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METHOTREXATE ASTRON 50 MG/ML SOLUTION FOR INJECTION IN PRE-FILLED SYRINGE

Active substance(s): METHOTREXATE

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PACKAGE LEAFLET: INFORMATION FOR THE USER
Methotrexate Astron 50mg/ml solution for injection in pre-filled syringe
methotrexate

Read all of this leaflet carefully before you start using this medicine because it contains
important information for you.

Keep this leaflet. You may need to read it again.

If you have any further questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist or nurse.

This medicine has been prescribed for you only. Do not pass it on to others. It may harm
them, even if their signs of illness are the same as yours.

If you get any side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist or nurse. This includes any
possible side effects not listed in this leaflet. See section 4.
What is in this leaflet:
1. What Methotrexate is and what it is used for
2. What you need to know before you use Methotrexate
3. How to use Methotrexate
4. Possible side effects
5. How to store Methotrexate
6. Contents of the pack and other information

1.

What Methotrexate is and what it is used for

Methotrexate contains methotrexate as active substance
Methotrexate is a substance with following properties:
• it interferes with the growth of certain cells in the body that reproduce quickly
• it reduces the activity of the immune system (the body’s own defence mechanism)
• it has anti-inflammatory effects
Methotrexate is indicated for the treatment of





active rheumatoid arthritis in adult patients.
polyarthritic forms of severe, active juvenile idiopathic arthritis, when the response to
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) has been inadequate,
severe recalcitrant disabling psoriasis, which is not adequately responsive to other forms of
therapy such as phototherapy, PUVA, and retinoids, and severe psoriatic arthritis in adult
patients.
mild to moderate Crohn’s Disease in adult patients when adequate treatment with other
medicines is not possible.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic collagen disease, characterised by inflammation of the
synovial membranes (joint membranes). These membranes produce a fluid which acts as a
lubricant for many joints. The inflammation causes thickening of the membrane and swelling of
the joint.

Juvenile arthritis concerns children and adolescents less than 16 years. Polyarthritic forms are
indicated if 5 or more joints are affected within the first 6 months of the disease.
Psoriatic arthritis is a kind of arthritis with psoriatric lesions of the skin and nails, especially at
the joints of fingers and toes.
Psoriasis is a common chronic skin disease, characterised by red patches covered by thick, dry,
silvery, adherent scales.
Methotrexate modifies and slows down the progression of the disease.
Crohn’s Disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that may affect any part of the
gastrointestinal tract causing symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting or weight
loss.

2.

What you need to know before you use Methotrexate

Do not use Methotrexate if you:
• are allergic to methotrexate or any of the other ingredients of this medicine (listed in
section 6),
• suffer from severe liver or kidney diseases or blood diseases.
• regularly drink large amounts of alcohol.
• suffer from a severe infection, e.g. tuberculosis, HIV or other immunodeficiency syndromes.
• suffer from ulcers in the mouth, stomach ulcer or intestinal ulcer.
• are pregnant or breast-feeding.
• receive vaccinations with live vaccines at the same time.
Warnings and precautions
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist or nurse before taking Methotrexate if:
• you are elderly or if you feel generally unwell and weak.
• you have problems with the way your liver works.
• you suffer from dehydration (water loss).
Recommended follow-up examinations and safety measures:
Even when Methotrexate is administered in low doses, severe side effects can occur. In order to
detect them in time, check-ups and laboratory tests have to be carried out by your doctor.
Before therapy:
Before starting the treatment, blood samples will be taken in order to check that you have enough
blood cells, tests to check your liver function, serum albumin (a protein in the blood) and kidney
function. Your doctor will also check if you suffer from tuberculosis (infectious disease in
combination with little nodules in the affected tissue) and a chest X-ray will be taken.
During therapy:
You will have the following tests at least once a month during the first six months and at least
every three months thereafter:







Examination of the mouth and throat for alterations of the mucosa
Blood tests
Check of liver function
Check of kidney function
Check of respiratory system and if necessary lung function test

