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Acthar Gel, H.P.

Generic Name: corticotropin (KOR ti koe TROE pin)
Brand Name: Acthar Gel, H.P.

What is Acthar Gel, H.P. (corticotropin)?

Corticotropin is a man-made form of a hormone that occurs naturally in the body.

Corticotropin is used as part of a medical test to check the functioning of your adrenal glands.

Corticotropin is also used to treat many different conditions such as allergic disorders, psoriasis and other skin conditions, eye conditions, arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, breathing disorders, and many others.

Corticotropin may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Corticotropin can reduce the symptoms of many disorders, but it is not considered a cure for these conditions. Corticotropin is also not expected to slow the progress of any disease.

What is the most important information I should know about Acthar Gel, H.P. (corticotropin)?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to corticotropin, or if you have adrenal insufficiency (Addison's disease), scleroderma, a fungal infection, herpes infection of the eyes, osteoporosis, a stomach ulcer, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, recent surgery, or if you are allergic to pork.

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Before using corticotropin, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions, and about all other medicines you are using. There are many other diseases that can be affected by corticotropin.

Your medication needs may change if you have any unusual stress such as a serious illness, fever or infection, or if you have surgery or a medical emergency. Tell your doctor about any such situation that affects you during treatment.

Do not receive a smallpox vaccine or any "live" vaccine while you are using corticotropin. Vaccines may not work as well while you are using corticotropin.

Corticotropin can reduce the symptoms of many disorders, but it is not considered a cure for these conditions. Corticotropin is also not expected to slow the progress of any disease.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using Acthar Gel, H.P. (corticotropin)?

You should not use this medication if you have:

  • adrenal insufficiency (Addison's disease);

  • scleroderma;

  • a fungal infection anywhere in your body;

  • herpes infection of the eyes;

  • osteoporosis;

  • past or present stomach ulcer;

  • congestive heart failure;

  • high blood pressure;

  • if you have recently had surgery; or

  • if you are allergic to pork proteins.

Corticotropin can worsen an infection you already have, or reactivate an infection you recently had. Before using this medication, tell your doctor about any illness or infection you have had within the past several weeks.

Other medical conditions you should tell your doctor about before using corticotropin include:

  • liver disease (such as cirrhosis);

  • kidney disease;

  • a thyroid disorder;

  • diabetes;

  • a history of tuberculosis;

  • a muscle disorder such as myasthenia gravis;

  • glaucoma or cataracts;

  • depression or mental illness; or

  • a stomach or intestinal disorder.

If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use corticotropin.

FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether corticotropin passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Steroids can affect growth in children. Talk with your doctor if you think your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medication.

How is corticotropin given?

Use this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not use the medication in larger amounts, or use it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Corticotropin is given as an injection into a muscle or under the skin. Your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider will give you this injection. You may be shown how to inject your medicine at home. Do not self-inject this medicine if you do not fully understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of used needles and syringes.

When used as in treating a medical condition, corticotropin is sometimes given daily, or every 2 to 3 days. Follow your doctor's instructions.

Do not inject corticotropin into a vein.

Use each disposable needle only one time. Throw away used needles in a puncture-proof container (ask your pharmacist where you can get one and how to dispose of it). Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.

Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results from this medication.

Your medication needs may change if you have unusual stress such as a serious illness, fever or infection, or if you have surgery or a medical emergency. Tell your doctor about any such situation that affects you.

This medication can cause you to have unusual results with certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using corticotropin.

If you use corticotropin at home, store it in the refrigerator and do not allow it to freeze. You may allow the medication to reach room temperature before measuring your dose in a syringe. Then place the vial back in the refrigerator.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, contact your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have received too much of this medicine.

A single large dose of corticotropin is not expected to produce life-threatening symptoms. However, long-term use could lead to symptoms such as thinning skin, easy bruising, changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your face, neck, back, and waist), increased acne or facial hair, menstrual problems, impotence, or loss of interest in sex.

What should I avoid while using Acthar Gel, H.P. (corticotropin)?

Do not receive a smallpox vaccine or any "live" vaccine while you are being treated with corticotropin. Vaccines may not work as well while you are using a steroid.

Avoid drinking alcohol while you are using corticotropin.

Acthar Gel, H.P. (corticotropin) side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • problems with your vision;

  • swelling, rapid weight gain, feeling short of breath;

  • severe depression, unusual thoughts or behavior, seizure (convulsions);

  • bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood;

  • pancreatitis (severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate);

  • low potassium (confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling); or

  • dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • mood changes;

  • acne, dry skin, thinning skin, bruising or discoloration;

  • slow wound healing;

  • increased sweating;

  • headache, dizziness, spinning sensation;

  • upset stomach; or

  • changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Acthar Gel, H.P. (corticotropin)?

The following drugs can interact with or may be affected by corticotropin. Tell your doctor if you are using any of these medicines:

  • aspirin (used on a daily basis or at high doses);

  • a diuretic (water pill); or

  • insulin or diabetes medications you use by mouth.

This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with corticotropin. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about corticotropin.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 1.04. Revision Date: 2010-12-15, 5:01:39 PM.

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