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AndroGel and Pregnancy
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.
AndroGel falls into category X. It has been shown that women taking testosterone during pregnancy may have babies born with problems. There are no situations where the benefits of the medication for the mother outweigh the risks of harm to the baby. AndroGel should never be used by pregnant women.
Dosage Forms and Strengths
AndroGel (testosterone gel) 1% for topical use is available as follows:
- A unit dose packet containing 25 mg of testosterone provided in 2.5 g of gel.
- A unit dose packet containing 50 mg of testosterone provided in 5 g of gel.
- AndroGel 1% is contraindicated in men with carcinoma of the breast or known or suspected carcinoma of the prostate [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1), Adverse Reactions (6.1), and Nonclinical Toxicology (13.1)].
- AndroGel 1% is contraindicated in women who are or may become pregnant, or who are breastfeeding. AndroGel 1% may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. AndroGel 1% may cause serious adverse reactions in nursing infants. Exposure of a female fetus or nursing infant to androgens may result in varying degrees of virilization. Pregnant women or those who may become pregnant need to be aware of the potential for transfer of testosterone from men treated with AndroGel 1%. If a pregnant woman is exposed to AndroGel 1%, she should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2) and Use in Specific Populations (8.1, 8.3)].
Changes in insulin sensitivity or glycemic control may occur in patients treated with androgens. In diabetic patients, the metabolic effects of androgens may decrease blood glucose and, therefore, may decrease insulin requirements.
Changes in anticoagulant activity may be seen with androgens, therefore more frequent monitoring of international normalized ratio (INR) and prothrombin time are recommended in patients taking anticoagulants, especially at the initiation and termination of androgen therapy.
The concurrent use of testosterone with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) or corticosteroids may result in increased fluid retention and requires careful monitoring particularly in patients with cardiac, renal or hepatic disease.
Use in specific populations
Pregnancy Category X [see Contraindications (4)]: AndroGel 1% is contraindicated during pregnancy or in women who may become pregnant. Testosterone is teratogenic and may cause fetal harm. Exposure of a female fetus to androgens may result in varying degrees of virilization. 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 hazard to a fetus.
Although it is not known how much testosterone transfers into human milk, AndroGel 1% is contraindicated in nursing women because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants. Testosterone and other androgens may adversely affect lactation [see Contraindications (4)].
The safety and efficacy of AndroGel 1% in pediatric patients less than 18 years old has not been established. Improper use may result in acceleration of bone age and premature closure of epiphyses.
There have not been sufficient numbers of geriatric patients involved in controlled clinical studies utilizing AndroGel 1% to determine whether efficacy in those over 65 years of age differs from younger subjects. Additionally, there is insufficient long-term safety data in geriatric patients to assess the potential risks of cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer.
Geriatric patients treated with androgens may also be at risk for worsening of signs and symptoms of BPH.
No studies were conducted in patients with renal impairment.
No studies were conducted in patients with hepatic impairment.
Drug Abuse and Dependence
AndroGel 1% contains testosterone, a Schedule III controlled substance in the Controlled Substances Act.
Drug abuse is intentional non-therapeutic use of a drug, even once, for its rewarding psychological and physiological effects. Abuse and misuse of testosterone are seen in male and female adults and adolescents. Testosterone, often in combination with other anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), and not obtained by prescription through a pharmacy, may be abused by athletes and bodybuilders. There have been reports of misuse by men taking higher doses of legally obtained testosterone than prescribed and continuing testosterone despite adverse events or against medical advice.
Abuse-Related Adverse Reactions
Serious adverse reactions have been reported in individuals who abuse anabolic androgenic steroids and include cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, cerebrovascular accident, hepatotoxicity, and serious psychiatric manifestations, including major depression, mania, paranoia, psychosis, delusions, hallucinations, hostility and aggression.
The following adverse reactions have also been reported in men: transient ischemic attacks, convulsions, hypomania, irritability, dyslipidemias, testicular atrophy, subfertility, and infertility.
The following additional adverse reactions have been reported in women: hirsutism, virilization, deepening of voice, clitoral enlargement, breast atrophy, male-pattern baldness, and menstrual irregularities.
The following adverse reactions have been reported in male and female adolescents: premature closure of bony epiphyses with termination of growth, and precocious puberty.
Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size and may include abuse of other agents, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.
Behaviors Associated with Addiction
Continued abuse of testosterone and other anabolic steroids, leading to addiction is characterized by the following behaviors:
- Taking greater dosages than prescribed
- Continued drug use despite medical and social problems due to drug use
- Spending significant time to obtain the drug when supplies of the drug are interrupted
- Giving a higher priority to drug use than other obligations
- Having difficulty in discontinuing the drug despite desires and attempts to do so
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms upon abrupt discontinuation of use
Physical dependence is characterized by withdrawal symptoms after abrupt drug discontinuation or a significant dose reduction of a drug. Individuals taking supratherapeutic doses of testosterone may experience withdrawal symptoms lasting for weeks or months which include depressed mood, major depression, fatigue, craving, restlessness, irritability, anorexia, insomnia, decreased libido and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism.
Drug dependence in individuals using approved doses of testosterone for approved indications has not been documented.
AndroGel - Clinical Pharmacology
Mechanism of Action
Endogenous androgens, including testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), are responsible for the normal growth and development of the male sex organs and for maintenance of secondary sex characteristics. These effects include the growth and maturation of prostate, seminal vesicles, penis and scrotum; the development of male hair distribution, such as facial, pubic, chest and axillary hair; laryngeal enlargement, vocal chord thickening, alterations in body musculature and fat distribution. Testosterone and DHT are necessary for the normal development of secondary sex characteristics.
