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

5.8 Renal Toxicity

Methotrexate can cause renal toxicity, including irreversible acute renal failure [see Adverse Reactions (6.2)] .

Monitor renal function at baseline, periodically during treatment and as clinically indicated. Withhold or discontinue methotrexate tablets for severe renal toxicity taking into account the importance of methotrexate tablet treatment in the context of the severity of the disease being treated, the severity of the adverse drug reaction, and availability of alternative therapy [see Dosage and Administration (2.6)] .

Administer glucarpidase in patients with toxic plasma methotrexate concentrations (> 1 micromole per liter) and delayed methotrexate clearance due to impaired renal function. Refer to the glucarpidase prescribing information for additional information.

5.9 Risk of Serious Adverse Reactions with Medication Error

Deaths occurred in patients as a result of medication errors. Most commonly, these errors occurred in patients who were taking methotrexate daily when a weekly dosing regimen was prescribed.

For patients prescribed a once weekly dosing regimen, instruct patients and caregivers to take the recommended dosage as directed, because medication errors have led to death.

5.10 Folic Acid Supplementation

Neoplastic Diseases

Products containing folic acid or its derivatives may decrease the clinical effectiveness of methotrexate. Therefore, instruct patients not to take products containing folic acid or folinic acid unless directed to do so by their healthcare provider.

Non-neoplastic Diseases

Folate deficiency may increase methotrexate adverse reactions. Administer folic acid or folinic acid for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, pJIA, and psoriasis [see Dosage and Administration (2.3, 2.4, 2.5)] .

5.11 Serious Infections

Patients treated with methotrexate are at increased risk for developing life-threatening or fatal bacterial, fungal, or viral infections, including opportunistic infections such as Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia, invasive fungal infections, hepatitis B reactivation, tuberculosis primary infection or reactivation, and disseminated Herpes zoster and cytomegalovirus infections [see Adverse Reactions (6.2)] .

Monitor patients for infection during and after treatment with methotrexate tablets. Withhold or discontinue methotrexate tablets for serious infections taking into account the importance of methotrexate tablet treatment in the context of the severity of the disease being treated, the severity of the adverse drug reaction, and availability of alternative therapy [see Dosage and Administration (2.6)] .

5.12 Neurotoxicity

Methotrexate can cause severe acute and chronic neurotoxicity, which can be progressive, irreversible, and fatal [see Adverse Reactions (6.2)] . The risk of leukoencephalopathy is increased in patients who received prior cranial radiation.

Monitor patients for neurotoxicity and withhold or discontinue methotrexate tablets taking into account the importance of methotrexate tablet treatment in the context of the severity of the disease being treated, the severity of the adverse drug reaction, and availability of alternative therapy [see Dosage and Administration (2.6)] .

5.13 Secondary Malignancies

Secondary malignancies can occur with methotrexate [see Adverse Reactions (6.2)] . The risk of cutaneous malignancies is further increased when cyclosporine is administered to patients with psoriasis who received prior methotrexate.

In some cases, lymphoproliferative disease occurring during therapy with low-dose methotrexate regressed completely following withdrawal of methotrexate. If lymphoproliferative disease occurs, discontinue methotrexate tablets [see Dosage and Administration (2.6)] .

5.14 Tumor Lysis Syndrome

Methotrexate can induce tumor lysis syndrome in patients with rapidly growing tumors. Institute appropriate prophylactic measures in patients at risk for tumor lysis syndrome prior to initiation of methotrexate tablets.

5.15 Immunization and Risks Associated with Live Vaccines

Disseminated infections following administration of live vaccines have been reported. Immunization with live vaccines is not recommended during treatment. Follow current vaccination practice guidelines for administration of immunizations in patients receiving methotrexate tablets.

Update immunizations according to immunization guidelines prior to initiating methotrexate tablets. The interval between live vaccinations and initiation of methotrexate should be in accordance with current vaccination guidelines regarding immunosuppressive agents.

5.16 Infertility

Based on published reports, methotrexate can cause impairment of fertility, oligospermia, and menstrual dysfunction. It is not known if the infertility may be reversible. Discuss the risk of infertility with females and males of reproductive potential [see Use in Specific Populations (8.3)] .