Methotrexate may affect your immune system and vaccination results. It may also affect the
result of immunological tests. Inactive, chronic infections (e.g. herpes zoster [shingles],
tuberculosis, hepatitis B or C) may flare up. During therapy with Methotrexate you must not be
vaccinated with live vaccines.
Radiation induced dermatitis and sun-burn can reappear under methotrexate therapy (recallreaction). Psoriatic lesions can exacerbate during UV-irradiation and simultaneous
administration of methotrexate.
Enlarged lymph nodes (lymphoma) may occur and therapy must then be stopped.
Diarrhoea can be a toxic effect of Methotrexate and requires an interruption of therapy. If you
suffer from diarrhoea please speak to your doctor.
Encephalopathy (a brain disorder)/leukoencephalopathy (a special disorder of the white brain
substance) have been reported in cancer patients receiving methotrexate therapy and cannot be
excluded for methotrexate therapy in other disease.
Other medicines and Methotrexate
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking, have recently taken or might take any other
medicines.
The effect of the treatment may be affected if Methotrexate is administered at the same time as
certain other drugs:










Medicines harming the liver or the blood count, e.g. leflunomide
Antibiotics (medicines to prevent/fight certain infections) such as: tetracyclines,
chloramphenicol, and non-absorbable broad-spectrum antibiotics, penicillines, glycopeptides,
sulphonamides (sulphur containing medicines that prevent/fight certain infections),
ciprofloxacin and cefalotin
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or salicylates (medicines against pain and/or
inflammation)
Probenecid (medicine against gout)
Weak organic acids like loop diuretics (“water tablets”) or some medicines used for
treatment of pain and inflammatory diseases (e.g. acetylsalicylic acid, diclofenac and
ibuprofen) and pyrazole (e.g. metamizol for treating pain)
Medicinal products, which may have adverse effects on the bone marrow, e.g. trimethoprimsulphamethoxazole (an antibiotic) and pyrimethamine
Sulphasalazine (antirheumatic medicine)
Azathioprine (an immunosuppressive agent sometimes used in severe forms of rheumatoid
arthritis)







Mercaptopurine (a cytostatic agent)
Retinoids (medicine against psoriasis and other dermatological diseases)
Theophylline (medicine against bronchial asthma and other lung diseases)
Proton-pump inhibitors (medicines against stomach trouble)
Hypoglycaemics (medicines that are used to lower the blood sugar)

Vitamins containing folic acid may impair the effect of your treatment and should only be taken
when advised by your doctor.
Vaccination with live vaccine should be avoided.
Methotrexate with food, drink and alcohol
Alcohol as well as large amounts of coffee, caffeine-containing soft drinks and black tea should
be avoided during treatment with Methotrexate.
Pregnancy, breast-feeding and fertility
If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, think you may be pregnant or are planning to have a baby,
ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice before taking this medicine.
You must not take Methotrexate during pregnancy. There is a risk of harm to the foetus and
miscarriage. Men and women should use an effective method of birth control during treatment
and during a further six months after treatment with Methotrexate has been discontinued.
In women of child-bearing age, any existing pregnancy must be excluded with certainty by
taking appropriate measures, e.g. pregnancy test, prior to therapy.
As methotrexate can be genotoxic, all women who wish to become pregnant are advised to
consult a genetic counselling centre, if possible, already prior to therapy, and men should seek
advice about the possibility of sperm preservation before starting therapy.
Breast-feeding has to be stopped prior to and during treatment with Methotrexate.
Driving and using machines
Treatment with Methotrexate may cause adverse reactions affecting the central nervous system,
e.g. tiredness and dizziness. Thus the ability to drive a vehicle and/or to operate machines may,
in certain cases, be compromised. If you feel tired or drowsy you should not drive or use
machines.
Methotrexate contains sodium
This medicinal product contains less than 1 mmol sodium (23 mg) per dose, i.e. essentially
“sodium-free”.

3.

How to use Methotrexate

Your doctor decides on the dosage, which is adjusted individually. Usually it takes 4 – 8 weeks
before there is any effect of the treatment.

