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Estradiol and norethindrone combination is used to treat moderate to severe hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. It is also used to treat changes in and around the vagina (such as vaginal dryness, itching, and burning) caused by low estrogen levels or menopause. This medicine is also used to treat certain conditions in women before menopause if their ovaries do not make enough estrogens naturally, and prevent osteoporosis after menopause.
This medicine is a combination of two hormones: an estrogen hormone (estradiol) and a progestin hormone (norethindrone). It works by preventing symptoms, such as feelings of warmth in the face, neck, and chest, or sudden strong feelings of heat and sweating (hot flashes) in women during menopause.
This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.
This product is available in the following dosage forms:
What are Activella (estradiol and norethindrone)?
Estradiol is a form of estrogen, a female sex hormone that regulates many processes in the body.
Norethindrone is a form of progesterone, a female hormone important for regulating ovulation and menstruation.
Estradiol and norethindrone is a combination medicine used to treat menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal changes (itching, burning, dryness), and to prevent osteoporosis (bone loss) in menopausal women.
Estradiol and norethindrone may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
How should I take Activella (estradiol and norethindrone)?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger amounts or for longer than recommended.
If you need surgery or medical tests or if you will be on bed rest, you may need to stop using this medication for a short time. Any doctor or surgeon who treats you should know that you are using estradiol and norethindrone.
Your doctor should check your progress on a regular basis (every 3 to 6 months) to determine whether you should continue this treatment. Self-examine your breasts for lumps on a monthly basis and have a mammogram every year while using estradiol and norethindrone.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.
What are some other side effects of Activella?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
- Hair loss.
- Upset stomach or throwing up.
- Tender breasts.
- Enlarged breasts.
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting.
- This medicine may cause dark patches of skin on your face. Avoid sun, sunlamps, and tanning beds. Use sunscreen and wear clothing and eyewear that protects you from the sun.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
Indications and Usage for Activella
Treatment of Moderate to Severe Vasomotor Symptoms due to Menopause
Treatment of Moderate to Severe Symptoms of Vulvar and Vaginal Atrophy due to Menopause
Limitation of Use
When prescribing solely for the treatment of moderate to severe symptoms of vulvar and vaginal atrophy due to menopause, topical vaginal products should be considered.
Prevention of Postmenopausal Osteoporosis
Limitation of Use
When prescribing solely for the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis, therapy should only be considered for women at significant risk of osteoporosis and non-estrogen medication should be carefully considered.
Warnings and Precautions
An increased risk of PE, DVT, stroke and MI has been reported with estrogen plus progestin therapy. An increased risk of stroke and DVT has been reported with estrogen-alone therapy. Should any of these occur or be suspected, estrogen with or without progestin therapy should be discontinued immediately.
Risk factors for arterial vascular disease (for example, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, tobacco use, hypercholesterolemia, and obesity) and/or venous thromboembolism (VTE) (for example, personal history or family history of VTE, obesity, and systemic lupus erythematosus) should be managed appropriately.
In the WHI estrogen plus progestin substudy, a statistically significant increased risk of stroke was reported in women 50 to 79 years of age receiving daily CE (0.625 mg) plus MPA (2.5 mg) compared to women in the same age group receiving placebo (33 versus 25 per 10,000 women-years) [see Clinical Studies (14.5)]. The increase in risk was demonstrated after the first year and persisted. 1 Should a stroke occur or be suspected, estrogen plus progestin therapy should be discontinued immediately.
In the WHI estrogen-alone substudy, a statistically significant increased risk of stroke was reported in women 50 to 79 years of age receiving daily CE (0.625 mg)-alone compared to women in the same age group receiving placebo (45 versus 33 per 10,000 women-years). The increase in risk was demonstrated in year 1 and persisted [see Clinical Studies ( 14.5)]. Should a stroke occur or be suspected, estrogen-alone therapy should be discontinued immediately.
