The following prescribing information is based on official labelling in effect November 2000.
Close clinical surveillance of all women taking estrogens is important. Adequate diagnostic measures, including endometrial sampling when indicated, should be undertaken to rule out malignancy in all cases of undiagnosed persistent or recurring abnormal vaginal bleeding. There is no evidence that "natural" estrogens are more or less hazardous than "synthetic" estrogens at equiestrogenic doses.
The Vivelle estradiol transdermal system contains estradiol in a multipolymeric adhesive. The system is designed to release estradiol continuously upon application to intact skin.
Five systems are available to provide nominal in vivo delivery of 0.025, 0.0375, 0.05, 0.075, or 0.1 mg of estradiol per day via skin of average permeability. Each corresponding system having an active surface area of 7.25, 11.0, 14.5, 22.0 or 29.0 cm 2 contains 2.17, 3.28, 4.33, 6.57, or 8.66 mg of estradiol USP, respectively. The composition of the systems per unit area is identical.
Estradiol USP is a white, crystalline powder, chemically described as estra-1,3,5 (10)-triene-3,17(beta)-diol.
The structural formula is
The molecular formula of estradiol is C 18 H 24 O 2 . The molecular weight is 272.39.
The Vivelle system comprises three layers. Proceeding from the visible surface toward the surface attached to the skin, these layers are (1) a translucent flexible film consisting of an ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer film, a polyurethane film, urethane polymer and epoxy resin, (2) an adhesive formulation containing estradiol, acrylic adhesive, polyisobutylene, ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer, 1,3 butylene glycol, styrene-butadiene rubber, oleic acid, lecithin, propylene glycol, bentonite, mineral oil, and dipropylene glycol, and (3) a polyester release liner that is attached to the adhesive surface and must be removed before the system can be used.
The active component of the system is estradiol. The remaining components of the system are pharmacologically inactive.
Vivelle system provides systemic estrogen replacement therapy by releasing estradiol, the major estrogenic hormone secreted by the human ovary. Estrogens are largely responsible for the development and maintenance of the female reproductive system and secondary sexual characteristics. Although circulating estrogens exist in a dynamic equilibrium of metabolic interconversions, estradiol is the principal intracellular human estrogen and is substantially more potent than its metabolites, estrone and estriol at the receptor level. The primary source of estrogen in normally cycling adult women is the ovarian follicle, which secretes 70 to 500 µg of estradiol daily, depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle. After menopause, most endogenous estrogen is produced by conversion of androstenedione, secreted by the adrenal cortex, to estrone by peripheral tissues. Thus, estrone and the sulfate conjugated form, estrone sulfate, are the most abundant circulating estrogens in postmenopausal women.
Circulating estrogens modulate the pituitary secretion of the gonadotropins, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) through a negative feedback mechanism and estrogen replacement therapy acts to reduce the elevated levels of these hormones seen in postmenopausal women.
In a multiple-dose study consisting of three consecutive patch applications of the Vivelle system, which was conducted in 17 healthy, postmenopausal women, blood levels of estradiol and estrone were compared following application of these units to sites on the abdomen and buttocks in a crossover fashion. Patches that deliver nominal estradiol doses of approximately 0.0375 mg/day and 0.1 mg/day were applied to abdominal application sites while the 0.1 mg/day doses were also applied to sites on the buttocks. These systems increased estradiol levels above baseline within 4 hours and maintained respective mean levels of 25 and 79 pg/mL above baseline following application to the abdomen; slightly higher mean levels of 88 pg/mL above baseline were observed following application to the buttocks. At the same time, increases in estrone plasma concentrations averaged about 12 and 50 pg/mL, respectively, following application to the abdomen and 61 pg/mL for the buttocks. While plasma concentrations of estradiol and estrone remained slightly above baseline at 12 hours following removal of the patches in this study, results from another study show these levels to return to baseline values within 24 hours following removal of the patches.
The figure (see Figure 1) illustrates the mean plasma concentrations of estradiol at steady-state during application of these patches at four different dosages.
