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Newly Transplanted Patients

The initial oral dose of Neoral can be given 4-12 hours prior to transplantation or be given postoperatively. The initial dose of Neoral varies depending on the transplanted organ and the other immunosuppressive agents included in the immunosuppressive protocol. In newly transplanted patients, the initial oral dose of Neoral is the same as the initial oral dose of Sandimmune. Suggested initial doses are available from the results of a 1994 survey of the use of Sandimmune in US transplant centers. The mean ± SD initial doses were 9±3 mg/kg/day for renal transplant patients (75 centers), 8±4 mg/kg/day for liver transplant patients (30 centers), and 7±3 mg/kg/day for heart transplant patients (24 centers). Total daily doses were divided into two equal daily doses. The Neoral dose is subsequently adjusted to achieve a pre-defined cyclosporine blood concentration. (See Blood Concentration Monitoring in Transplant Patients, below) If cyclosporine trough blood concentrations are used, the target range is the same for Neoral as for Sandimmune. Using the same trough concentration target range for Neoral as for Sandimmune results in greater cyclosporine exposure when Neoral is administered. Dosing should be titrated based on clinical assessments of rejection and tolerability. Lower Neoral doses may be sufficient as maintenance therapy.

Adjunct therapy with adrenal corticosteroids is recommended initially. Different tapering dosage schedules of prednisone appear to achieve similar results. A representative dosage schedule based on the patient's weight started with 2.0 mg/kg/day for the first 4 days tapered to 1.0 mg/kg/day by 1 week, 0.6 mg/kg/day by 2 weeks, 0.3 mg/kg/day by 1 month, and 0.15 mg/kg/day by 2 months and thereafter as a maintenance dose. Steroid doses may be further tapered on an individualized basis depending on status of patient and function of graft. Adjustments in dosage of prednisone must be made according to the clinical situation.

Conversion from Sandimmune to Neoral in Transplant Patients

In transplanted patients who are considered for conversion to Neoral from Sandimmune, Neoral should be started with the same daily dose as was previously used with Sandimmune (1:1 dose conversion). The Neoral dose should subsequently be adjusted to attain the pre-conversion cyclosporine blood trough concentration. Using the same trough concentration target range for Neoral as for Sandimmune results in greater cyclosporine exposure when Neoral is administered. Patients with suspected poor absorption of Sandimmune require different dosing strategies. In some patients, the increase in blood trough concentration is more pronounced and may be of clinical significance.

Until the blood trough concentration attains the pre-conversion value, it is strongly recommended that the cyclosporine blood trough concentration be monitored every 4 to 7 days after conversion to Neoral. In addition, clinical safety parameters such as serum creatinine and blood pressure should be monitored every two weeks during the first two months after conversion. If the blood trough concentrations are outside the desired range and/or if the clinical safety parameters worsen, the dosage of Neoral must be adjusted accordingly.

Transplant Patients with Poor Absorption of Sandimmune

Patients with lower than expected cyclosporine blood trough concentrations in relation to the oral dose of Sandimmune may have poor or inconsistent absorption of cyclosporine from Sandimmune. After conversion to Neoral, patients tend to have higher cyclosporine concentrations. Due to the increase in bioavailability of cyclosporine following conversion to Neoral, the cyclosporine blood trough concentration may exceed the target range. Particular caution should be exercised when converting patients to Neoral at doses greater than 10 mg/kg/day. The dose of Neoral (Cyclosporine) should be titrated individually based on cyclosporine trough concentrations, tolerability, and clinical response. In this population the cyclosporine blood trough concentration should be measured more frequently, at least twice a week (daily, if initial dose exceeds 10 mg/kg/day) until the concentration stabilizes within the desired range.

Blood Concentration Monitoring in Transplant Patients

Transplant centers have found blood concentration monitoring of cyclosporine to be an essential component of patient management. Of importance to blood concentration analysis are the type of assay used, the transplanted organ, and other immunosuppressant agents being administered. While no fixed relationship has been established, blood concentration monitoring may assist in the clinical evaluation of rejection and toxicity, dose adjustments, and the assessment of compliance.

Various assays have been used to measure blood concentrations of cyclosporine. Older studies using a nonspecific assay often cited concentrations that were roughly twice those of the specific assays. Therefore, comparison between concentrations in the published literature and an individual patient concentration using current assays must be made with detailed knowledge of the assay methods employed. Current assay results are also not interchangeable and their use should be guided by their approved labeling. While several assays and assay matrices are available, there is a consensus that parent-compound-specific assays correlate best with clinical events. Of these, HPLC is the standard reference, but the monoclonal antibody RIAs and the monoclonal antibody FPIA offer sensitivity, reproducibility, and convenience. Most clinicians base their monitoring on trough cyclosporine concentrations. Applied Pharmacokinetics, Principles of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (1992) contains a broad discussion of cyclosporine pharmacokinetics and drug monitoring techniques. Blood concentration monitoring is not a replacement for renal function monitoring or tissue biopsies.

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