolism of both norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol is increased by rifampin. A reduction in contraceptive effectiveness and increased incidence of breakthrough bleeding and menstrual irregularities have been associated with concomitant use of rifampin.

Anticonvulsants: Anticonvulsants such as phenobarbital, phenytoin, and carbamazepine, have been shown to increase the metabolism of ethinyl estradiol and/or norethindrone, which could result in a reduction in contraceptive effectiveness.

Antibiotics: Pregnancy while taking oral contraceptives has been reported when the oral contraceptives were administered with antimicrobials such as ampicillin, tetracycline, and griseofulvin. However, clinical pharmacokinetic studies have not demonstrated any consistent effect of antibiotics (other than rifampin) on plasma concentrations of synthetic steroids.

Atorvastatin: Coadministration of atorvastatin and an oral contraceptive increased AUC values for norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol by approximately 30% and 20%, respectively.

St. John’s Wort: Herbal products containing St. John’s Wort (hypericum perforatum) may induce hepatic enzymes (cytochrome P450) and p-glycoprotein transporter and may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. This may also result in breakthrough bleeding.

Other: Ascorbic acid and acetaminophen may increase plasma ethinyl estradiol concentrations, possibly by inhibition of conjugation. A reduction in contraceptive effectiveness and increased incidence of breakthrough bleeding has been suggested with phenylbutazone.

Effects of Oral Contraceptives on Other Drugs

Oral contraceptive combinations containing ethinyl estradiol may inhibit the metabolism of other compounds. Increased plasma concentrations of cyclosporine, prednisolone, and theophylline have been reported with concomitant administration of oral contraceptives. In addition, oral contraceptives may induce the conjugation of other compounds. Decreased plasma concentrations of acetaminophen and increased clearance of temazepam, salicylic acid, morphine, and clofibric acid have been noted when these drugs were administered with oral contraceptives.

Interactions with Laboratory Tests

Certain endocrine and liver function tests and blood components may be affected by oral contraceptives:

a. Increased prothrombin and factors VII, VIII, IX, and X; decreased antithrombin 3; increased norepinephrine-induced platelet aggregability.

b. Increased thyroid binding globulin (TBG) leading to increased circulating total thyroid hormone, as measured by protein-bound iodine (PBI), T4 by column or by radioimmunoassay. Free T3 resin uptake is decreased, reflecting the elevated TBG; free T4 concentration is unaltered.

c. Other binding proteins may be elevated in serum.

d. Sex-binding globulins are increased and result in elevated levels of total circulating sex steroids and corticoids; however, free or biologically active levels remain unchanged.

e. Triglycerides may be increased.

f. Glucose tolerance may be decreased.

g. Serum folate levels may be depressed by oral contraceptive therapy. This may be of clinical significance if a woman becomes pregnant shortly after discontinuing oral contraceptives.

12. PHARMACOKINETICS

Absorption

Norethindrone acetate appears to be completely and rapidly deacetylated to norethindrone after oral administration, since the disposition of norethindrone acetate is indistinguishable from that of orally administered norethindrone. Norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol are rapidly absorbed, with maximum plasma concentrations of norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol occurring 1 to 2 hours post-dose. Both are subject to first-pass metabolism after oral dosing, resulting in an absolute bioavailability of approximately 64% for norethindrone and 43% for ethinyl estradiol.

Administration of norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol with a high fat meal decreases rate, but not extent, of ethinyl estradiol absorption. The extent of norethindrone absorption is increased by 27% following administration with food.

Distribution

Volume of distribution of norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol ranges from 2 to 4 L/kg. Plasma protein binding of both steroids is extensive (>95%); norethindrone binds to both albumin and sex hormone binding globulin, whereas ethinyl estradiol binds only to albumin. Although ethinyl estradiol does not bind to SHBG, it induces SHBG synthesis. Norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate increases serum SHBG concentrations two- to three-fold.

Metabolism

Norethindrone undergoes extensive biotransformation, primarily via reduction, followed by sulfate and glucuronide conjugation. The majority of metabolites in the circulation are sulfates, with glucuronides accounting for most of the urinary metabolites. A small amount of norethindrone acetate is metabolically converted to ethinyl estradiol. Ethinyl estradiol is also extensively metabolized, both by oxidation and by conjugation with sulfate and glucuronide. Sulfates are the major circulating conjugates of ethinyl estradiol and glucuronides predominate in urine. The primary oxidative metabolite is 2-hydroxy ethinyl estradiol, formed by the CYP3A4 isoform of cytochrome P450. Part of the first-pass metabolism of ethinyl estradiol is believed to occur in gastrointestinal mucosa. Ethinyl estradiol may undergo enterohepatic circulation.

Excretion

Norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol are excreted in both urine and feces, primarily as metabolites. Plasma clearance values for norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol are similar (approximately 0.4 L/hr/kg). Steady-state elimination half-lives of norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol following administration of norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate are approximately 13 hours and 19 hours, respectively.

Special Population

Race: The effect of race on the disposition of norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate has not been evaluated.

Renal Insufficiency: The effect of renal disease on the disposition of norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate has not been evaluated. In premenopausal women with chronic renal failure undergoing peritoneal dialysis who received multiple doses of an oral contraceptive containing ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone, plasma ethinyl estradiol concentrations were higher and norethindrone concentrations were unchanged compared to concentrations in premenopausal women with normal renal function.

Hepatic Insufficiency: The effect of hepatic disease on the disposition of norethindrone acetate/ethinyl estradiol/ferrous fumarate has not been evaluated. However, ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone may be poorly metabolized in patients with impaired liver function.

13. HOW SUPPLIED/STORAGE AND HANDLING

1) How Available:

a) Brand names:

ESTROSTEP Fe, by WARNER CHILCOTT.

LO LOESTRIN FE, by WARNER CHILCOTT.

b) Generic drugs:

ESTROSTEP Fe equivalent drugs: NORETHINDRONE ACETATE; ETHINYL ESTRADIOL, by various manufacturers.

LO LOESTRIN FE equivalent drugs: None.

2) How Supplied:

ESTROSTEP® Fe is available in dispensers each containing 21 white tablets. The first five triangle tablets each contain 1 mg of norethindrone acetate and 20 mcg of ethinyl estradiol; the next seven square tablets each contain 1 mg of norethindrone acetate and 30 mcg of ethinyl estradiol; the next nine round tablets each contain 1 mg of norethindrone acetate and 35 mcg of ethinyl estradiol; and the last seven (brown) tablets each contain 75 mg ferrous fumarate. Available in packages of five dispensers.

NDC 0430-0570-14 Carton of 5 Tablet Dispensers.

LO LOESTRIN® Fe is available in cartons of five blister cards (dispensers) (NDC 0430-0420-14).

Each blister card (28 tablets) contains in the following order:

• 24 blue, round tablets (active) imprinted with "WC" on one side and "421" on the other and each containing 1 mg norethindrone and 10 mcg ethinyl estradiol

• 2 white, hexagonal tablets (active) imprinted with "WC" on one side and "422" on the other and each containing 10 mcg ethinyl estradiol

• 2 brown, round tablets (non-hormonal placebo) imprinted with "WC" on one side and "624" on the other and each containing 75 mg ferrous fumarate.

3) Storage: Do not store above 25° C (77° F). Protect from light. Store tablets inside pouch when not in use.

Rx only

Rev 10/10