AZULFIDINE Tablets contain sulfasalazine, 500 mg, for oral administration.
Therapeutic Classification: Anti-inflammatory agent.
Chemical Designation: 5-([p-(2-pyridylsulfamoyl)phenyl]azo) salicylic acid.
Molecular Formula: C18H14N4O5S
Inactive ingredients: magnesium stearate, povidone, silica (colloidal anhydrous), starch (pregelatinized).
INDICATIONS AND USAGE
AZULFIDINE Tablets are indicated: a) in the treatment of mild to moderate ulcerative colitis, and as adjunctive therapy in severe ulcerative colitis; and b) for the prolongation of the remission period between acute attacks of ulcerative colitis.
AZULFIDINE Tablets are contraindicated in: Patients with intestinal or urinary obstruction, Patients with porphyria as sulfonamides have been reported to precipitate an acute attack, Patients hypersensitive to sulfasalazine, its metabolites, sulfonamides, or salicylates.
Hepatic, Renal, and Hematologic Toxicity or Other Conditions: Only after critical appraisal should AZULFIDINE Tablets be given to patients with hepatic or renal damage or blood dyscrasias. Deaths associated with the administration of sulfasalazine have been reported from hypersensitivity reactions, agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia, other blood dyscrasias, renal and liver damage, irreversible neuromuscular and central nervous system changes, and fibrosing alveolitis. The presence of clinical signs such as sore throat, fever, pallor, purpura, or jaundice may be indications of serious blood disorders or hepatotoxicity. Complete blood counts, as well as urinalysis with careful microscopic examination, should be done frequently in patients receiving AZULFIDINE. Discontinue treatment with sulfasalazine while awaiting the results of blood tests.
Oligospermia and Infertility: Oligospermia and infertility have been observed in men treated with sulfasalazine; however, withdrawal of the drug appears to reverse these effects.
Serious Infections: Serious infections, including fatal sepsis and pneumonia, have been reported. Some infections were associated with agranulocytosis, neutropenia, or myelosuppression. Discontinue AZULFIDINE if a patient develops a serious infection. Closely monitor patients for the development of signs and symptoms of infection during and after treatment with AZULFIDINE. For a patient who develops a new infection during treatment with AZULFIDINE, perform a prompt and complete diagnostic workup for infection and myelosuppression. Caution should be exercised when considering the use of sulfasalazine in patients with a history of recurring or chronic infections or with underlying conditions or concomitant drugs which may predispose patients to infections.
Hypersensitivity Reactions: Severe hypersensitivity reactions may include internal organ involvement, such as hepatitis, nephritis, myocarditis, mononucleosis-like syndrome (i.e., pseudomononucleosis), hematological abnormalities (including hematophagic histiocytosis), and/or pneumonitis including eosinophilic infiltration.
Drug Reactions with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS): Severe, life-threatening, systemic hypersensitivity reactions such as drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS) have been reported in patients taking sulfasalazine. Early manifestations of hypersensitivity, such as fever or lymphadenopathy, may be present even though rash is not evident. If such signs or symptoms are present, evaluate the patient immediately. Discontinue AZULFIDINE if an alternative etiology for the signs or symptoms cannot be established.
AZULFIDINE Tablets should be given with caution to patients with severe allergy or bronchial asthma. Adequate fluid intake must be maintained in order to prevent crystalluria and stone formation. Patients with glucose-6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency should be observed closely for signs of hemolytic anemia. This reaction is frequently dose related. If toxic or hypersensitivity reactions occur, the drug should be discontinued immediately.
Laboratory Tests: Complete blood counts, including differential white cell count, and liver function tests, should be performed before starting AZULFIDINE and every second week during the first three months of therapy. During the second three months, the same tests should be done once monthly and thereafter once every three months, and as clinically indicated. Urinalysis and an assessment of renal function should also be done periodically during treatment with AZULFIDINE.
The determination of serum sulfapyridine levels may be useful since concentrations greater than 50 μg/mL appear to be associated with an increased incidence of adverse reactions.
Reduced absorption of folic acid and digoxin have been reported when those agents were administered concomitantly with sulfasalazine.
Drug/Laboratory Test Interactions
Several reports of possible interference with measurements, by liquid chromatography, of urinary normetanephrine causing a false-positive test result have been observed in patients exposed to sulfasalazine or its metabolite, mesalamine/mesalazine.
