Embryo-Fetal, Bone Marrow, Liver, Lung, and Kidney Toxicity Risk
- Methotrexate has been reported to cause fetal death and/or congenital anomalies. Therefore, it is not recommended for women of childbearing potential unless there is clear medical evidence that the benefits can be expected to outweigh the considered risks. Pregnant women with psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis should not receive methotrexate.
- Methotrexate should be used only by physicians whose knowledge and experience include the use of antimetabolite therapy. because of the possibility of serious toxic reactions (which can be fatal).
- Methotrexate should be used only in life threatening neoplastic diseases, or in patients with psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis with severe, recalcitrant, disabling disease which is not adequately responsive to other forms of therapy.
- Deaths have been reported with the use of methotrexate in the treatment of malignancy, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Patients should be closely monitored for bone marrow, liver, lung and kidney toxicities.
- Patients should be informed by their physician of the risks involved and be under a physician’s care throughout therapy.
- Potentially fatal opportunistic infections, especially Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, may occur with methotrexate therapy.
- Methotrexate given concomitantly with radiotherapy may increase the risk of soft tissue necrosis and osteonecrosis.
Preservative Containing Products
- Methotrexate formulations and diluents containing preservatives must not be used for intrathecal or high dose methotrexate therapy.
- Methotrexate has been reported to cause fetal death and/or congenital anomalies. Therefore, it is not recommended for women of childbearing potential unless there is clear medical evidence that the benefits can be expected to outweigh the considered risks. Pregnant women with psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis should not receive methotrexate (See Contraindications).
Monitoring in Impaired Disease States
- Methotrexate elimination is reduced in patients with impaired renal function, ascites, or pleural effusions. Such patients require especially careful monitoring for toxicity, and require dose reduction or, in some cases, discontinuation of methotrexate administration.
Hematological, Gastrointestinal Toxicity
- Unexpectedly severe (sometimes fatal) bone marrow suppression, aplastic anemia, and gastrointestinal toxicity have been reported with concomitant administration of methotrexate (usually in high dosage) along with some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). (See Precautions, Drug Interactions)
- Diarrhea and ulcerative stomatitis require interruption of therapy; otherwise, hemorrhagic enteritis and death from intestinal perforation may occur.
- Methotrexate causes hepatotoxicity, fibrosis and cirrhosis, but generally only after prolonged use.
- Acutely, liver enzyme elevations are frequently seen. These are usually transient and asymptomatic, and also do not appear predictive of subsequent hepatic disease. Liver biopsy after sustained use often shows histologic changes, and fibrosis and cirrhosis have been reported; these latter lesions may not be preceded by symptoms or abnormal liver function tests in the psoriasis population. For this reason, periodic liver biopsies are usually recommended for psoriatic patients who are under long-term treatment. Persistent abnormalities in liver function tests may precede appearance of fibrosis or cirrhosis in the rheumatoid arthritis population. (See Precautions, Organ System Toxicitu, Hepatic)
- Methotrexate-induced lung disease, including acute or chronic interstitial pneumonitis, is a potentially dangerous lesion, which may occur acutely at any time during therapy and has been reported at low doses. It is not always fully reversible and fatalities have been reported. Pulmonary symptoms (especially a dry, nonproductive cough) may require interruption of treatment and careful investigation.
- Malignant lymphomas, which may regress following withdrawal of methotrexate, may occur in patients receiving low-dose methotrexate and, thus, may not require cytotoxic treatment. Discontinue methotrexate first and, if the lymphoma does not regress, appropriate treatment should be instituted.
- Like other cytotoxic drugs, methotrexate may induce “tumor lysis syndrome” in patients with rapidly growing tumors. Appropriate supportive and pharmacologic measures may prevent or alleviate this complication.
- Severe, occasionally fatal, skin reactions have been reported following single or multiple doses of methotrexate. Reactions have occurred within days of oral, intramuscular, intravenous, or intrathecal methotrexate administration. Recovery has been reported with discontinuation of therapy. (See Precautions, Organ System Toxicity, Skin)
- The use of methotrexate high dose regimens recommended for osteosarcoma requires meticulous care. (see dosage and administration) high dose regimens for other neoplastic diseases are investigational and a therapeutic advantage has not been established.
- Other serious adverse reactions, including death, have been reported with methotrexate. Closely monitor for infections and adverse reactions of the bone marrow, kidneys, liver, nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and skin. Withhold or discontinue Methotrexate Injection as appropriate
- Formulations with benzyl alcohol can cause severe central nervous toxicity or metabolic acidosis. Use only preservative-free Methotrexate Injection for treatment of neonates or low-birth weight infants and for intrathecal use. Do not use benzyl alcohol-containing formulations for high-dose regimens unless immediate treatment is required and preservative-free formulations are not available
- Methotrexate Injection is contraindicated in patients with a history of severe hypersensitivity reactions to methotrexate, including anaphylaxis
MONITORING RECOMMENDATIONS RELATED TO BLACK BOX DATA
- Perform periodic liver biopsies in psoriatic patients who are on chronic therapy.
- Persistent abnormalities in LFTs may precede appearance of fibrosis or cirrhosis in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
- Pulmonary symptoms (especially a nonproductive, dry cough), diarrhea, and ulcerative stomatitis may require interruption of treatment and careful monitoring.
- Diarrhea, and ulcerative stomatitis require interruption of treatment and careful monitoring.
- Patients should be informed by their physicians of the risks involved and be under a physician's care throughout therapy
- Black box data revised in February 2002 and January 2004
Patient Counseling Information
Updated April 2021