THALOMID (thalidomide)

THALOMID (thalidomide) capsules

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THALOMID (thalidomide)

THALOMID, α-(N-phthalimido) glutarimide, is an immunomodulatory agent. The empirical formula for thalidomide is C13H10N2O4 and the gram molecular weight is 258.2. The CAS number of thalidomide is 50-35-1.

Thalidomide is an off-white to white, odorless, crystalline powder that is soluble at 25 °C in dimethyl sulfoxide and sparingly soluble in water and ethanol. The glutarimide moiety contains a single asymmetric center and, therefore, may exist in either of two optically active forms designated S-(-) or R-(+). THALOMID is an equal mixture of the S-(-) and R-(+) forms and, therefore, has a net optical rotation of zero.

THALOMID is available in 50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg and 200 mg capsules for oral administration. Active ingredient: thalidomide. Inactive ingredients: pregelatinized starch and magnesium stearate. The 50 mg capsule shell contains gelatin, titanium dioxide, and black ink. The 100 mg capsule shell contains black iron oxide, yellow iron oxide, titanium dioxide, gelatin, and black ink. The 150 mg capsule shell contains FD&C blue #2, black iron oxide, yellow iron oxide, titanium dioxide, gelatin, and black and white ink. The 200 mg capsule shell contains FD&C blue #2, titanium dioxide, gelatin, and white ink

Indications and usage

Multiple Myeloma: THALOMID in combination with dexamethasone is indicated for the treatment of patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (MM)

Erythema Nodosum Leprosum:

  • THALOMID is indicated for the acute treatment of the cutaneous manifestations of moderate to severe erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL).
  • THALOMID is not indicated as monotherapy for such ENL treatment in the presence of moderate to severe neuritis.
  • THALOMID is also indicated as maintenance therapy for prevention and suppression of the cutaneous manifestations of ENL recurrence

Mechanism of Action

The mechanism of action of THALOMID is not fully understood. Cellular activities of thalidomide are mediated through its target cereblon, a component of a cullin ring E3 ubiquitin ligase enzyme complex. THALOMID possesses immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and antiangiogenic properties. Available data from in vitro studies and 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-) 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- in patients with erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL); however, it has also been shown to increase plasma TNF- levels in HIV-seropositive patients. Other anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties of thalidomide may include suppression of macrophage involvement in prostaglandin synthesis, and modulation of interleukin-10 and interleukin-12 production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Thalidomide treatment of multiple myeloma patients is accompanied by an increase in the number of circulating natural killer cells, and an increase in plasma levels of interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma (T cell-derived cytokines associated with cytotoxic activity). Thalidomide was found to inhibit angiogenesis in a human umbilical artery explant model in vitro. The cellular processes of angiogenesis inhibited by thalidomide may include the proliferation of endothelial cells.

Dosage and administration

Required Baseline Testing: Drug prescribing to females of reproductive potential is contingent upon initial and continued negative results of pregnancy testing.

THALOMID must only be administered in compliance with all of the terms outlined in the THALOMID REMS program. THALOMID may only be prescribed by prescribers certified with the THALOMID REMS program and may only be dispensed by pharmacists certified with the THALOMID REMS program.

Recommended Dosage for Multiple Myeloma: The recommended dose of THALOMID in combination with dexamethasone is 200 mg once daily (in 28 day treatment cycles) orally with water, preferably at bedtime and at least 1 hour after the evening meal. The dose of dexamethasone is 40 mg daily administered orally on days 1-4, 9-12, and 17-20 every 28 days.

Recommended Dosage for Erythema Nodosum Leprosum: The recommended dose of THALOMID for an episode of cutaneous ENL is 100 to 300 mg/day once daily orally with water, preferably at bedtime and at least 1 hour after the evening meal. Initiate dosing for patients weighing less than 50 kilograms at the low end of the dose range.

Consider dosing in the higher dosage range for patients with a severe cutaneous ENL reaction, or in those who have previously required higher doses to control the reaction (possibly up to 400 mg/day) once daily at bedtime or in divided doses with water, at least 1 hour after meals.

Consider concomitant use of corticosteroids in patients with moderate to severe neuritis associated with a severe ENL reaction. Steroid usage can be tapered and discontinued when the neuritis has ameliorated.

Continue dosing with THALOMID until signs and symptoms of active reaction have subsided, usually a period of at least 2 weeks. Patients may then be tapered off medication in 50 mg decrements every 2 to 4 weeks

Patients who have a documented history of requiring prolonged maintenance treatment to prevent the recurrence of cutaneous ENL or who flare during tapering should be maintained on the minimum dose necessary to control the reaction. Tapering off medication should be attempted every 3 to 6 months, in decrements of 50 mg every 2 to 4 weeks.

