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indicationFor the acute treatment of the cutaneous manifestations of moderate to severe erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL). Also for use as maintenance therapy for prevention and suppression of the cutaneous manifestations of ENL recurrence.
pharmacologyThalidomide is an immunomodulatory agent with a spectrum of activity that is not fully characterized. Thalidomide is racemic — it contains both left and right handed isomers in equal amounts: one enantiomer is effective against morning sickness, and the other is teratogenic. The enantiomers are converted to each other in vivo. That is, if a human is given D-thalidomide or L-thalidomide, both isomers can be found in the serum. Hence, administering only one enantiomer will not prevent the teratogenic effect in humans.
mechanism of actionIn patients with erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL) the mechanism of action is not fully understood. Available data from in vitro studies and preliminary clinical trials suggest that the immunologic effects of this compound can vary substantially under different conditions, but may be related to suppression of excessive tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a) production and down-modulation of selected cell surface adhesion molecules involved in leukocyte migration. For example, administration of thalidomide has been reported to decrease circulating levels of TNF-a in patients with ENL, however, it has also been shown to increase plasma TNF-a levels in HIV-seropositive patients. As a cancer treatment, the drug may act as a VEGF inhibitor.
toxicityThe R-configuration and the S-configuration are more toxic individually than the racemic mixture. The LD50 could not be established in mice for racemic thalidomide, whereas LD50 values for the R and S configurations are reported to be 0.4 to 0.7 g/kg and 0.5 to 1.5 g/kg, respectively.
biotransformationThalidomide itself does not appear to be hepatically metabolized to any large extent, but appears to undergo non-enzymatic hydrolysis in plasma to multiple metabolites. Thalidomide may be metabolized hepatically by enzymes of the cytochrome P450 enzyme system. The end product of metabolism, phthalic acid, is excreted as a glycine conjugate.
absorptionThe absolute bioavailability has not yet been characterized in human subjects due to its poor aqueous solubility. In studies of both healthy volunteers and subjects with Hansen’s disease, the mean time to peak plasma concentrations (Tmax) ranged from 2.9 to 5.7 hours indicating that thalidomide is slowly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
half lifeThe mean half-life of elimination ranges from approximately 5 to 7 hours following a single dose and is not altered upon multiple dosing.
route of eliminationThalidomide itself has less than 0.7% of the dose excreted in the urine as unchanged drug.
drug interactionsAbatacept: Thalidomide may increase the adverse effects of Abatacept. Increased risk of serious infection. Concomitant therapy should be avoided.
Amikacin: Thalidomide increases the renal toxicity of the aminoglycoside
Anakinra: Thalidomide may increase the adverse effects of Anakinra. Increased risk of serious infection. Concomitant therapy should be avoided.
Dexamethasone: Increased risk of dermatologic adverse effects and venous thromboembolic events (VTE). Consider VTE prophylaxis during concomitant therapy and monitor for adverse dematologic effects.
Gentamicin: Thalidomide increases the renal toxicity of the aminoglycoside
Natalizumab: Thalidomide may increase the adverse effects of Natalizumab. Concurrent administration should be avoided due to increased risk of infection.
Netilmicin: Thalidomide increases the renal toxicity of the aminoglycoside
Tobramycin: Thalidomide increases the renal toxicity of the aminoglycoside
Trastuzumab: Trastuzumab may increase the risk of neutropenia and anemia. Monitor closely for signs and symptoms of adverse events.
Triprolidine: The CNS depressants, Triprolidine and Thalidomide, may increase adverse/toxic effects due to additivity. Monitor for increased CNS depressant effects during concomitant therapy.