The corresponding pharmacokinetic parameters are summarized in the table below.
The distribution of exogenous estrogens is similar to that of endogenous estrogens. Estrogens are widely distributed in the body and are generally found in higher concentrations in the sex hormone target organs. Estradiol and other naturally occurring estrogens are bound mainly to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and to a lesser degree to albumin.
Exogenous estrogens are metabolized in the same manner as endogenous estrogens. Circulating estrogens exist in a dynamic equilibrium of metabolic interconversions. These transformations take place mainly in the liver. Estradiol is converted reversibly to estrone, and both can be converted to estriol, which is the major urinary metabolite. Estrogens also undergo enterohepatic recirculation via sulfate and glucuronide conjugation in the liver, biliary secretion of conjugates into the intestine, and hydrolysis in the gut followed by reabsorption. In postmenopausal women, a significant portion of the circulating estrogens exist as sulfate conjugated, especially estrone sulfate, which serves as a circulating reservoir for the formation of more active estrogens.
Estradiol, estrone, and estriol are excreted in the urine along with glucuronide and sulfate conjugates. Studies conducted with the Vivelle system show the drug has an apparent mean half-life of 4.4 ± 2.3 hours. After removal of the transdermal systems, serum concentrations of estradiol and estrone returned to baseline levels within 24 hours.
The Vivelle system has been studied only in healthy postmenopausal women (approximately 90% Caucasian). The Vivelle system has not been studied in patients with renal or hepatic impairment.
No drug interaction studies were conducted with the Vivelle system.
Data showing the number of systems in controlled studies that required replacement due to inadequate adhesion is not available.
In two controlled clinical trials of 356 subjects, the 0.075 and 0.1 mg doses were superior to placebo in relieving vasomotor symptoms at Week 4, and maintained efficacy through Weeks 8 and 12 of treatment. The 0.0375 and 0.05 mg doses, however, did not differ from placebo until approximately Week 6.
Therefore, an additional 12-week placebo-controlled study in 255 patients was performed to establish the efficacy of the lowest dose of 0.0375 mg. The baseline mean daily number of hot flushes in these 255 patients was 11.5. Results at Weeks 4, 8, and 12 of treatment are shown in the figure below. (See Figure 2)
The 0.0375 mg dose was superior to placebo in reducing both the frequency and severity of vasomotor symptoms at Week 4 and maintained efficacy through Weeks 8 and 12 of treatment. All doses of Vivelle (0.0375 mg, 0.05 mg, 0.075 mg, and 0.1 mg) are effective for the control of vasomotor symptoms.
Efficacy and safety of the Vivelle system in the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis have been studied in a 2-year double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel group study. A total of 261 hysterectomized (161) and non-hysterectomized (100), surgically or naturally menopausal women (within 5 years of menopause), with no evidence of osteoporosis (lumbar spine bone mineral density within 2 standard deviations of average peak bone mass, i.e., >/= 0.827 g/cm 2 ) were enrolled in this study; 194 patients were randomized to one of the four doses of Vivelle (0.1, 0.05, 0.0375, or 0.025 mg/day) and 67 patients to placebo. Over 2 years, study systems were applied to the buttock or the abdomen twice a week. Non-hysterectomized women received oral medroxyprogesterone acetate (2.5 mg/day) throughout the study.
The study population comprised naturally (82%) or surgically (18%) menopausal, hysterectomized (61%) or non-hysterectomized (39%) women with a mean age of 52.0 years (range 27 to 62 years); the mean duration of menopause was 31.7 months (range 2 to 72 months). Two hundred thirty-two (89%) or randomized subjects (173 on active drug, 59 on placebo) contributed data to the analysis of percent change from baseline in bone mineral density (BMD) of the AP lumbar spine, the primary efficacy variable. Patients were given supplemental dietary calcium (1000 mg elemental calcium/day) but no supplemental vitamin D. There was an increase in BMD of the AP lumbar spine in all Vivelle dose groups; in contrast to this, a decrease in AP lumbar spine BMD was observed in placebo patients. All Vivelle doses were significantly superior to placebo (p<0.05) at all time points with the exception of Vivelle 0.05 mg/day at 6 months. The highest dose of Vivelle was superior to the three lower doses. There were no statistically significant differences in pairwise comparisons among the three lower doses. (See Figure 3.)