Dosage Modifications for Adverse Reactions

Interrupt THALOMID for constipation, somnolence, or peripheral neuropathy. Consider a reduced dose upon resumption of treatment.

Consider dose reduction, delay, or discontinuation in patients who develop National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria (NCI CTC) Grade 3 or 4 adverse reactions and/or based on clinical judgment.

Permanently discontinue THALOMID for angioedema, anaphylaxis, Grade 4 rash, skin exfoliation, bullae, or any other severe dermatologic reactions.



THALOMID is contraindicated in females who are pregnant. THALOMID can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant female. THALOMID is a powerful human teratogen, inducing a high frequency of severe and lifethreatening birth defects, even after a single dose. Mortality at or shortly after birth has been reported in about 40% of infants. If this drug is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential risk to a fetus. If pregnancy occurs during THALOMID treatment, the drug should be discontinued immediately


THALOMID is contraindicated in patients who have demonstrated hypersensitivity to the drug or its components

Warnings and precautions

  • Ischemic heart disease (including myocardial infarction) and stroke have been observed in patients treated with THALOMID in combination with dexamethasone.
  • Increased Mortality: Observed in patients with MM when pembrolizumab was added to dexamethasone and a thalidomide analogue.
  • Drowsiness and Somnolence: Instruct patients to avoid situations where drowsiness may be a problem and not to take other medications that may cause drowsiness.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Monitor patients for signs or symptoms of peripheral neuropathy during treatment. Discontinue THALOMID if symptoms of drug-induced peripheral neuropathy occur, if clinically appropriate.
  • Dizziness and Orthostatic Hypotension: Advise patients to sit upright for a few minutes prior to standing up from a recumbent position.
  • Neutropenia and Thrombocytopenia: Patients may require dose interruption and/or dose reduction.
  • Increased HIV Viral Load: Measure viral load during treatment.
  • Bradycardia: Monitor patients for bradycardia and possible syncope. Dose reduction or discontinuation may be required.
  • Severe Cutaneous Reactions: Discontinue THALOMID for severe reactions.
  • Seizures: Monitor patients with a history of seizures or other risk factors for acute seizure activity.
  • Tumor Lysis Syndrome: Monitor patients at risk (e.g., those with high tumor burden prior to treatment) and take appropriate precautions.
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  • Hypersensitivity: Monitor patients for potential hypersensitivity. Discontinue THALOMID for angioedema and anaphylaxis.

Adverse reactions

  • Teratogenicity
  • Venous and Arterial Thromboembolism
  • Increased Mortality in Patients with MM When Pembrolizumab Is Added to a Thalidomide Analogue and Dexamethasone
  • Drowsiness and Somnolence
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Dizziness and Orthostatic Hypotension
  • Neutropenia
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Increased HIV Viral Load
  • Bradycardia
  • Severe Cutaneous Reactions
  • Seizures
  • Tumor Lysis Syndrome
  • Hypersensitivity

Drug interactions

Opioids, Antihistamines, Antipsychotics, Anti-anxiety Agents, or Other CNS Depressants (Including Alcohol): The use of opioids, antihistamines, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety agents, or other CNS depressants concomitantly with THALOMID may cause an additive sedative effect and should be avoided

Drugs which Cause Bradycardia: The use of drugs which slow cardiac conduction concomitantly with THALOMID may cause an additive bradycardic effect and should be used with caution. Cardiovascular medications which may cause bradycardia include calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, alpha/beta-adrenergic blockers, and digoxin. Non-cardiac drugs that may cause bradycardia include H2 blockers (e.g., famotidine, cimetidine), lithium, tricyclic antidepressants and neuromuscular blockers (succinylcholine).

Drugs which Cause Peripheral Neuropathy: The use of drugs which cause peripheral neuropathy (e.g., bortezomib, amiodarone, cisplatin, docetaxel, paclitaxel, vincristine, disulfiram, phenytoin, metronidazole, alcohol) can cause an additive effect and should be used with caution.

Hormonal Contraceptives: Hormonal contraceptives increase the risk of thromboembolism. It is not known whether concomitant use of hormonal contraceptives further increases the risk of thromboembolism with THALOMID.

Warfarin: In 13 healthy men, the pharmacokinetic profile and international normalized ratio (INR) of prothrombin time for warfarin, following a single oral dose of 25 mg, were similar with and without the coadministration of THALOMID 200 mg/day at steady-state levels. The single dose of warfarin had no effect on the pharmacokinetic profile of thalidomide

Drugs that Interfere with Hormonal Contraceptives: Concomitant use of HIV-protease inhibitors, griseofulvin, modafinil, penicillins, rifampin, rifabutin, phenytoin, carbamazepine, or certain herbal supplements such as St. John’s Wort with hormonal contraceptive agents may reduce the effectiveness of the contraception up to one month after discontinuation of these concomitant therapies. Therefore, females requiring treatment with one or more of these drugs must use two OTHER effective or highly effective methods of contraception while taking THALOMID.

