Cesamet: Package Insert and Label Information (Page 2 of 3)

Pregnancy: Teratogenic Effects. Pregnancy Category C

Teratology studies conducted in pregnant rats at doses up to 12 mg/kg/day (about 16 times the human dose on a body surface area basis) and in pregnant rabbits at doses up to 3.3 mg/kg/day (about 9 times the human dose on a body surface area basis) did not disclose any evidence for a teratogenic potential of nabilone. However, there was dose related developmental toxicity in both species as evidenced by increases in embryo lethality, fetal resorptions, decreased fetal weights and pregnancy disruptions. In rats, postnatal developmental toxicity was also observed. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Because animal studies cannot rule out the possibility of harm, Cesamet should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether this drug is excreted in breast milk. Because many drugs including some cannabinoids are excreted in breast milk it is not recommended that Cesamet be given to nursing mothers.

Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness have not been established in patients younger than 18 years of age. Caution is recommended in prescribing Cesamet to children because of psychoactive effects.

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of Cesamet did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy. Cesamet should be used with caution in elderly patients aged 65 and over because they are generally more sensitive to the psychoactive effects of drugs and Cesamet can elevate supine and standing heart rates and cause postural hypotension.


To report SUSPECTED ADVERSE REACTIONS, contact Meda Pharmaceuticals Inc. at 1-800-723-1400 or FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch .

Commonly Encountered Reactions: During controlled clinical trials of Cesamet, virtually all patients experienced at least one adverse reaction. The most commonly encountered events were drowsiness, vertigo, dry mouth, euphoria (feeling “high”), ataxia, headache, and concentration difficulties.

Comparative Incidence of Reactions: Accurate estimates of the incidence of adverse events associated with the use of any drug are difficult to obtain. Estimates are influenced by factors such as drug dose, detection technique, setting, and physician judgments, among others. Consequently, the tables presented below are presented solely to indicate the relative frequency of adverse events reported in representative controlled clinical studies conducted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Cesamet under relatively similar conditions of use. The figures cited cannot be used to predict precisely the incidence of untoward events in the course of usual medical practice, in which patient characteristics and other factors may differ from those that prevailed in the clinical trials. These incidence figures also cannot be compared with those obtained from other clinical studies involving related drug products because each group of drug trials is conducted under a different set of conditions.

Finally, it is important to emphasize that these tabulations do not reflect the relative severity and/or clinical importance of the adverse events. A better perspective on the serious adverse events associated with the use of Cesamet is provided in the WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS sections.

The following tables list in order of decreasing frequency the adverse reactions encountered by a substantial proportion of patients treated with Cesamet participating in representative controlled clinical trials.

Incidence of Adverse Reactions in Placebo-Controlled Studies
Nabilone (n=132) Placebo (n=119)
Adverse Event Patients Percent Patients Percent
Vertigo 69 52 3 3
Drowsiness 69 52 6 5
Dry Mouth 47 36 2 2
Ataxia 19 14 0 0
Euphoria 14 11 1 1
Sleep Disturbance 14 11 1 1
Dysphoria 12 9 0 0
Headache 8 6 0 0
Nausea 5 4 0 0
Disorientation 3 2 0 0
Depersonalization 2 2 1 1
Incidence of Adverse Reactions in Active-Controlled Studies
Nabilone (n=250) Prochlorperazine (n=232)
Adverse Event Patients Percent Patients Percent
Drowsiness 165 66 108 47
Vertigo/Dizziness 147 59 53 23
Euphoria 95 38 12 5
Dry Mouth 54 22 11 5
Depression 35 14 37 16
Ataxia 32 13 4 2
Visual Disturbance 32 13 9 4
Concentration Difficulties 31 12 3 1
Hypotension 20 8 3 1
Asthenia 19 8 10 4
Anorexia 19 8 22 9
Headache 18 7 14 6
Sedation 7 3 2 1
Increased Appetite 6 2 2 1

Adverse Reactions by Body System —The following list of adverse events is organized by decreasing frequency within body systems for patients treated with Cesamet in controlled clinical trials. All events are listed regardless of causality assessment.