5.17 Increased Risk of Adverse Reactions Due to Third-Space Accumulation

Methotrexate accumulates in third-spaces (e.g., pleural effusions or ascites), which results in prolonged elimination and increases the risk of adverse reactions. Evacuate significant third-space accumulations prior to methotrexate tablets administration taking into account the importance of methotrexate tablet treatment in the context of the severity of the disease being treated, the severity of the adverse drug reaction, and availability of alternative therapy.


The following clinically significant adverse reactions are described elsewhere in the labeling:

6.1 Clinical Trials Experience

Because clinical trials and other studies are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.

Common adverse reactions were: ulcerative stomatitis, leukopenia, nausea, and abdominal distress. Other clinically relevant adverse reactions were infection, malaise, fatigue, chills, fever, and dizziness.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

The most common adverse reactions of methotrexate that exceeded the rate of placebo in 12- to 18-week double-blind studies in patients (n=128) with rheumatoid arthritis are listed below. Patients received methotrexate 7.5 to 15 mg orally once weekly. Most patients received concomitant nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and some also received corticosteroids. Hepatic histology was not examined in these short-term studies.

Incidence ≥ 10%: Elevated liver tests 15%, nausea/vomiting 10%

Incidence 3% to < 10%: Stomatitis, thrombocytopenia (platelet count < 100,000/mm 3)

Incidence 1% to < 3%: Rash/pruritus/dermatitis, diarrhea, alopecia, leukopenia (white blood cell count < 3000/mm 3), pancytopenia, dizziness

Two other controlled trials of patients (n=680) with rheumatoid arthritis who received methotrexate 7.5 mg to 15 mg orally once weekly showed the following serious adverse reaction:

Incidence 1%: Interstitial pneumonitis

Other less common adverse reactions were: anemia, headache, upper respiratory infection, anorexia, arthralgias, chest pain, coughing, dysuria, eye discomfort, epistaxis, fever, infection, sweating, tinnitus, vaginal discharge.

Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (pJIA)

The most common adverse reactions reported in patients 2 to 18 years of age with pJIA treated with methotrexate 5 mg/m 2 to 20 mg/m 2 orally once weekly or 0.1 to 0.65 mg/kg orally once weekly were as follows: elevated liver tests 14%; gastrointestinal reactions (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) 11%; stomatitis 2%; leukopenia 2%; headache 1.2%; alopecia 0.5%; dizziness 0.2%; rash 0.2%. Most patients received concomitant NSAIDs and some also received corticosteroids.


In two published series of adults with psoriasis (n=204, 248) who received methotrexate up to 25 mg per week for up to 4 years, adverse reaction rates were similar to those in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, except for alopecia, photosensitivity, and “burning of skin lesions” (3% to 10% each). Painful plaque erosions have been reported.

6.2 Postmarketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during post approval use of methotrexate. 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

Cardiovascular: Thromboembolic events (including arterial thrombosis, cerebral thrombosis, deep vein thrombosis, retinal vein thrombosis, thrombophlebitis, and pulmonary embolus), pericarditis, pericardial effusion, hypotension, sudden death

Endocrine: Diabetes

Eye: Optic neuropathy, blurred vision, ocular pain, conjunctivitis, xerophthalmia

Gastrointestinal: Hemorrhagic enteritis, intestinal perforation, gingivitis, pancreatitis, pharyngitis, hematemesis, melena, gastrointestinal ulceration

Hematology: Aplastic anemia, lymphadenopathy, hypogammaglobulinemia

Hepatobiliary: Acute hepatitis, decreased serum albumin, fibrosis, cirrhosis Immune system: Anaphylaxis, anaphylactoid reactions, vasculitis

Metabolism: Hyperglycemia

Musculoskeletal: Stress fracture, soft tissue and bone necrosis, arthralgia, myalgia, osteoporosis

Nervous system: Headaches, drowsiness, blurred vision, speech impairment (including dysarthria and aphasia), transient cognitive dysfunction, mood alteration, unusual cranial sensations, paresis, encephalopathy, and convulsions.