Analysis of percent change from baseline in femoral neck BMD, a secondary efficacy outcome variable, showed qualitatively similar results; all doses of Vivelle were significantly superior to placebo (p<0.05) at 24 months. The highest Vivelle dose was superior to placebo at all time points. A mixture of significant and non-significant results were obtained for the lower dose groups at earlier time points. The highest Vivelle dose was superior to the three lower doses, and there were no significant differenes among the three lower doses at this skeletal site. (See Figure 4.)
The mean serum osteocalcin (a marker of bone formation) and urinary excretion of cross-link N-telopeptides of type 1 collagen (a marker of bone resportion) decreased numerically in most of the active treatment groups relative to baseline. However, the decreases in both markers were inconsistent across treatment groups and the differences between active treatment groups and placebo were not statistically significant.
Vivelle® (estradiol transdermal system) is indicated in the following:
Patients with known hypersensitivity to any of the components of the therapeutic system should not use Vivelle.
Estrogens should not be used in individuals with any of the following conditions:
See text of Patient Package Insert , which appears after the HOW SUPPLIED section.
Estrogen administration should generally be guided by clinical response at the smallest dose, rather than laboratory monitoring, for relief of symptoms for those indications in which symptoms are observable.
Some of these drug/laboratory test interactions have been observed only with estrogen progestin combinations (oral contraceptives):
Long-term, continuous administration of natural and synthetic estrogens in certain animal species increases the frequency of carcinomas of the breast, cervix, vagina, testis, and liver (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and ).
Estrogens should not be used during pregnancy. There is no indication for estrogen therapy during pregnancy or during the immediate postpartum period. Estrogens are ineffective for the prevention or treatment of threatened or habitual abortion. Estrogens are not indicated for the prevention of postpartum breast engorgement.
Estrogen therapy during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of congenital defects in the reproductive organs of the fetus, and possibly other birth defects. Studies of women who received diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy have shown that female offspring have an increased risk of vaginal adenosis, squamous cell dysplasia of the uterine cervix, and clear cell vaginal cancer later in life; male offspring have an increased risk of urogenital abnormalities and possibly testicular cancer later in life. The 1985 DES Task Force concluded that use of DES during pregnancy is associated with a subsequent increased risk of breast cancer in the mothers, although a causal relationship remains unproven and the observed level of excess risk is similar to that for a number of other breast cancer risk factors.
Estrogen administration to nursing mothers has been shown to decrease the quantity and quality of the milk.
The safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.
The safety and effectiveness in geriatric patients (over age 65) have not been established.
See and Boxed Warning regarding the potential adverse effects on the fetus, the induction of malignant neoplasms, gallbladder disease, cardiovascular disease, elevated blood pressure, and hypercalcemia.
The most commonly reported systemic adverse event to the Vivelle system in controlled clinical trials was headache. This occurred in approximately 36% of patients treated with active systems and in 30% of patients treated with placebo. The most common topical adverse events in these trials were erythema and pruritus at the application site. Most cases were considered mild. Fewer than 5% of patients on active drug at the final visit of the study had reactions of greater than mild intensity. Rash was reported in approximately 5% of patients treated with active systems and in approximately 4% of patients treated with placebo in these trials. Two patients out of 356 were discontinued from the trials due to skin irritation/erythema.
In a 2-year controlled trial, back pain was reported in 13% of patients treated with the Vivelle system and 4.5% of patients treated with placebo. Local application site reactions (patch site erythema, itching, rash, burning, irritation) were reported in approximately 9% of patients treated with active systems and 10% of patients treated with placebo. In most cases, the local application site reactions were considered mild; none was considered severe. Two patients out of 259 were discontinued from the trial due to local application site reactions. Vaginal bleeding and breast tenderness were more common in the highest dose group (0.1 mg/day) than in the three other active treatment groups or in placebo-treated patients.