Subgroup analyses of women 50 to 59 years of age suggest no increased risk of stroke for those women receiving CE (0.625 mg)-alone versus those receiving placebo (18 versus 21 per 10,000 women-years). 1
Coronary Heart Disease
In the WHI estrogen plus progestin substudy, there was a statistically non-significant increase risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events (defined as nonfatal MI, silent MI, or CHD death) reported in women receiving daily CE (0.625 mg) plus MPA (2.5 mg) compared to women receiving placebo (41 versus 34 per 10,000 women-years). 1 An increase in relative risk was demonstrated in year 1, and a trend toward decreasing relative risk was reported in years 2 through 5 [see Clinical Studies ( 14.5)].
In the WHI estrogen-alone substudy, no overall effect on CHD events was reported in women receiving estrogen-alone compared to placebo 2 [see Clinical Studies ( 14.5)].
Subgroup analyses of women 50 to 59 years of age suggest a statistically non-significant reduction in CHD events (CE [0.625 mg]-alone compared to placebo) in women with less than 10 years since menopause (8 versus 16 per 10,000 women-years). 1
In postmenopausal women with documented heart disease (n=2,763), average 66.7 years of age, in a controlled clinical trial of secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease (Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study [HERS]), treatment with daily CE (0.625 mg plus MPA (2.5 mg) demonstrated no cardiovascular benefit. During an average follow-up of 4.1 years, treatment with CE plus MPA did not reduce the overall rate of CHD events in postmenopausal women with established CHD. There were more CHD events in the CE plus MPA-treated group than in the placebo group in year 1, but not during the subsequent years. Two thousand, three hundred and twenty‑one (2,321) women from the original HERS trial agreed to participate in an open label extension of HERS, HERS II. Average follow-up in HERS II was an additional 2.7 years, for a total of 6.8 years overall. Rates of CHD events were comparable among women in the CE plus MPA group and the placebo group in HERS, HERS II, and overall.
In the WHI estrogen plus progestin substudy, a statistically significant 2-fold greater rate of VTE (DVT and PE), was reported in women receiving daily CE (0.625 mg) plus MPA (2.5 mg) compared to women receiving placebo (35 versus 17 per 10,000 women-years). Statistically significant increases in risk for both DVT (26 versus 13 per 10,000 women-years) and PE (18 versus 8 per 10,000 women-years) were also demonstrated. The increase in VTE risk was demonstrated during the first year and persisted 3 [see Clinical Studies ( 14.5)]. Should a VTE occur or be suspected, estrogen plus progestin therapy should be discontinued immediately.
In the WHI estrogen-alone substudy, the risk of VTE was increased for women receiving daily CE (0.625 mg)-alone compared to placebo (30 versus 22 per 10,000 women-years), although only the increased risk of DVT reached statistical significance (23 versus 15 per 10,000 women-years). The increase in VTE risk was demonstrated during the first 2 years 4 [see Clinical Studies ( 14.5)]. Should a VTE occur or be suspected, estrogen-alone therapy should be discontinued immediately.
If feasible, estrogens should be discontinued at least 4 to 6 weeks before surgery of the type associated with an increased risk of thromboembolism, or during periods of prolonged immobilization.
The most important randomized clinical trial providing information about breast cancer in estrogen plus progestin users is the WHI substudy of daily CE (0.625 mg) plus MPA (2.5 mg). After a mean follow-up of 5.6 years, the estrogen plus progestin substudy reported an increased risk of invasive breast cancer in women who took daily CE plus MPA. In this substudy, prior use of estrogen-alone or estrogen plus progestin therapy was reported by 26 percent of the women. The relative risk of invasive breast cancer was 1.24, and the absolute risk was 41 versus 33 cases per 10,000 women-years, for CE plus MPA compared with placebo [see Clinical Studies ( 14.5)]. Among women who reported prior use of hormone therapy, the relative risk of invasive breast cancer was 1.86, and the absolute risk was 46 versus 25 cases per 10,000 women-years, for CE plus MPA compared with placebo. Among women who reported no prior use of hormone therapy, the relative risk of invasive breast cancer was 1.09, and the absolute risk was 40 versus 36 cases per 10,000 women-years, for CE plus MPA compared with placebo. In the same substudy, invasive breast cancers were larger, were more likely to be node positive, and were diagnosed at a more advanced stage in the CE (0.625 mg) plus MPA (2.5 mg) group compared with the placebo group. Metastatic disease was rare, with no apparent difference between the two groups. Other prognostic factors, such as histologic subtype, grade and hormone receptor status did not differ between the groups 5 [see Clinical Studies ( 14.5)].