Methotrexate is administered subcutaneously (under the skin) by or under the supervision of a
physician or healthcare staff as an injection once a week only. Together with your doctor you
decide on a suitable weekday each week on which you receive your injection.
Use in children and adolescents
The doctor decides on the appropriate dose in children and adolescents with polyarthritic forms
of juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Methotrexate is not recommended in children less than 3 years of age due to insufficient
experience in this age group.
Method and duration of administration
Methotrexate is injected once weekly!
The duration of the treatment is determined by the treating physician. Treatment of rheumatoid
arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriasis vulgaris, psoriatic arthritis and Crohn’s disease
with Methotrexate is a long-term treatment.
At the start of your therapy, Methotrexate may be injected by medical staff. In certain cases your
doctor may decide to instruct you how to inject Methotrexate under the skin yourself. You will
then receive appropriate training.
Under no circumstances should you try to inject Methotrexate yourself before you have received
such training.
Please refer to the instructions for use at the end of the leaflet.
Please note that all of the contents have to be used.
The manner of handling and disposal must be consistent with that of other cytostatic preparations
in accordance with local requirements. Pregnant health care personnel should not handle and/or
administer Methotrexate.
Methotrexate should not come into contact with the surface of the skin or mucosa. In the event of
contamination, the affected area must be rinsed immediately with plenty of water.
If you use more Methotrexate than you should
If you use more Methotrexate than you should, talk to your doctor immediately.
If you forget to use Methotrexate
Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.
If you stop using Methotrexate
If you stop using Methotrexate, talk to your doctor immediately.
If you have the impression that the effect of Methotrexate is too strong or too weak, you should
talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

4.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, this medicine can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them.
The frequency as well as the degree of severity of the side effects depends on the dosage level
and the frequency of administration. As severe side effects may occur even at low dosage, it is
important that you are monitored regularly by your doctor. Your doctor will do tests to check
for abnormalities developing in the blood (such as low white blood cells, low platelets,
lymphoma) and changes in the kidneys and the liver.
Tell your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms, as these may
indicate a serious, potentially life-threatening side effect, which require urgent specific
treatment:















persistent dry, non-productive cough, shortness of breath and fever; these may be
signs of an inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) [common - may affect up to 1 in 10
people]
symptoms of liver damage such as yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes;
methotrexate can cause chronic liver damage (liver cirrhosis), formation of scar tissue of
the liver (liver fibrosis), fatty degeneration of the liver [all uncommon - may affect up to
1 in 100 people], inflammation of the liver (acute hepatitis) [rare - may affect up to 1 in
1,000 people] and liver failure [very rare - may affect up to 1 in 10,000 people]
allergy symptoms such as skin rash including red itchy skin, swelling of the hands,
feet, ankles, face, lips, mouth or throat (which may cause difficulty in swallowing or
breathing) and feeling you are going to faint; these may be signs of severe allergic
reactions or an anaphylactic shock [rare - may affect up to 1 in 1,000 people]
symptoms of kidney damage such as swelling of the hands, ankles or feet or changes
in frequency of urination or decrease or absence of urine; these may be signs of
kidney failure [rare - may affect up to 1 in 1,000 people]
symptoms of infections, e.g. fever, chills, achiness, sore throat; methotrexate can make
you more susceptible to infections. Rarely [may affect up to 1 in 1,000 people] severe
infections like a certain type of pneumonia (Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia) or blood
poisoning (sepsis) may occur
severe diarrhoea, vomiting blood and black or tarry stools; these symptoms may
indicate a rare [may affect up to 1 in 1,000 people] severe complication of the
gastrointestinal system caused by methotrexate e.g. gastrointestinal ulcers
symptoms associated with the blockage (occlusion) of a blood vessel by a dislodged
blood clot (thromboembolic event) such as weakness of one side of the body (stroke)
or pain, swelling, redness and unusual warmth in one of your legs (deep vein
thrombosis); methotrexate can cause thromboembolic events [rare - may affect up to 1 in
1,000 people]
fever and serious deterioration of your general condition, or sudden fever
accompanied by a sore throat or mouth, or urinary problems; methotrexate can very
rarely [may affect up to 1 in 10,000 people] cause a sharp fall in white blood cells
(agranulocytosis) and severe bone marrow suppression
unexpected bleeding, e.g. bleeding gums, blood in the urine, vomiting blood or
bruising, these can be signs of a severely reduced number of blood platelets caused by
severe courses of bone marrow depression [very rare - may affect up to 1 in 10,000
people]