Renal: Azotemia, hematuria, proteinuria, cystitis

Reproductive: Defective oogenesis or spermatogenesis, loss of libido, impotence, gynecomastia, menstrual dysfunction

Respiratory: Pulmonary fibrosis, respiratory failure, chronic interstitial obstructive pulmonary disease, pleuritic pain and thickening, alveolitis

Skin: Toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, exfoliative dermatitis, skin necrosis, and erythema multiforme, erythematous rashes, pruritus, alopecia, skin ulceration, accelerated nodulosis, urticaria, pigmentary changes, ecchymosis, telangiectasia, photosensitivity, acne, furunculosis

To report SUSPECTED ADVERSE REACTIONS contact AvKARE at 1-855-361-3993; email; or FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or


7.1 Effects of Other Drugs on Methotrexate

Drugs that Increase Methotrexate Exposure

Co-administration of methotrexate with the following products may increase methotrexate plasma concentrations, which may increase the risk of methotrexate severe adverse reactions. In some cases, the co-administration of methotrexate with these products may also subsequently reduce active metabolite formation, which may decrease the clinical effectiveness of methotrexate. Increased organ specific adverse reactions may also occur when methotrexate is Co-administered with hepatotoxic or nephrotoxic products.

If co-administration cannot be avoided, monitor closely for methotrexate adverse reactions when co-administered with:

  • Oral antibiotics (including neomycin)
  • Antifolate drugs (e.g., dapsone, pemetrexed, pyrimethamine and sulfonamides)
  • Oral or intravenous penicillin or sulfonamide antibiotics
  • Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Hepatotoxic products
  • Highly protein-bound drugs (e.g., oral anticoagulants, phenytoin, salicylates, sulfonamides, sulfonylureas, and tetracyclines)
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Probenecid
  • Weak acids (e.g., salicylates)

  • Nephrotoxic products

Nitrous Oxide

Co-administration of methotrexate with nitrous oxide anesthesia potentiates the effect of methotrexate on folate-dependent metabolic pathways, which may increase the risk of severe methotrexate adverse reactions. Avoid nitrous oxide anesthesia in patients receiving methotrexate. Consider alternative therapies in patients who have received prior nitrous oxide anesthesia.

Folic Acid

Co-administration of methotrexate with folic acid or its derivatives decreases the clinical effectiveness of methotrexate in patients with neoplastic diseases. Methotrexate competes with reduced folates for active transport across cell membranes. Instruct patients to take folic or folinic acid only as directed by their healthcare provider [see Warnings and Precautions (5.10)] .


8.1 Pregnancy

Risk Summary

Methotrexate tablets are contraindicated in pregnant women with non-neoplastic diseases [see Contraindications (4)] .

Based on published reports and its mechanism of action [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.1)] , methotrexate can cause embryo-fetal toxicity and fetal death when administered to a pregnant woman. There are no animal data that meet current standards for nonclinical developmental toxicity studies. Advise pregnant women with neoplastic diseases of the potential risk to a fetus.

In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2% to 4% and 15% to 20%, respectively.


Human Data

Published data from case reports, literature reviews, and observational studies report that methotrexate exposure during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of embryo-fetal toxicity and fetal death. Methotrexate exposure during the first trimester of pregnancy is associated with an increased incidence of spontaneous abortions and multiple adverse developmental outcomes, including skull anomalies, facial dysmorphism, central nervous system abnormalities, limb abnormalities, and sometimes cardiac anomalies and intellectual impairment. Adverse outcomes associated with exposure during second and third trimesters of pregnancy include intrauterine growth restriction and functional abnormalities. Because methotrexate is widely distributed and persists in the body for a prolonged period, there is a potential risk to the fetus from preconception methotrexate exposure.

A prospective multicenter study evaluated pregnancy outcomes in women taking methotrexate less than or equal to 30 mg/week after conception. The rate of spontaneous abortion and miscarriage in pregnant women exposed to methotrexate was 42% (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 29, 59), which was higher than in unexposed patients with autoimmune disease (22%; 95% CI: 17, 30) and unexposed patients with nonautoimmune disease (17%; 95% CI: 13, 23). Of the live births, the rate of major birth defects in pregnant women exposed to methotrexate after conception was higher than in unexposed patients with autoimmune disease (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.8 [95% CI: 0.6, 6]) and unexposed patients with non-autoimmune disease (adjusted OR 3.1 [95% CI: 1, 10]) (2.9%). Major birth defects associated with pregnancies exposed to methotrexate after conception were not always consistent with methotrexate-associated adverse developmental outcomes. 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 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.

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