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Background: Tacrolimus is an immunosuppressive drug that is used to lower the activity of the patient's immune system to prevent organ rejection. Unfortunately, there is limited data regarding the therapeutic equivalency of generic tacrolimus formulations especially in children. We report the case of a pediatric patient having an inability to achieve a therapeutic trough level for tacrolimus after conversion from brand name to the generic formulation. Case presentation: A 17-month-old male patient diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia underwent allogeneic stem cell transplantation. The patient initially received intravenous (IV) tacrolimus for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis and achieved therapeutic levels. The patient was then switched to an oral brand formulation of tacrolimus, and was able to maintain trough levels within the therapeutic range. After being discharged, the patient received the generic formulation of tacrolimus from an outside pharmacy and the care team was unable to reach therapeutic levels despite multiple dose escalations. Returning to brand name tacrolimus resulted in prompt achievement of therapeutic levels. Conclusions: A likely etiology for the inability to achieve therapeutic trough levels in this patient is the change in formulation from brand formulation to generic version. Other factors including drug-drug interaction, preparation of the medication by a different pharmacy, drug-food interaction and genetic factors were also considered. Physicians and pharmacists must be aware of the inability to achieve targeted therapeutic concentrations of tacrolimus resulting from the conversion of brand name to the generic formulation until these generic formulations are tested in clinical trials in a pediatric population.
Madian, A. G., Panigrahi, A., Perera, M. A., & Pinto, N. (2014). Case report: Inability to achieve a therapeutic dose of tacrolimus in a pediatric allogeneic stem cell transplant patient after generic substitution. BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/2050-6511-15-69