severe skin rash or blistering of the skin (this can also affect your mouth, eyes and
genitals); these may be signs of the very rare [may affect up to 1 in 10,000 people]
conditions called Stevens Johnson syndrome or burned skin syndrome (toxic epidermal
necrolysis)

In the following, please find the other side effects that may occur:
Very common: may affect more than 1 in 10 people

Mouth inflammation, indigestion, nausea (feeling sick), loss of appetite

Increase in liver enzymes
Common: may affect up to 1 in 10 people

Mouth ulcers, diarrhoea

Rash, reddening of the skin, itching

Headache, tiredness, drowsiness

Reduced blood cell formation with decrease in white and/or red blood cells and/or platelets
(leukopenia, anaemia, thrombocytopenia)
Uncommon: may affect up to 1 in 100 people

Throat inflammation, inflammation of the bowels, vomiting

Increased sensitivity to light, loss of hair, increased number of rheumatic nodules, shingles,
inflammation of blood vessels, herpes-like skin rash, hives

Onset of diabetes mellitus

Dizziness, confusion, depression

Decrease in serum albumin

Decrease in the number of blood cells and platelets

Inflammation and ulcer of the urinary bladder or vagina, reduced kidney function,
disturbed urination

Joint pain, muscle pain, osteoporosis (reduction of bone mass)
Rare: may affect up to 1 in 1,000 people

Increased skin pigmentation, acne, blue spots due to vessel bleeding

Allergic inflammation of blood vessels, fever, red eyes, infection, wound-healing
impairment, decreased number of anti-bodies in the blood

Visual disturbances

Inflammation of the sac around the heart, accumulation of fluid in the sac around the heart

Low blood pressure

Lung fibrosis, shortness of breath and bronchial asthma, accumulation of fluid in the sac
around the lung

Electrolyte disturbances
Very rare: may affect up to 1 in 10,000 people

Profuse bleeding, toxic megacolon (acute toxic dilatation of the gut)

Increased pigmentation of the nails, inflammation of the cuticles, furunculosis (deep
infection of hair follicles), visible enlargement of small blood vessels

• Impaired vision, pain, loss of strength or sensation of numbness or tingling in arms and
legs, changes in taste (metallic taste), convulsions, paralysis, severe headache with fever

Retinopathy (noninflammatory eye disorder)




Loss of sexual drive, impotence, male breast enlargement (gynaecomastia), defective
sperm formation, menstrual disorder, vaginal discharge
Enlargement of lymphatic nodes (lymphoma)

Not Known: frequency cannot be estimated from the available data:

Leukoencephalopathy (a disease of the white brain substance)
Subcutaneous application of methotrexate is locally well tolerated. Only mild local skin reactions
(such as burning sensations, erythema, swelling, discolouration, severe itching, pain) were
observed, decreasing during therapy.
Reporting of side effects
If you get any side effects, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse. This includes any possible
side effects not listed in this leaflet.
You can also report side effects directly via Yellow Card Scheme
Website: www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard. By reporting side effects you can help provide more
information on the safety of this medicine.

5.

How to store Methotrexate

Keep this medicine out of the sight and reach of children.
Store below 30 °C.
Keep the pre-filled syringes in the outer carton in order to protect from light.
Do not use this medicine after the expiry date which is stated on the label/carton after EXP. The
expiry date refers to the last day of that month.
Do not use Methotrexate if you notice sign of colour change or contain visible particles.
Do not throw away any medicines via waste water or household waste. Ask your pharmacist how
to throw away medicines you no longer use. These measures will help protect the environment.