The following additional adverse reactions have been reported with estrogen therapy:
Although a causal relationship with Vivelle has not been established, adverse events reported from marketing experience include: isolated reports of anaphylaxis, rare elevated liver function tests, and reports of leg pain.
Serious ill effects have not been reported following acute ingestion of large doses of estrogen-containing oral contraceptives by young children. Overdosage of estrogen may cause nausea and vomiting, and withdrawal bleeding may occur in females.
The adhesive side of the Vivelle system should be placed on a clean, dry area of the trunk of the body (including the abdomen or buttocks). The Vivelle system should not be applied to the breasts. The Vivelle system should be replaced twice weekly. The sites of application must be rotated, with an interval of at least 1 week allowed between applications to a particular site. The area selected should not be oily, damaged, or irritated. The waistline should be avoided, since tight clothing may rub the system off. The system should be applied immediately after opening the pouch and removing the protective liner. The system should be pressed firmly in place with the palm of the hand for about 10 seconds, making sure there is good contact, especially around the edges. In the event that a system should fall off, the same system may be reapplied. If necessary, a new system may be applied. In either case, the original treatment schedule should be continued.
For treatment of moderate-to-severe vasomotor symptoms and vulvar and vaginal atrophy associated with the menopause, start therapy with Vivelle estradiol transdermal system 0.0375 mg/day applied to the skin twice weekly. In order to use the lowest dosage necessary for the control of symptoms, decisions to increase dosage should not be made until after the first month of therapy. Attempts to discontinue or taper medication should be made at 3-month to 6-month intervals.
In women not currently taking oral estrogens or in women switching from another estradiol transdermal therapy, treatment with the Vivelle estradiol transdermal system may be initiated at once. In women who are currently taking oral estrogens, treatment with the Vivelle estradiol transdermal system should be initiated 1 week after withdrawal of oral hormone replacement therapy, or sooner if menopausal symptoms reappear in less than 1 week.
For the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis, the minimum dose that has been shown to be effective is the 0.025 mg/day system. The dosage may be adjusted as necessary. Reproductive system-associated adverse events were encountered more frequently in the highest dose group (0.1 mg/day) than in other active treatment dose groups or in placebo-treated patients.
Vivelle may be given continuously in patients who do not have an intact uterus. In those patients with an intact uterus, Vivelle may be given continuously or on a cyclic schedule (e.g., three weeks on drug followed by one week off drug) with a progestin.
Vivelle estradiol transdermal system 0.025 mg/day --each 7.25 cm 2 system contains 2.17 mg of estradiol USP for nominal * delivery of 0.025 mg of estradiol per day.
Patient Calendar Pack of 8 systems .......................... NDC 0078-0348-42
Carton of 6 Patient Calendar Packs of 8 systems ...... NDC 0078-0348-44
Vivelle estradiol transdermal system 0.0375 mg/day --each 11.0 cm 2 system contains 3.28 mg of estradiol USP for nominal * delivery of 0.0375 mg of estradiol per day.
Patient Calendar Pack of 8 systems .......................... NDC 0083-2325-08
Carton of 6 Patient Calendar Packs of 8 systems ...... NDC 0083-2325-62
Carton of 24 systems ............................................... NDC 0083-2325-25
Vivelle estradiol transdermal system 0.05 mg/day --each 14.5 cm 2 system contains 4.33 mg of estradiol USP for nominal * delivery of 0.05 mg of estradiol per day.
Patient Calendar Pack of 8 systems .......................... NDC 0083-2326-08
Carton of 6 Patient Calendar Packs of 8 systems ...... NDC 0083-2326-62
Carton of 24 systems ............................................... NDC 0083-2326-25
Vivelle estradiol transdermal system 0.075 mg/day --each 22.0 cm 2 system contains 6.57 mg of estradiol USP for nominal * delivery of 0.075 mg of estradiol per day.