Male hypogonadism, a clinical syndrome resulting from insufficient secretion of testosterone, has two main etiologies. Primary hypogonadism is caused by defects of the gonads, such as Klinefelter’s syndrome or Leydig cell aplasia, whereas secondary hypogonadism is the failure of the hypothalamus (or pituitary) to produce sufficient gonadotropins (FSH, LH).
No specific pharmacodynamic studies were conducted using AndroGel 1%.
AndroGel 1% delivers physiologic amounts of testosterone, producing circulating testosterone concentrations that approximate normal concentrations (298 - 1043 ng/dL) seen in healthy men. AndroGel 1% provides continuous transdermal delivery of testosterone for 24 hours following a single application to intact, clean, dry skin of the shoulders, upper arms and/or abdomen.
AndroGel 1% is a hydroalcoholic formulation that dries quickly when applied to the skin surface. The skin serves as a reservoir for the sustained release of testosterone into the systemic circulation. Approximately 10% of the testosterone dose applied on the skin surface from AndroGel is absorbed into systemic circulation. In a study with AndroGel 1% 100 mg , all patients showed an increase in serum testosterone within 30 minutes, and eight of nine patients had a serum testosterone concentration within normal range by 4 hours after the initial application. Absorption of testosterone into the blood continues for the entire 24-hour dosing interval. Serum concentrations approximate the steady-state concentration by the end of the first 24 hours and are at steady state by the second or third day of dosing.
With single daily applications of AndroGel 1%, follow-up measurements 30, 90 and 180 days after starting treatment have confirmed that serum testosterone concentrations are generally maintained within the eugonadal range. Figure 1 summarizes the 24-hour pharmacokinetic profiles of testosterone for hypogonadal men (less than 300 ng/dL) maintained on AndroGel 1% 50 mg or 100 mg for 30 days. The average (± SD) daily testosterone concentration produced by AndroGel 1% 100 mg on Day 30 was 792 (± 294) ng/dL and by AndroGel 1% 50 mg 566 (± 262) ng/dL.
Figure 1: Mean (± SD) Steady-State Serum Testosterone Concentrations on Day 30 in Patients Applying AndroGel 1% Once Daily
Circulating testosterone is primarily bound in the serum to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and albumin. Approximately 40% of testosterone in plasma is bound to SHBG, 2% remains unbound (free) and the rest is bound to albumin and other proteins.
Testosterone is metabolized to various 17-keto steroids through two different pathways. The major active metabolites of testosterone are estradiol and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
DHT concentrations increased in parallel with testosterone concentrations during AndroGel 1% treatment. The mean steady-state DHT/T ratio during 180 days of AndroGel treatment ranged from 0.23 to 0.29 (50 mg of AndroGel 1%/day) and from 0.27 to 0.33 (100 mg of AndroGel 1%/day).
There is considerable variation in the half-life of testosterone concentration as reported in the literature, ranging from 10 to 100 minutes. About 90% of a dose of testosterone given intramuscularly is excreted in the urine as glucuronic and sulfuric acid conjugates of testosterone and its metabolites. About 6% of a dose is excreted in the feces, mostly in the unconjugated form. Inactivation of testosterone occurs primarily in the liver.
When AndroGel 1% treatment is discontinued after achieving steady state, serum testosterone concentrations remain in the normal range for 24 to 48 hours but return to their pretreatment concentrations by the fifth day after the last application.
Testosterone Transfer from Male Patients to Female Partners
The potential for dermal testosterone transfer following AndroGel 1% use was evaluated in a clinical study between males dosed with AndroGel 1% and their untreated female partners. Two (2) to 12 hours after application of 100 mg of testosterone administered as AndroGel 1% by the male subjects, the couples (N = 38 couples) engaged in daily, 15-minute sessions of vigorous skin-to-skin contact so that the female partners gained maximum exposure to the AndroGel 1% application sites. Under these study conditions, all unprotected female partners had a serum testosterone concentration >2 times the baseline value at some time during the study. When a shirt covered the application site(s), the transfer of testosterone from the males to the female partners was completely prevented.
How should I use AndroGel?
Use AndroGel exactly as it was prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than prescribed.
Misuse of AndroGel can cause dangerous or irreversible effects, such as enlarged breasts, small testicles, infertility, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, liver disease, bone growth problems, addiction, and mental effects such as aggression and violence.
Do not share this medicine with another person.
This medicine comes with patient instructions for safe and effective use. Follow these directions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
Apply AndroGel only to your shoulders and upper arms that will be covered by a short sleeve t-shirt. Wash your hands right away with soap and water after applying the gel. Keep the area covered until you have washed the application area well or have showered. If you expect to have skin-to-skin contact with another person, first wash the application area well with soap and water.
Do not apply AndroGel to your penis or scrotum.
Apply testosterone gel to dry skin after showering or bathing. Allow the medicine to dry for at least 5 minutes before you dress. Avoid showering, swimming or bathing for at least 2 hours after you application.
Cover treated skin areas with clothing to keep from getting this medicine on other people. If someone else does come into contact with a treated skin area, they must wash the contact area right away with soap and water.
While using AndroGel, you may need frequent blood tests.
Use AndroGel regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What other drugs will affect AndroGel?
Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using during your treatment with AndroGel, especially:
a blood thinner; (warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven); or
a steroid medicine; methylprednisolone (Medrol), prednisone (Sterapred), and others.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with testosterone, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.