Exemestane: Package Insert and Label Information (Page 2 of 5)

6.2 Post-Marketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during post approval use of exemestane. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

Immune system disorders — hypersensitivity

Hepatobiliary disorders — hepatitis including cholestatic hepatitis

Nervous system disorders- paresthesia

Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorder -tenosynovitis stenosans

Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders- acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis, urticaria, pruritus


Drugs That Induce CYP 3A4

Co-medications that induce CYP 3A4 (e.g., rifampicin, phenytoin, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, or St. John’s wort) may significantly decrease exposure to exemestane. Dose modification is recommended for patients who are also receiving a strong CYP 3A4 inducer [see Dosage and Administration (2.2) and Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].


8.1 Pregnancy

Risk Summary

Based on findings in animal studies and its mechanism of action, exemestane can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.1)]. Limited human data from case reports are insufficient to inform a drug-associated risk. In animal reproduction studies, administration of exemestane to pregnant rats and rabbits caused increased incidence of abortions, embryo-fetal toxicity, and prolonged gestation with abnormal or difficult labor [ see Data]. Advise pregnant women of the potential risk to a fetus.

The estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population is unknown. In the US general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2–4% and 15–20%, respectively.


Animal Data

In animal reproduction studies in rats and rabbits, exemestane caused embryo-fetal toxicity, and was abortifacient. Radioactivity related to 14 C-exemestane crossed the placenta of rats following oral administration of 1 mg/kg exemestane. The concentration of exemestane and its metabolites was approximately equivalent in maternal and fetal blood. When rats were administered exemestane from 14 days prior to mating until either days 15 or 20 of gestation, and resuming for the 21 days of lactation, an increase in placental weight was seen at 4 mg/kg/day (approximately 1.5 times the recommended human daily dose on a mg/m2 basis). Increased resorptions, reduced number of live fetuses, decreased fetal weight, retarded ossification, prolonged gestation and abnormal or difficult labor was observed at doses equal to or greater than 20 mg/kg/day (approximately 7.5 times the recommended human daily dose on a mg/m2 basis). Daily doses of exemestane, given to rabbits during organogenesis, caused a decrease in placental weight at 90 mg/kg/day (approximately 70 times the recommended human daily dose on a mg/m2 basis) and in the presence of maternal toxicity, abortions, an increase in resorptions, and a reduction in fetal body weight were seen at 270 mg/kg/day. No malformations were noted when exemestane was administered to pregnant rats or rabbits during the organogenesis period at doses up to 810 and 270 mg/kg/day, respectively (approximately 320 and 210 times the recommended human dose on a mg/m2 basis, respectively).

8.2 Lactation

Risk Summary

There is no information on the presence of exemestane in human milk, or on its effects on the breastfed infant or milk production. Exemestane is present in rat milk at concentrations similar to maternal plasma [see Data]. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in breast-fed infants from exemestane, advise a woman not to breastfeed during treatment with exemestane and for 1 month after the final dose.


Radioactivity related to exemestane appeared in rat milk within 15 minutes of oral administration of radiolabeled exemestane. Concentrations of exemestane and its metabolites were approximately equivalent in the milk and plasma of rats for 24 hours after a single oral dose of 1 mg/kg 14 C-exemestane.

8.3 Females and Males of Reproductive Potential

Pregnancy Testing

Pregnancy testing is recommended for females of reproductive potential within seven days prior to initiating exemestane.



Exemestane can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1)]. Advise females of reproductive potential to use effective contraception during treatment with exemestane and for 1 month after the final dose.


Based on findings in animals, male and female fertility may be impaired by treatment with exemestane [see Nonclinical Toxicology (13.1)].

8.4 Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.

8.6 Hepatic Impairment

The AUC of exemestane was increased in subjects with moderate or severe hepatic impairment (Childs-Pugh B or C) [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)]. However, based on experience with exemestane at repeated doses up to 200 mg daily that demonstrated a moderate increase in non life-threatening adverse reactions, dosage adjustment does not appear to be necessary.

8.7 Renal Impairment

The AUC of exemestane was increased in subjects with moderate or severe renal impairment (creatinine clearance < 35 mL/min/1.73 m2) [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)]. However, based on experience with exemestane at repeated doses up to 200 mg daily that demonstrated a moderate increase in non life-threatening adverse reactions, dosage adjustment does not appear to be necessary.


Clinical trials have been conducted with exemestane given as a single dose to healthy female volunteers at doses as high as 800 mg and daily for 12 weeks to postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer at doses as high as 600 mg. These dosages were well tolerated. There is no specific antidote to overdosage and treatment must be symptomatic. General supportive care, including frequent monitoring of vital signs and close observation of the patient, is indicated.

A male child (age unknown) accidentally ingested a 25-mg tablet of exemestane. The initial physical examination was normal, but blood tests performed 1 hour after ingestion indicated leucocytosis (WBC 25000/mm3 with 90% neutrophils). Blood tests were repeated 4 days after the incident and were normal. No treatment was given.