The most important randomized clinical trial providing information about breast cancer in estrogen-alone users is the WHI substudy of daily CE (0.625 mg)-alone. In the WHI estrogen-alone substudy, after an average follow‑up of 7.1 years, daily CE-alone was not associated with an increased risk of invasive breast cancer [relative risk (RR) 0.80 6 [see Clinical Studies ( 14.5)].
Consistent with the WHI clinical trials, observational studies have also reported an increased risk of breast cancer for estrogen plus progestin therapy, and a smaller increased risk for estrogen-alone therapy, after several years of use. The risk increased with duration of use, and appeared to return to baseline over about 5 years after stopping treatment (only the observational studies have substantial data on risk after stopping). Observational studies also suggest that the risk of breast cancer was greater, and became apparent earlier, with estrogen plus progestin therapy as compared to estrogen-alone therapy. However, these studies have not found significant variation in the risk of breast cancer among different estrogen plus progestin combinations, doses, or routes of administration.
The use of estrogen-alone and estrogen plus progestin has been reported to result in an increase in abnormal mammograms requiring further evaluation.
In a one-year trial among 1,176 women who received either unopposed 1 mg estradiol or a combination of 1 mg estradiol plus one of three different doses of NETA (0.1, 0.25, 0.5 mg), seven new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed, two of which occurred among the group of 295 women treated with Activella 1.0 mg/0.5 mg and two of which occurred among the group of 294 women treated with 1 mg estradiol/0.1 mg NETA.
All women should receive yearly breast examinations by a healthcare provider and perform monthly breast self-examinations. In addition, mammography examinations should be scheduled based on patient age, risk factors, and prior mammogram results.
Endometrial hyperplasia (a possible precursor of endometrial cancer) has been reported to occur at a rate of approximately 1 percent or less with Activella.
An increased risk of endometrial cancer has been reported with the use of unopposed estrogen therapy in a woman with a uterus. The reported endometrial cancer risk among unopposed estrogen users is about 2 to 12 times greater than in nonusers, and appears dependent on duration of treatment and on estrogen dose. Most studies show no significant increased risk associated with use of estrogens for less than 1 year. The greatest risk appears to be associated with prolonged use, with increased risks of 15- to 24‑fold for 5 to 10 years or more. This risk has been shown to persist for at least 8 to 15 years after estrogen therapy is discontinued.
Clinical surveillance of all women using estrogen-alone or estrogen plus progestin therapy is important. Adequate diagnostic measures, including directed or random endometrial sampling when indicated, should be undertaken to rule out malignancy in postmenopausal women with undiagnosed persistent or recurring abnormal genital bleeding.
There is no evidence that the use of natural estrogens results in a different endometrial risk profile than synthetic estrogens of equivalent estrogen dose. Adding a progestin to estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women has been shown to reduce the risk of endometrial hyperplasia, which may be a precursor to endometrial cancer.
The WHI estrogen plus progestin substudy reported a statistically non-significant increased risk of ovarian cancer. After an average follow-up of 5.6 years, the relative risk for ovarian cancer for CE plus MPA versus placebo was 1.58 (95 percent CI, 0.77-3.24]. The absolute risk for CE plus MPA versus placebo was 4 versus 3 cases per 10,000 women-years. 7 In some epidemiologic studies, the use of estrogen plus progestin and estrogen-only products, in particular for 5 or more years, has been associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. However, the duration of exposure associated with increased risk is not consistent across all epidemiologic studies, and some report no association .
In the WHIMS estrogen plus progestin ancillary study of WHI, a population of 4,532 postmenopausal women 65 to 79 years of age was randomized to daily CE (0.625 mg) plus MPA (2.5 mg) or placebo.
After an average follow-up of 4 years, 40 women in the CE plus MPA and 21 women in the placebo group were diagnosed with probable dementia. The relative risk of probable dementia for the CE plus MPA versus placebo was 2.05 (95 percent CI, 1.21-3.48). The absolute risk of probable dementia for CE plus MPA versus placebo was 45 versus 22 cases per 10,000 women-years 8 [see Use in Specific Populations ( 8.5), and Clinical Studies ( 14.6)].