Blood and Hematopoietic —Anemia

Cardiovascular —Orthostatic hypotension, hypotension, tachycardia, syncope, palpitation, flushing, hypertension, arrhythmia, and cerebral vascular accident.

Eye and Ear —Vision disturbance, ear tightness, eye irritation, eye dryness, equilibrium dysfunction, tinnitus, eye disorder, amblyopia, eye swelling, eyelid diseases, pupil dilation, photophobia, and visual field defect.

Gastrointestinal —Dry mouth, nausea, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation, aphthous ulcer, mouth irritation, gastritis, and dyspepsia.

Genitourinary —Increased urination, decreased urination, hot flashes, urinary retention, and frequency of micturition.

Infection —Bacterial infection

Metabolic and Endocrine —Thirst

Musculoskeletal —Muscle pain, back pain, neck pain, joint pain, and unspecified pain.

Nervous System —Drowsiness, vertigo, ataxia, decreased concentration, sedation, hallucinations, paresthesia, tremor, memory disturbance, perception disturbance, convulsions, dystonia, numbness, and akathisia.

Psychiatric —Euphoria (feeling “high”), sleep disturbance, depression, confusion, disorientation, anxiety, depersonalization syndrome, speech disorder, abnormal dreams, insomnia, mood swings, inebriated feeling, toxic psychosis, paranoia, apathy, thought disorder, withdrawal, panic disorder, phobic neurosis, emotional disorder, and hyperactivity.

Respiratory —Dyspnea, pharyngitis, nasal congestion, sinus headache, thick tongue, dry throat, dry nose, wheezing, nosebleed, cough, voice change, and chest pain.

Skin and Appendages —Anhidrosis, photosensitivity, pruritus, rash, and allergic reactions.

Miscellaneous and Ill-Defined Conditions —Headache, fatigue, lightheadedness, coordination disturbance, asthesia, dysphoria, dizziness, taste change, excessive appetite, chills, excessive sweating, nervousness, malaise, postural dizziness, twitch, irritability, fever, inhibited walking, unconsciousness, hypotonia, and impaired urination.

Postmarketing Adverse Reactions —Cesamet has been marketed internationally since 1982. The following adverse reactions listed in order of decreasing frequency by body system have been reported since Cesamet has been marketed. All events are listed regardless of causality assessment.

Blood and Hematopoietic —Leukopenia

Cardiovascular —Hypotension and tachycardia

Eye and Ear —Visual disturbances

Gastrointestinal —Dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, and constipation

Nervous System —Hallucinations, CNS depression, CNS stimulation, ataxia, stupor, vertigo, convulsion, and circumoral paresthesia

Psychiatric —Somnolence, confusion, euphoria, depression, dysphoria, depersonalization, anxiety, psychosis, and emotional lability

Miscellaneous and Ill-Defined Conditions —Dizziness, headache, insomnia, abnormal thinking, chest pain, lack of effect, and face edema


Controlled Substance —Cesamet, a synthetic cannabinoid pharmacologically related to Cannabis sativa L. (Marijuana; (delta-9-THC) is a highly abusable substance. Cesamet is controlled under Schedule II (CII) of the Controlled Substances Act. Prescriptions for Cesamet should be limited to the amount necessary for a single cycle of chemotherapy (i.e., a few days). Cesamet may produce subjective side effects which may be interpreted as a euphoria or marijuana-like “high” at therapeutic doses.

It is not known what proportion of individuals exposed chronically to Cesamet or other cannabinoids will develop either psychological or physical dependence. Long term use of these compounds has, however, been associated with disorders of motivation, judgment, and cognition. It is not clear, though, if this is a manifestation of the underlying personalities of chronic users of this class of drugs or if cannabinoids are directly responsible for these effects. An abstinence syndrome has been reported following discontinuation of delta-9-THC at high doses of 200 mg per day for 12 to 16 consecutive days. The acute phase was characterized by psychic distress, insomnia, and signs of autonomic hyperactivity (sweating, rhinorrhea, loose stools, hiccups). A protracted abstinence phase may have occurred in subjects who reported sleep disturbances for several weeks after delta-9-THC discontinuation.