6.

Contents of the pack and other information

What Methotrexate contains



The active substance is methotrexate. 1 ml of solution contains methotrexate disodium
corresponding to 50 mg methotrexate.
The other ingredients are sodium chloride, sodium hydroxide (for pH adjustment) and
water for injections.

What Methotrexate looks like and contents of the pack
Methotrexate pre-filled syringes contain a clear, yellow to brown solution.
The following pack sizes are available:



For 0.15 mL, 0.20 mL, 0.30 mL and 0.40 mL: packs of 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12 and 24
prefilled syringes with fixed needle covered with rigid needle shield.



For 0.25 mL, 0.35 mL, 0.45 mL, 0.55 mL and 0.60 mL: packs of 1, 4, 5, 6 and 12
prefilled syringes with fixed needle covered with rigid needle shield.



For 0.50 mL: packs of 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 10 and 12 prefilled syringes with fixed needle covered
with rigid needle shield.

Pre-filled syringes are available with and without blister pack.
Not all pack sizes may be marketed.
Marketing Authorisation Holder and Manufacturer
Marketing Authorisation Holder:
Astron Research Limited,
Sage House, 319 Pinner Road,
North Harrow,
Middlesex, HA1 4HF,
United Kingdom
Manufacturer:
Astron Research Limited,
Sage House, 319 Pinner Road,
North Harrow,
Middlesex, HA1 4HF,
United Kingdom
Wessling Hungary Kft.,
Fóti út 56., Budapest 1047,
Hungary

This leaflet was last revised in 01/2016.

Instructions for use
Carefully read the instructions below before starting your injection, and always use the injection
technique advised by your doctor, pharmacist or nurse.
For any problem or question, contact your doctor, pharmacist or nurse.
Preparation
Select a clean, well-lit and flat working surface.
Collect necessary items before you begin:
• 1 Methotrexate pre-filled syringe
Wash your hands carefully. Before use, check the Methotrexate syringe for visual defects (or
cracks).
Injection site

The best sites for injection are:
- upper thighs,
- abdomen except around the navel.




If someone is helping you with the injection, he/she may
also give the injection into the back of your arms, just
below the shoulder.
Change the injection site with each injection. This may
reduce the risk of developing irritations at the injection
site.
Never inject into skin that is tender, bruised, red, hard,
scarred or where you have stretch marks. If you have
psoriasis, you should try not to inject directly into any
raised, thick, red or scaly skin patches or lesions

Injecting the solution
1.

Unpack the methotrexate pre-filled syringe and read the package leaflet carefully. Remove
the pre-filled syringe from the packaging at room temperature.

2.

Disinfection

Choose an injection site and disinfect it with a swab
soaked in disinfectant.
Allow at least 60 seconds for the disinfectant to dry.

3.

Remove the protective cap

Carefully remove the protective cap by pulling it
straight off the syringe. If the cap is very stiff, turn it
slightly with a pulling movement.
Important: Do not touch the needle of the pre-filled
syringe!

4.

Inserting the cannula

Using two fingers, pinch up a fold of skin and quickly
insert the needle into the skin at a 90-degree angle.

5.

Injection

Insert the needle fully into the fold of skin. Push the
plunger down slowly and inject all of the liquid
underneath your skin. Hold the skin securely until the
injection is completed. Pre-filled syringe is not
intended to deliver partial doses.
Carefully pull the needle straight out.

Methotrexate should not come into contact with the surface of the skin or mucosa. In the event of
contamination, the affected area must be rinsed immediately with plenty of water.
If you or someone around you is injured by the needle, consult your doctor immediately and do
not use this pre-filled syringe.
Disposal and other handling
The manner of handling and throwing away of the medicine and pre-filled syringe must be in
consistent with that of other cytostatic preparations in accordance with local requirements.
Pregnant healthcare personnel should not handle and/or administer Methotrexate.

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Source: Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided here is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. This information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

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