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FDA Drug Safety Podcast for Healthcare Professionals: 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs) may increase the risk of a more serious form of prostate cancer

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Welcome, my name is Lindsay Davison a pharmacist in the Division of Drug Information. On June 9, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration issued a Drug Safety Communication informing healthcare professionals that the Warnings and Precautions section of the labels for the 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, or 5-ARI, class of drugs has been revised to include new safety information about the increased risk of being diagnosed with a more serious form of prostate cancer, or high-grade prostate cancer. This risk appears to be low, but healthcare professionals should be aware of this safety information, and weigh the known benefits against the potential risks when deciding to start or continue treatment with 5-ARIs in men.

The new safety information is based on FDA's review of two large, randomized controlled trials––the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial and the Reduction by Dutasteride of Prostate Cancer Events trial––which evaluated daily use of finasteride 5 mg versus placebo for 7 years and daily use of dutasteride 0.5 mg versus placebo for 4 years, respectively, for the reduction in the risk of prostate cancer in men at least 50 years of age. The trials demonstrated an overall reduction in prostate cancer diagnoses with finasteride 5 mg and dutasteride treatment. This overall reduction was due to a decreased incidence of lower risk forms of prostate cancer. However, both trials showed an increased incidence of high-grade prostate cancer with finasteride and dutasteride treatment.

At this time, FDA recommends that Healthcare Professionals:

  1. Be aware that 5-ARIs may increase the risk of high-grade prostate cancer.
  2. Perform appropriate evaluation prior to initiating therapy with 5-ARIs to rule out other urological conditions, including prostate cancer, that might mimic benign prostatic hyperplasia.
  3. Be aware that treatment with 5-ARIs causes an approximate 50% reduction in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) values by 6 months; however, individual patients receiving 5-ARIs may experience varying decreases in PSA values. Therefore, any confirmed increase in PSA while on a 5-ARI may signal the presence of prostate cancer and should be evaluated, even if that PSA is in the normal range of men not taking a 5-ARI.
  4. Know that 5-ARIs are not approved for the prevention of prostate cancer.
  5. Report any adverse events involving 5-ARIs to the FDA MedWatch program at www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Thank you for listening. The FDA is committed to keeping healthcare professionals informed of the latest safety information. Please read the Drug Safety Communication for the complete data summary, Questions and Answers, and background information detailing this communication. A link to this DSC can be found at www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety. If you have drug questions, you can reach us at druginfo@fda.hhs.gov.

 

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