Patient Calendar Pack of 8 systems .......................... NDC 0083-2327-08
Carton of 6 Patient Calendar Packs of 8 systems ...... NDC 0083-2327-62
Carton of 24 systems ............................................... NDC 0083-2327-25
Vivelle estradiol transdermal system 0.1 mg/day --each 29.0 cm 2 system contains 8.66 mg of estradiol USP for nominal * delivery of 0.1 mg of estradiol per day.
Patient Calendar Pack of 8 systems .......................... NDC 0083-2328-08
Carton of 6 Patient Calendar Packs of 8 systems ...... NDC 0083-2328-62
Carton of 24 systems ............................................... NDC 0083-2328-25
Do not store above 86°F (30°C). Do not store unpouched. Apply immediately upon removal from the protective pouch.
REV: AUGUST 2000 T2000-52
estradiol transdermal system
If you use any estrogen-containing drug, it is important to visit your doctor regularly and report any unusual vaginal bleeding right away. Vaginal bleeding after menopause may be a warning sign of uterine cancer. Your doctor should evaluate any unusual vaginal bleeding to find out the cause.
Your doctor has prescribed the Vivelle system for the treatment of your menopausal symptoms. During menopause, production of estrogen hormones by your body decreases well below the amounts normally produced during your fertile years. In many women this decrease in estrogen production causes uncomfortable symptoms, most noticeably hot flushes and sleep disturbance. Estrogens can be given to reduce or eliminate these symptoms.
The Vivelle system that your doctor has prescribed for you releases small amounts of estradiol through the skin in a continuous way. Estradiol is the same hormone that your ovaries produce abundantly before menopause. The dose of estradiol you require will depend upon your individual response. The dose is adjusted by the size of the Vivelle system used; the systems are available in five sizes.
Vivelle contains estradiol. When applied to the skin as directed below, the Vivelle system releases estradiol, which flows through the skin into the bloodstream.
Each system is individually sealed in a protective pouch. Tear open this pouch at the indentation (do not use scissors) and remove the system.
A stiff protective liner covers the adhesive side of the system - the side that will be placed against your skin. This liner must be removed before applying the system. Hold the unit with the protective liner facing you.
Peel off one side of the protective liner and discard it. Try to avoid touching the sticky side of the system with your fingers.
Using the other half of the liner as a handle, apply the sticky side of the system to a dry area of the skin on the trunk of the body (including the abdomen or buttocks). Press the sticky side on the skin and smooth down.
Fold back the remaining side of the system. Grasp the straight edge of the protective liner and pull it off the system.
Press the system firmly in place.
Some women may find that it is more comfortable to wear Vivelle on the buttocks. Do not apply Vivelle to your breasts. The sites of application must be rotated, with an interval of at least 1 week allowed between applications to a particular site. The area selected should not be oily, damaged, or irritated. Avoid the waistline, since tight clothing may rub the system off. Apply the system immediately after opening the pouch and removing the protective liner. Press the system firmly in place with the palm of your hand for about 10 seconds, making sure there is good contact, especially around the edges.
The Vivelle system should be worn continuously until it is time to replace it with a new system. You may wish to experiment with different locations when applying a new system, to find ones that are most comfortable for you and where clothing will not rub on the system.
The Vivelle system should be replaced twice weekly. Your Vivelle package contains a calendar checklist on the back to help you remember a schedule. Mark the 2-day schedule you plan to follow. Always change the system on the 2 days of the week you have marked.
When changing the system, remove the used Vivelle system and discard it. Any adhesive that might remain on your skin can be easily rubbed off. Then place the new Vivelle system on a different skin site. (The same skin site should not be used again for at least 1 week after removal of the system.)
Please note: Contact with water when you are bathing, swimming, or showering will not affect the system. In the event that a system should fall off, put this same system back on and continue to follow your original treatment schedule. If necessary, you may apply a new system but continue to follow your original schedule.