In mice, mortality was observed after a single oral dose of exemestane of 3200 mg/kg, the lowest dose tested (about 640 times the recommended human dose on a mg/m2 basis). In rats and dogs, mortality was observed after single oral doses of exemestane of 5000 mg/kg (about 2000 times the recommended human dose on a mg/m2 basis) and of 3000 mg/kg (about 4000 times the recommended human dose on a mg/m2 basis), respectively.

Convulsions were observed after single doses of exemestane of 400 mg/kg and 3000 mg/kg in mice and dogs (approximately 80 and 4000 times the recommended human dose on a mg/m2 basis), respectively.


Exemestane Tablets, USP for oral administration contain 25 mg of exemestane, USP, an irreversible, steroidal aromatase inactivator. Exemestane, USP is chemically described as 6-methylenandrosta-1,4-diene-3,17-dione. Its molecular formula is C20 H24 O2 and its structural formula is as follows:

Chemical Structure

The active ingredient is a white or almost white crystalline powder with a molecular weight of 296.41. Exemestane, USP is freely soluble in N, N-dimethylformamide, soluble in methanol, and practically insoluble in water.

Each Exemestane Tablet, USP contains the following inactive ingredients: mannitol, polysorbate 80, hypromellose, colloidal silicon dioxide, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium starch glycolate, magnesium stearate, talc, polyethylene glycol 3350, titanium dioxide, and polyvinyl alcohol.


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Breast cancer cell growth may be estrogen-dependent. Aromatase is the principal enzyme that converts androgens to estrogens both in pre- and postmenopausal women. While the main source of estrogen (primarily estradiol) is the ovary in premenopausal women, the principal source of circulating estrogens in postmenopausal women is from conversion of adrenal and ovarian androgens (androstenedione and testosterone) to estrogens (estrone and estradiol) by the aromatase enzyme in peripheral tissues.

Exemestane is an irreversible, steroidal aromatase inactivator, structurally related to the natural substrate androstenedione. It acts as a false substrate for the aromatase enzyme, and is processed to an intermediate that binds irreversibly to the active site of the enzyme, causing its inactivation, an effect also known as “suicide inhibition.” Exemestane significantly lowers circulating estrogen concentrations in postmenopausal women, but has no detectable effect on adrenal biosynthesis of corticosteroids or aldosterone. Exemestane has no effect on other enzymes involved in the steroidogenic pathway up to a concentration at least 600 times higher than that inhibiting the aromatase enzyme.

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

Effect on Estrogens

Multiple doses of exemestane ranging from 0.5 to 600 mg/day were administered to postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer. Plasma estrogen (estradiol, estrone, and estrone sulfate) suppression was seen starting at a 5-mg daily dose of exemestane, with a maximum suppression of at least 85% to 95% achieved at a 25-mg dose. Exemestane 25 mg daily reduced whole body aromatization (as measured by injecting radiolabeled androstenedione) by 98% in postmenopausal women with breast cancer. After a single dose of exemestane 25 mg, the maximal suppression of circulating estrogens occurred 2 to 3 days after dosing and persisted for 4 to 5 days.

Effect on Corticosteroids

In multiple-dose trials of doses up to 200 mg daily, exemestane selectivity was assessed by examining its effect on adrenal steroids. Exemestane did not affect cortisol or aldosterone secretion at baseline or in response to ACTH at any dose. Thus, no glucocorticoid or mineralocorticoid replacement therapy is necessary with exemestane treatment.

Other Endocrine Effects

Exemestane does not bind significantly to steroidal receptors, except for a slight affinity for the androgen receptor (0.28% relative to dihydrotestosterone). The binding affinity of its 17-dihydrometabolite for the androgen receptor, however, is 100 times that of the parent compound. Daily doses of exemestane up to 25 mg had no significant effect on circulating levels of androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, or 17-hydroxyprogesterone, and were associated with small decreases in circulating levels of testosterone. Increases in testosterone and androstenedione levels have been observed at daily doses of 200 mg or more. A dose-dependent decrease in sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) has been observed with daily exemestane doses of 2.5 mg or higher. Slight, nondose-dependent increases in serum luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels have been observed even at low doses as a consequence of feedback at the pituitary level. Exemestane 25 mg daily had no significant effect on thyroid function [free triiodothyronine (FT3), free thyroxine (FT4), and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)].

Coagulation and Lipid Effects

In study 027 of postmenopausal women with early breast cancer treated with exemestane (N=73) or placebo (N=73), there was no change in the coagulation parameters activated partial thromboplastin time [APTT], prothrombin time [PT], and fibrinogen. Plasma HDL cholesterol was decreased 6–9% in exemestane treated patients; total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, apolipoprotein-A1, apolipoprotein-B, and lipoprotein-a were unchanged. An 18% increase in homocysteine levels was also observed in exemestane treated patients compared with a 12% increase seen with placebo.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics

Following oral administration to healthy postmenopausal women, plasma concentrations of exemestane decline polyexponentially with a mean terminal half-life of about 24 hours. The pharmacokinetics of exemestane are dose proportional after single (10 to 200 mg) or repeated oral doses (0.5 to 50 mg). Following repeated daily doses of exemestane 25 mg, plasma concentrations of unchanged drug are similar to levels measured after a single dose.

