Pharmacotherapeutic Group: Gonadotropin releasing hormone analogues. ATC Code: L02AE03.
Pharmacology: Pharmacodynamics: Zoladex (D-Ser(But)6 Azgly10 LHRH) is a synthetic analogue of naturally occurring LHRH. On chronic administration Zoladex results in inhibition of pituitary LH secretion leading to a fall in serum testosterone concentrations in males and serum oestradiol concentrations in females. This effect is reversible on discontinuation of therapy. Initially, Zoladex, like other LHRH agonists, may transiently increase serum testosterone concentration in men and serum oestradiol concentration in women.
In men by around 21 days after the first depot injection, testosterone concentrations have fallen to within the castrate range and remain suppressed with continuous treatment every 28 days. This inhibition leads to prostate tumour regression and symptomatic improvement in the majority of patients.
In the management of patients with metastatic prostate cancer, Zoladex has been shown in comparative clinical trials to give similar survival outcomes to those obtained with surgical castrations.
In a combined analysis of 2 randomised controlled trials comparing bicalutamide 150 mg monotherapy versus castration (predominantly in the form of Zoladex), there was no significant difference in overall survival between bicalutamide-treated patients and castration-treated patients (hazard ratio = 1.05 [CI 0.81 to 1.36]) with locally advanced prostate cancer. However, equivalence of the two treatments could not be concluded statistically.
In comparative trials, Zoladex has been shown to improve disease-free survival and overall survival when used as an adjuvant therapy to radiotherapy in patients with high-risk localised (T1-T2 and PSA of at least 10 ng/mL or a Gleason score of at least 7), or locally advanced (T3-T4) prostate cancer. The optimum duration of adjuvant therapy has not been established; a comparative trial has shown that 3 years of adjuvant Zoladex gives significant survival improvement compared with radiotherapy alone. Neo-adjuvant Zoladex prior to radiotherapy has been shown to improve disease-free survival in patients with high risk localised or locally advanced prostate cancer.
After prostatectomy, in patients found to have extra-prostatic tumour spread, adjuvant Zoladex may improve disease-free survival periods, but there is no significant survival improvement unless patients have evidence of nodal involvement at time of surgery. Patients with pathologically staged locally advanced disease should have additional risk factors such as PSA of at least 10 ng/mL or a Gleason score of at least 7 before adjuvant Zoladex should be considered. There is no evidence of improved clinical outcomes with use of neoadjuvant Zoladex before radical prostatectomy.
In women serum oestradiol concentrations are suppressed by around 21 days after the first depot injection and, with continuous treatment every 28 days, remain suppressed at levels comparable with those observed in postmenopausal women. This suppression is associated with a response in hormone-dependent advanced breast cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis and suppression of follicular development within the ovary. It will produce endometrial thinning and will result in amenorrhoea in the majority of patients.
During treatment with LHRH analogues patients may enter the menopause. Rarely, some women do not resume menses on cessation of therapy.
Zoladex in combination with iron has been shown to induce amenorrhoea and improve haemoglobin concentrations and related haematological parameters in women with fibroids who are anaemic. The combination produced a mean haemoglobin concentration 1 g/dl above that achieved by iron therapy alone.
Pharmacokinetics: The bioavailability of Zoladex is almost complete. Administration of a depot every four weeks ensures that effective concentrations are maintained with no tissue accumulation. Zoladex is poorly protein bound and has a serum elimination half-life of two to four hours in subjects with normal renal function. The half-life is increased in patients with impaired renal function. For the compound given monthly in a depot formulation, this change will have minimal effect. Hence, no change in dosing is necessary in these patients. There is no significant change in pharmacokinetics in patients with hepatic failure.
Toxicology: Preclinical safety data: Following long-term repeated dosing with Zoladex, an increased incidence of benign pituitary tumours has been observed in male rats. Whilst this finding is similar to that previously noted in this species following surgical castration, any relevance to humans has not been established.
In mice, long term repeated dosing with multiples of the human dose produced histological changes in some regions of the digestive system manifested by pancreatic islet cell hyperplasia and a benign proliferative condition in the pyloric region of the stomach, also reported as a spontaneous lesion in this species. The clinical relevance of these findings is unknown.