In the WHIMS estrogen-alone ancillary study of WHI, a population of 2,947 hysterectomized women 65 to 79 years of age was randomized to daily CE (0.625 mg)-alone or placebo. After an average follow-up of 5.2 years, 28 women in the estrogen-alone group and 19 women in the placebo group were diagnosed with probable dementia. The relative risk of probable dementia for CE-alone versus placebo was 1.49 (95 percent CI, 0.83-2.66). The absolute risk of probable dementia for CE-alone versus placebo was 37 versus 25 cases per 10,000 women-years 8 [see Use in Specific Populations (8.5), and Clinical Studies ( 14.6)].
When data from the two populations in the WHIMS estrogen-alone and estrogen plus progestin ancillary studies were pooled as planned in the WHIMS protocol, the reported overall relative risk of probable dementia was 1.76 (95 percent CI, 1.19-2.60). Since both ancillary studies were conducted in women 65 to 79 years of age, it is unknown whether these findings apply to younger postmenopausal women 8 [see Use in Specific Populations ( 8.5), and Clinical Studies ( 14.6)].
A 2- to 4 fold increase in the risk of gallbladder disease requiring surgery in postmenopausal women receiving estrogens has been reported.
Estrogen administration may lead to severe hypercalcemia in patients with breast cancer and bone metastases. If hypercalcemia occurs, use of the drug should be stopped and appropriate measures taken to reduce the serum calcium level.
Retinal vascular thrombosis has been reported in patients receiving estrogens. Discontinue medication pending examination if there is a sudden partial or complete loss of vision, or a sudden onset of proptosis, diplopia, or migraine. If examination reveals papilledema or retinal vascular lesions, estrogens should be permanently discontinued.
Addition of a Progestin When a Woman Has Not Had a Hysterectomy
Studies of the addition of a progestin for 10 or more days of a cycle of estrogen administration, or daily with estrogen in a continuous regimen, have reported a lowered incidence of endometrial hyperplasia than would be induced by estrogen treatment alone. Endometrial hyperplasia may be a precursor to endometrial cancer.
There are, however, possible risks that may be associated with the use of progestins with estrogens compared to estrogen-alone regimens. These include an increased risk of breast cancer.
Elevated Blood Pressure
In a small number of case reports, substantial increases in blood pressure have been attributed to idiosyncratic reactions to estrogens. In a large, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial, a generalized effect of estrogen therapy on blood pressure was not seen.
In women with pre-existing hypertriglyceridemia, estrogen therapy may be associated with elevations of plasma triglycerides leading to pancreatitis. Consider discontinuation of treatment if pancreatitis occurs.
Hepatic Impairment and/or Past History of Cholestatic Jaundice
Estrogens may be poorly metabolized in women with impaired liver function. For women with a history of cholestatic jaundice associated with past estrogen use or with pregnancy, caution should be exercised, and in the case of recurrence, medication should be discontinued.
Estrogen administration leads to increased thyroid-binding globulin (TBG) levels. Women with normal thyroid function can compensate for the increased TBG by making more thyroid hormone, thus maintaining free T 4 and T 3 serum concentrations in the normal range. Women dependent on thyroid hormone replacement therapy who are also receiving estrogen may require increased doses of their thyroid replacement therapy. These women should have their thyroid function monitored to maintain their free thyroid hormone levels in an acceptable range.
Estrogens plus progestins may cause some degree of fluid retention. Women with conditions that might be influenced by this factor, such as a cardiac or renal impairment, warrant careful observation when estrogens plus progestins are prescribed.
Estrogen therapy should be used with caution in women with hypoparathyroidism as estrogen-induced hypocalcemia may occur.
Exacerbation of Endometriosis
A few cases of malignant transformation of residual endometrial implants have been reported in women treated post-hysterectomy with estrogen-alone therapy. For women known to have residual endometriosis post-hysterectomy, the addition of progestin should be considered.