Sulfasalazine or its metabolite, sulfapyridine, may interfere with ultraviolet absorbance, particularly at 340 nm, and may cause interference with some laboratory assays that use nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide [NAD(H)] or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate [NADP(H)] to measure ultraviolet absorbance around that wavelength. Examples of such assays may include alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), creatine kinase-muscle/brain (CK-MB), ammonia, thyroxine or glucose. Erroneous laboratory results may be observed in patients receiving higher than recommended dosages of sulfasalazine.
Use in specific populations
Pregnancy: There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of sulfasalazine in pregnant women. Reproduction studies have been performed in rats and rabbits at doses up to 6 times the human maintenance dose of 2 g/day based on body surface area and have revealed no evidence of impaired female fertility or harm to the fetus due to sulfasalazine. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, this drug should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.
Sulfasalazine and its metabolite, sulfapyridine pass through the placenta. Sulfasalazine and its metabolite are also present in human milk. In the newborn, sulfonamides compete with bilirubin for binding sites on the plasma proteins and may cause kernicterus. Although sulfapyridine has been shown to have a poor bilirubin-displacing capacity, monitor the newborn for the potential for kernicterus.
A case of agranulocytosis has been reported in an infant whose mother was taking both sulfasalazine and prednisone throughout pregnancy.
Nursing Mothers: Sulfonamides, including sulfasalazine, are present in human milk (see Pregnancy, Clinical Considerations). Insignificant amounts of sulfasalazine have been found in milk, whereas levels of the active metabolite sulfapyridine in milk are about 30 to 60 percent of those in the maternal serum. Caution should be exercised when AZULFIDINE is administered to a nursing mother.
Pediatric Use: Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients below the age of 2 years have not been established.
The most common adverse reactions associated with sulfasalazine are anorexia, headache, nausea, vomiting, gastric distress, and apparently reversible oligospermia. These occur in about one-third of the patients. Less frequent adverse reactions are skin rash, pruritus, urticaria, fever, Heinz body anemia, hemolytic anemia, and cyanosis, which may occur at a frequency of one in every thirty patients or less. Experience suggests that with a daily dosage of 4 g or more, or total serum sulfapyridine levels above 50 μg/mL, the incidence of adverse reactions tends to increase.
There is evidence that the incidence and severity of toxicity following overdosage are directly related to the total serum sulfapyridine concentration. Symptoms of overdosage may include nausea, vomiting, gastric distress, and abdominal pains. In more advanced cases, central nervous system symptoms such as drowsiness, convulsions, etc., may be observed. Serum sulfapyridine concentrations may be used to monitor the progress of recovery from overdosage.
There are no documented reports of deaths due to ingestion of large single doses of sulfasalazine. Doses of Azulfidine tablets of 16 g per day have been given to patients without mortality. A single oral dose of 12 g/kg was not lethal to mice.
Instructions for Overdosage: Gastric lavage or emesis plus catharsis as indicated. Alkalinize urine. If kidney function is normal, force fluids. If anuria is present, restrict fluids and salt, and treat appropriately. Catheterization of the ureters may be indicated for complete renal blockage by crystals. The low molecular weight of sulfasalazine and its metabolites may facilitate their removal by dialysis.
DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION
The dosage of AZULFIDINE Tablets should be adjusted to each individual’s response and tolerance.
Adults: 3 to 4 g daily in evenly divided doses with dosage intervals not exceeding eight hours. In some cases, it is advisable to initiate therapy with a smaller dosage, e.g., 1 to 2 g daily, to reduce possible gastrointestinal intolerance. If daily doses exceeding 4 g are required to achieve desired effects, the increased risk of toxicity should be kept in mind.
Children, six years of age and older: 40 to 60 mg/kg body weight in each 24-hour period, divided into 3 to 6 doses.
Adults: 2 g daily.
Children, six years of age and older: 30 mg/kg body weight in each 24-hour period, divided into 4 doses.
The response of acute ulcerative colitis to AZULFIDINE Tablets can be evaluated by clinical criteria, including the presence of fever, weight changes, and degree and frequency of diarrhea and bleeding, as well as by sigmoidoscopy and the evaluation of biopsy samples. It is often necessary to continue medication even when clinical symptoms, including diarrhea, have been controlled. When endoscopic examination confirms satisfactory improvement, the dosage of AZULFIDINE should be reduced to a maintenance level.
If diarrhea recurs, the dosage should be increased to previously effective levels. If symptoms of gastric intolerance (anorexia, nausea, vomiting, etc.) occur after the first few doses of AZULFIDINE, they are probably due to increased serum levels of total sulfapyridine and may be alleviated by halving the daily dose of AZULFIDINE and subsequently increasing it gradually over several days.
If gastric intolerance continues, the drug should be stopped for 5 to 7 days, then reintroduced at a lower daily dose.