Concomitant Therapies that may Increase the Risk of Thromboembolism: Erythropoietic agents, or other agents that may increase the risk of thromboembolism, such as estrogen containing therapies, should be used with caution in multiple myeloma patients receiving THALOMID with dexamethasone.

Use in specific populations

Pregnancy: Based on the mechanism of action, human and animal data, THALOMID can cause embryo-fetal harm when administered to a pregnant female and is contraindicated during pregnancy.

THALOMID is a human teratogen, inducing a high frequency of severe and life-threatening birth defects such as amelia (absence of limbs), phocomelia (short limbs), hypoplasticity of the bones, absence of bones, external ear abnormalities (including anotia, micropinna, small or absent external auditory canals), facial palsy, eye abnormalities (anophthalmos, microphthalmos), and congenital heart defects. Alimentary tract, urinary tract, and genital malformations have also been documented and mortality at or shortly after birth has been reported in about 40% of infants. Even a single dose taken by a pregnant woman can cause birth defects. If this drug is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential risk to a fetus.

Lactation: There is no information regarding the presence of thalidomide in human milk, the effects of THALOMID on the breastfed child, or the effects of THALOMID on milk production. Thalidomide is excreted in the milk of lactating rabbits. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for adverse reactions in a breastfed child from THALOMID, advise women not to breastfeed during treatment with THALOMID.

Pregnancy Testing: THALOMID can cause fetal harm when administered during pregnancy. Verify the pregnancy status of females of reproductive potential prior to initiating THALOMID therapy and during therapy. Advise females of reproductive potential that they must avoid pregnancy 4 weeks before therapy, while taking THALOMID, during dose interruptions and for at least 4 weeks after completing therapy.

Females of reproductive potential must have 2 negative pregnancy tests before initiating THALOMID. The first test should be performed within 10-14 days, and the second test within 24 hours prior to prescribing THALOMID. Once treatment has started and during dose interruptions, pregnancy testing for females of reproductive potential should occur weekly during the first 4 weeks of use, then pregnancy testing should be repeated every 4 weeks in females with regular menstrual cycles. If menstrual cycles are irregular, the pregnancy testing should occur every 2 weeks. Pregnancy testing and counseling should be performed if a patient misses her period or if there is any abnormality in her menstrual bleeding. THALOMID treatment must be discontinued during this evaluation.

Contraception: Females; Females of reproductive potential must commit either to abstain continuously from heterosexual sexual intercourse or to use 2 methods of reliable birth control simultaneously: one highly effective form of contraception – tubal ligation, IUD, hormonal (birth control pills, injections, hormonal patches, vaginal rings, or implants), or partner’s vasectomy, and 1 additional effective contraceptive method – male latex or synthetic condom, diaphragm, or cervical cap. Contraception must begin 4 weeks prior to initiating treatment with THALOMID, during therapy, during dose interruptions, and continuing for 4 weeks following discontinuation of THALOMID therapy. Reliable contraception is indicated even where there has been a history of infertility, unless due to hysterectomy. Females of reproductive potential should be referred to a qualified provider of contraceptive methods, if needed.

Contraception: Males; Thalidomide is present in the semen of males who take THALOMID. Therefore, males must always use a latex or synthetic condom during any sexual contact with females of reproductive potential while taking THALOMID, during dose interruptions and for up to 28 days after discontinuing THALOMID, even if they have undergone a successful vasectomy. Male patients taking THALOMID must not donate sperm.

Pediatric Use: Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients below the age of 12 years have not been established.

Geriatric Use: One hundred and seventy-six (52%) of 336 patients treated with THALOMID in combination with dexamethasone were ≥65 of age while 50 (15%) were ≥75. Patients ≥65 years of age on Study 2 had higher incidences of atrial fibrillation, constipation, fatigue, nausea, hypokalemia, deep venous thrombosis, hyperglycemia, pulmonary embolism, and asthenia compared to patients <65.


There is no specific antidote for a THALOMID overdose. In the event of an overdose, the patient’s vital signs should be monitored and appropriate supportive care given to maintain blood pressure and respiratory status.


This drug must not be repackaged. Store at 20°C- 25°C (68°F -77°F); excursions permitted to 15-30º C (59-86º F). [See USP Controlled Room Temperature]. Protect from light.

Handling and Disposal

Care should be exercised in handling of THALOMID. THALOMID capsules should not be opened or crushed. If powder from THALOMID contacts the skin, wash the skin immediately and thoroughly with soap and water. If THALOMID contacts the mucous membranes, flush thoroughly with water. Procedures for proper handling and disposal of anticancer drugs should be considered. Several guidelines on the subject have been published . Rx only and only able to be prescribed and dispensed under the terms of the THALOMID REMS Restricted Distribution Program.

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