Exogenous estrogens may exacerbate symptoms of angioedema in women with hereditary angioedema.
Exacerbation of Other Conditions
Estrogen therapy may cause an exacerbation of asthma, diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, migraine, porphyria, systemic lupus erythematosus, and hepatic hemangiomas and should be used with caution in women with these conditions.
Serum follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol levels have not been shown to be useful in the management of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms and moderate to severe symptoms of vulvar and vaginal atrophy.
Drug-Laboratory Test Interactions
Accelerated prothrombin time, partial thromboplastin time, and platelet aggregation time; increased platelet count; increased factors II, VII antigen, VIII coagulant activity, IX, X, XII, VII-X complex, and beta-thromboglobulin; decreased levels of anti-factor Xa and antithrombin III, decreased antithrombin III activity, increased levels of fibrinogen and fibrinogen activity; increased plasminogen antigen and activity.
Increased TBG levels leading to increased circulating total thyroid hormone levels as measured by protein-bound iodine (PBI), T 4 levels (by column or by radioimmunoassay), or T 3 levels by radioimmunoassay. T 3 resin uptake is decreased, reflecting the elevated TBG. Free T 4 and free T 3 concentrations are unaltered. Women on thyroid replacement therapy may require higher doses of thyroid hormone.
Other binding proteins may be elevated in serum, for example, corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG), sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), leading to increased total circulating corticosteroids and sex steroids, respectively. Free hormone concentrations, such as testosterone and estradiol, may be decreased. Other plasma proteins may be increased (angiotensinogen/rennin substrate, alpha-1 antitrypsin, ceruloplasmin).
Increased plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and HDL 2 cholesterol subfraction concentration, reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentration, increased triglyceride levels.
Impaired glucose tolerance.
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Drugs that may affect Activella include:
- medications that block a protein in the body (CYP3A4) such as some macrolide antibiotics (clarithromycin, telithromycin), some HIV protease inhibitors (indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir), some HCV protease inhibitors (boceprevir, telaprevir), some azole antifungals (ketoconazole, itraconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole), conivaptan (Vaprisol), delavirdine (Rescriptor), and nefazodone
- medications that increase the activity of the enzyme CYP3A4 such as carbamazepine (Tegretol, Equetro, Carbatrol), phenobarbital, phenytoin (Dilantin), rifampin (Rifadin), St John's wort, and nimodipine (Nimotop)
This is not a complete list of Activella drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Activella and Pregnancy
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
Activella should not be used during pregnancy. If you think you may be pregnant, you should have a pregnancy test and know the results. Do not take Activella if the test is positive and talk to your healthcare provider.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Estradiol / norethindrone Pregnancy Warnings
Estradiol and norethindrone have been assigned to pregnancy category X by the FDA. Postmarketing human pregnancy data have revealed an association between estrogen therapy and an increased risk of vaginal adenosis, squamous cell dysplasia of the uterine cervix, and vaginal cancer development in female offspring and an increased risk of urogenital abnormalities and testicular cancer in male offspring. Furthermore, postmarketing human pregnancy data have revealed a possible association between first trimester progestin use and genitourinary anomalies in male and female fetuses. Estradiol-norethindrone is considered contraindicated during pregnancy.
Estradiol / norethindrone Breastfeeding Warnings
Estradiol and progestins are excreted into human milk in small amounts. Estrogens have been shown to decrease the quantity and quality of breast milk. The manufacturer recommends that caution be used when administering estradiol-norethindrone to nursing women.
Usual Adult Dose for Postmenopausal Symptoms
Regimen 1 (Cyclic Combined Estrogen-Progestin Therapy): Conjugated estrogens 0.625 mg orally once a day AND Medroxyprogesterone acetate 5 mg orally once a day for 14 days per month.
Regimen 2 (Continuous Combined Estrogen-Progestin Therapy): : Conjugated estrogens 0.3 mg or 0.45 mg orally once a day AND Medroxyprogesterone acetate 1.5 mg orally once a day.
In general, the duration of hormone therapy for the treatment of postmenopausal symptoms should be limited. Treatment for one to five years is generally sufficient.
Renal Dose Adjustments
Data not available