Pharmacokinetic parameters in postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer following single or repeated doses have been compared with those in healthy, postmenopausal women. After repeated dosing, the average oral clearance in women with advanced breast cancer was 45% lower than the oral clearance in healthy postmenopausal women, with corresponding higher systemic exposure. Mean AUC values following repeated doses in women with breast cancer (75.4 ng∙h/mL) were about twice those in healthy women (41.4 ng∙h/mL).


Following oral administration, exemestane appeared to be absorbed more rapidly in women with breast cancer than in the healthy women, with a mean tmax of 1.2 hours in the women with breast cancer and 2.9 hours in healthy women. Approximately 42% of radiolabeled exemestane was absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. A high-fat breakfast increased AUC and Cmax of exemestane by 59% and 39%, respectively, compared to fasted state.


Exemestane is distributed extensively into tissues. Exemestane is 90% bound to plasma proteins and the fraction bound is independent of the total concentration. Albumin and α1 1-acid glycoprotein both contribute to the binding. The distribution of exemestane and its metabolites into blood cells is negligible.


Exemestane is extensively metabolized, with levels of the unchanged drug in plasma accounting for less than 10% of the total radioactivity. The initial steps in the metabolism of exemestane are oxidation of the methylene group in position 6 and reduction of the 17-keto group with subsequent formation of many secondary metabolites. Each metabolite accounts only for a limited amount of drug-related material. The metabolites are inactive or inhibit aromatase with decreased potency compared with the parent drug. One metabolite may have androgenic activity [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.2)]. Studies using human liver preparations indicate that cytochrome P 450 3A4 (CYP 3A4) is the principal isoenzyme involved in the oxidation of exemestane. Exemestane is metabolized also by aldoketoreductases.


Following administration of radiolabeled exemestane to healthy postmenopausal women, the cumulative amounts of radioactivity excreted in urine and feces were similar (42 ± 3% in urine and 42 ± 6% in feces over a 1-week collection period). The amount of drug excreted unchanged in urine was less than 1% of the dose.

Specific Populations

Geriatric: Healthy postmenopausal women aged 43 to 68 years were studied in the pharmacokinetic trials. Age-related alterations in exemestane pharmacokinetics were not seen over this age range.

Gender: The pharmacokinetics of exemestane following administration of a single, 25-mg tablet to fasted healthy males (mean age 32 years) were similar to the pharmacokinetics of exemestane in fasted healthy postmenopausal women (mean age 55 years).

Race: The influence of race on exemestane pharmacokinetics has not been evaluated.

Hepatic Impairment: The pharmacokinetics of exemestane have been investigated in subjects with moderate or severe hepatic impairment (Childs-Pugh B or C). Following a single 25-mg oral dose, the AUC of exemestane was approximately 3 times higher than that observed in healthy volunteers.

Renal Impairment: The AUC of exemestane after a single 25-mg dose was approximately 3 times higher in subjects with moderate or severe renal insufficiency (creatinine clearance < 35 mL/min/1.73 m2) compared with the AUC in healthy volunteers.

Pediatric: The pharmacokinetics of exemestane have not been studied in pediatric patients.

Drug Interaction Studies

Exemestane does not inhibit any of the major CYP isoenzymes, including CYP 1A2, 2C9, 2D6, 2E1, and 3A4.

In a pharmacokinetic interaction study of 10 healthy postmenopausal volunteers pretreated with potent CYP 3A4 inducer rifampicin 600 mg daily for 14 days followed by a single dose of exemestane 25 mg, the mean plasma Cmax and AUC 0– of exemestane were decreased by 41% and 54%, respectively [see Dosage and Administration (2.2) and Drug Interactions (7)].

In a clinical pharmacokinetic study, coadministration of ketoconazole, a potent inhibitor of CYP 3A4, has no significant effect on exemestane pharmacokinetics. Although no other formal drug-drug interaction studies with inhibitors have been conducted, significant effects on exemestane clearance by CYP isoenzyme inhibitors appear unlikely.

DrugInserts.com provides trustworthy package insert and label information about marketed drugs as submitted by manufacturers to the US Food and Drug Administration. Package information is not reviewed or updated separately by DrugInserts.com. Every individual package label entry contains a unique identifier which can be used to secure further details directly from the US National Institutes of Health and/or the FDA.

As the leading independent provider of trustworthy medication information, we source our database directly from the FDA's central repository of drug labels and package inserts under the Structured Product Labeling standard. Our material is not intended as a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified health professional.

Terms of Use | Copyright © 2022. All Rights Reserved.