Regular use of the Vivelle twice weekly offers relief of moderate-to-severe symptoms of menopause.
Small quantities of the naturally occurring hormone estradiol are absorbed through the skin from the Vivelle system, ensuring a continuous supply of circulating hormone in the body.
To reduce moderate or severe menopausal symptoms. Estrogens are hormones produced by the ovaries. The decrease in the amount of estrogen that occurs in all women, usually between ages 45 and 55, causes the menopause. Sometimes the ovaries are removed by an operation, causing "surgical menopause." When the amount of estrogen begins to decrease, some women develop very uncomfortable symptoms, such as feelings of warmth in the face, neck, and chest, or sudden intense episodes of heat and sweating ("hot flashes"). The use of drugs containing estrogens can help the body adjust to lower estrogen levels.
Some women have only mild menopausal symptoms, or none at all, and do not need estrogen therapy for these particular symptoms. Other women may need estrogens for a few months while their bodies adjust to lower estrogen levels. For the treatment of menopausal symptoms only, most women need estrogen replacement therapy for no longer than 6 months.
To treat vulvar and vaginal atrophy (itching, burning, dryness in or around the vagina, difficulty or burning on urination) associated with menopause.
To treat certain conditions in which a young woman's ovaries do not produce enough estrogen naturally.
To help prevent osteoporosis (thinning of bones) . Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bones that makes them weaker and allows them to break more easily. The bones of the spine, wrists, and hips break most often in osteporosis. Both men and women start to lose bone mass after about age 40, but women lose bone mass faster after the menopause. Women who are likely to develop osteoporosis often have one or more of the following characteristics: white or Asian race, slim, cigarette smokers, and a family history of osteoporosis in a mother, sister, or aunt. Women who have relatively early menopause, often because their ovaries were removed during an operation (surgical menopause), are more likely to develop osteoporosis than women whose menopause happens at the average age.
Using estrogens after the menopause slows down bone thinning and may prevent bones from breaking. Lifelong adequate calcium intake, either in the diet (such as dairy products) or by calcium supplements (to reach a total daily intake of 1000 milligrams per day before menopause of 1500 milligrams per day after menopause), may help to prevent osteoporosis. Regular weight-bearing exercise may also help to prevent osteoporosis. Before you change your calcium intake or exercise habits, it is important to discuss these lifestyle changes with your doctor to find out if they are safe for you.
During pregnancy. If you think you may be pregnant, do not use any form of estrogen-containing drug. Using estrogens while you are pregnant may cause your unborn child to have birth defects. Estrogens do not prevent miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) and are not needed in the days following childbirth. If you take estrogens during pregnancy, your unborn child has a greater than usual chance of having birth defects. The risk of developing these defects is small, but clearly larger than the risk in children whose mothers did not take estrogens during pregnancy. These birth defects may affect the baby' urinary system and sex organs. Daughters born to mothers who took DES (an estrogen drug) have a higher than usual chance of developing cancer of the vagina or cervix when they become teenagers or young adults. Sons may have a higher than usual chance of developing cancer of the testicles when they become teenagers or young adults.
If you have unusual vaginal bleeding which has not been evaluated by your doctor (see Boxed Warning ). Unusual vaginal bleeding can be a warning sign of cancer of the uterus, especially if it happens after menopause. Your doctor must find out the cause of the bleeding so that he or she can recommend the proper treatment. Taking estrogens without visiting your doctor can cause you serious harm if your vaginal bleeding is caused by cancer of the uterus.
If you have had cancer . Since estrogens increase the risk of certain types of cancer, you should not use estrogens if you have or have ever had cancer of the breast or uterus.
If you have any circulation problems. Estrogen therapy should be used only after consultation with your doctor and only in recommended doses. Patients with current or past abnormal blood clotting should not use estrogens (see DANGERS OF ESTROGENS , below).