Abuse —Cesamet may produce subjective side effects that may be interpreted as a euphoria or marijuana-like “high” at therapeutic doses. Cesamet was shown to be qualitatively and quantitatively similar to delta-9-THC in the production of cannabis-like effects, thus demonstrating that Cesamet has a high potential for abuse.

Preclinical studies performed in both dogs and monkeys demonstrated that Cesamet was cannabinoid-like. As with delta-9-THC, tolerance develops rapidly to the pharmacological effects in both the dog and the monkey. Cross-tolerance between Cesamet and delta-9-THC was demonstrated in the monkey.

Dependence —The physical dependence capacity of Cesamet is unknown at this time. Patients who participated in clinical trials of up to 5 days’ duration evidenced no withdrawal symptoms on cessation of dosing.


Signs and Symptoms —Signs and symptoms of overdosage are an extension of the psychotomimetic and physiologic effects of Cesamet.

Treatment —To obtain up-to-date information about the treatment of overdose, a good resource is your certified Regional Poison Control Center. Telephone numbers of certified poison control centers are listed in the Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR). In managing overdosage, consider the possibility of multiple drug overdoses, interaction among drugs, and unusual drug kinetics in your patient.

Overdosage may be considered to have occurred, even at prescribed dosages, if disturbing psychiatric symptoms are present. In these cases, the patient should be observed in a quiet environment and supportive measures, including reassurance, should be used. Subsequent doses should be withheld until patients have returned to their baseline mental status; routine dosing may then be resumed if clinically indicated. In such instances, a lower initiating dose is suggested. In controlled clinical trials, alterations in mental status related to the use of Cesamet resolved within 72 hours without specific medical therapy.

In overdose settings, attention should be paid to vital signs, since both hypertension and hypotension have been known to occur; tachycardia and orthostatic hypotension were most commonly reported.

No cases of overdosage with more than 10 mg/day of nabilone were reported during clinical trials. Signs and symptoms that would be expected to occur in large overdose situations are psychotic episodes, including hallucinations, anxiety reactions, respiratory depression, and coma.

If psychotic episodes occur, the patient should be managed conservatively, if possible. For moderate psychotic episodes and anxiety reactions, verbal support and comforting may be sufficient. In more severe cases, antipsychotic drugs may be useful; however, the utility of antipsychotic drugs in cannabinoid psychosis has not been systematically evaluated. Support for their use is drawn from limited experience using antipsychotic agents to manage cannabis overdoses. Because of the potential for drug-drug interactions (e.g., additive CNS depressant effects due to nabilone and chlorpromazine), such patients should be closely monitored.

Protect the patient’s airway and support ventilation and perfusion. Meticulously monitor and maintain, within acceptable limits, the patient’s vital signs, blood gases, serum electrolytes, as well as other laboratory values and physical assessments. Absorption of drugs from the gastrointestinal tract may be decreased by giving activated charcoal, which, in many cases, is more effective than emesis or lavage; consider charcoal instead of or in addition to gastric emptying. Repeated doses of charcoal over time may hasten elimination of some drugs that have been absorbed. Safeguard the patient’s airway when employing gastric emptying or charcoal.

The use of forced diuresis, peritoneal dialysis, hemodialysis, charcoal hemoperfusion, or cholestyramine has not been reported. In the presence of normal renal function, most of a dose of nabilone is eliminated through the biliary system.

Treatment for respiratory depression and comatose state consists in symptomatic and supportive therapy. Particular attention should be paid to the occurrence of hypothermia. If the patient becomes hypotensive, consider fluids, inotropes, and/or vasopressors.

The estimated oral median lethal dose in female mice is between 1,000 and 2,000 mg/kg; in the female rat, it is greater than 2,000 mg/kg, (See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY).

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