When they are ineffective. During menopause, some women develop nervous symptoms or depression. Estrogens do not relieve these symptoms. You may have heard that taking estrogens for years after menopause will keep your skin soft and supple and keep you feeling young. There is no evidence for these claims and such long-term estrogen use may have serious risks.
After childbirth or when breastfeeding a baby. Estrogens should not be used to try to stop the breasts from filling with milk after a baby is born. Such treatment may increase the risk of developing blood clots (see DANGERS OF ESTROGEN , below).
If you are breastfeeding, you should avoid using any drugs because many drugs pass through to the baby in the milk. While nursing a baby, you should take drugs only on the advice of your healthcare provider.
Cancer of the uterus. The risk of developing cancer of the uterus gets higher the longer estrogens are used and when larger doses are taken. One study showed that when estrogens are discontinued, this increased risk of cancer seems to fall off quickly. Three other studies showed that the risk for uterine cancer stayed high for 8 to more than 15 years after stopping estrogen treatment. Because of this risk, it is important to take the lowest dose that works and to take it only as long as you need it . Using progestin therapy together with estrogen therapy may reduce the higher risk of uterine cancer related to estrogen use (see OTHER INFORMATION , below).
If you have had your uterus removed (total hysterectomy), there is no danger of developing cancer of the uterus.
Cancer of the breast. Studies examining the risk of breast cancer among women using estrogen alone and combined estrogen/progestin therapy have suggested that there may be a mildly increased risk of breast cancer in women taking the combined therapy.
If you do not have your uterus, there is no need for combined estrogen/progestin therapy since estrogen alone therapy is sufficient and may pose less risk for breast cancer.
If you do have your uterus, you should discuss the benefits and risks of combined estrogen/progestin therapy with your health care provider. Regular breast exams by a health professional and monthly self-exams are recommended for all women. Mammography may also be recommended depending on your age and risk factors.
Gallbladder disease. Women who use estrogens after menopause are more likely to develop gallbladder disease needing surgery than women who do not use estrogens.
Abnormal blood clotting. Taking estrogens may increase the risk of blood clots. These clots can cause a stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolus, any of which may cause death or long term serious disability.
In addition to the risks listed above, the following side effects have been reported with estrogen use:
In Postmarketing experience, although a causal relationship with Vivelle has not been established, isolated reports of anaphylaxis as well as rare reports of elevated liver function tests have been received.
If you use estrogens, you can reduce your risks by doing these things:
See your doctor regularly. While you are using estrogens, it is important to visit your doctor at least once a year for a check-up. If you develop vaginal bleeding while taking estrogens, you may need further evaluation. If members of your family have had breast cancer or if you have ever had breast lumps or an abnormal mammogram (breast x-ray), you may need to have more frequent breast examinations.
Reassess your need for estrogens. You and your doctor should reevaluate whether or not you still need estrogens at least every six months.
Be alert for signs of trouble. Report these or any other unusual side effects to your doctor immediately:
If your uterus has not been removed, your doctor may choose to prescribe a progestin, a different hormonal drug to be used in association with estrogen treatment. Progestins lower the risk of developing endometrial hyperplasia, a possible precancerous condition of the uterine lining, which may occur while using estrogen. There are possible additional risks that may be associated with the inclusion of a progestin in estrogen treatment. The possible risks include unfavorable effects on blood fats and sugars, as well as a possible further increase in breast cancer risk that may be associated with long-term estrogen use.
Some research has suggested that estrogen taken without progestins may protect women against developing heart disease. However, this effect of estrogen is not certain.
You are cautioned to discuss very carefully with your doctor or healthcare provider all the possible risks and benefits of long-term estrogen and progestin treatment, as they affect you personally.
Your doctor has prescribed this drug for you and you alone. Do not give the drug to anyone else.
Keep this and all drugs out of the reach of children. In case of overdose, remove the system and call your doctor, hospital, or poison control center immediately.
This leaflet provides a summary of the most important information about estrogens. If you want more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist to show you the professional labeling.
©2000 Novartis T2000-53
REV: AUGUST 2000
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
East Hanover, New Jersey 07936