Proper Use

Drug information provided by: Micromedex

Your doctor or nurse will teach you or a caregiver how to give this medicine. The medicine is given as an infusion through a catheter that is placed directly into a vein. Do not use more medicine than your doctor tells you to.

Your doctor or nurse will teach you how to prepare the medicine and use the pump for the infusion. Epoprostenol must be administered continuously by a portable pump that is operated by a small computer. The medicine will be delivered directly to the heart through a catheter that will be inserted into a vein in the chest.

Epoprostenol should be reconstituted only with the sterile diluent that is supplied with this medicine. The reconstituted medicine should not be mixed with other solutions or medicines. Use the following procedure for reconstituting your daily supply:

  • Clear an area to work in and clean the area with alcohol. Gather your supplies. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and then open all packages. Remove the vial cap from the vial containing the sterile diluent, clean the tops of the vials with alcohol swabs, and let the vial tops dry before proceeding.

To withdraw the sterile diluent:

  • If not already attached, attach a needle to the syringe. Gently pull the plunger out slightly and push it back to break the syringe seal. Draw air into the syringe that is about equal to the amount of sterile diluent you've been instructed to withdraw from the vial. Insert the needle at an angle, completely through the rubber seal of the vial. Turn the vial and syringe upside down (the syringe-vial unit is now vertical) and carefully press the plunger, injecting some or all of the air into the vial. Then aim the tip of the needle into the fluid and carefully pull the plunger slowly back to withdraw the diluent and/or allow the pressure to fill the syringe with the diluent. Continue pushing the remaining air into the vial, allowing the liquid to enter the syringe until the prescribed amount of diluent has been drawn into the syringe. Without withdrawing the needle, tap the syringe gently so that any air bubbles trapped in the syringe rise toward the top of the syringe. If air bubbles appear, depress the plunger gently to force the air bubbles out (into the vial) and then withdraw enough additional diluent to restore the needed volume in the syringe. (Holding the syringe-vial as a unit in a vertical position and keeping the needle tip in the fluid while withdrawing the diluent may help minimize the amount of air drawn into the syringe.) Once the required volume has been drawn into the syringe, let the syringe-vial pressure equalize and slowly withdraw the needle from the vial.

To reconstitute the epoprostenol:

  • Insert the same needle through the rubber seal of the vial of epoprostenol and inject the sterile diluent gently onto the side of the vial. The flow of the sterile diluent should be directed toward the side of the vial and injected slowly in order to prevent the medicine from foaming. Once the pressure has equalized, withdraw the needle from the vial. Gently swirl the vial to mix the epoprostenol. Turn the vial upside down to catch any undissolved powder near the top of the vial. Never shake the vials. Repeat this process if you need to mix more than one vial of epoprostenol.

To draw out the reconstituted epoprostenol:

  • Wipe the top of the reconstituted epoprostenol vial with an alcohol swab and let it dry. Change the needle on the syringe and then gently pull back the syringe plunger and fill the syringe with the amount of air that is equal to the amount of reconstituted epoprostenol you have been instructed to withdraw. Insert the needle through the seal of the vial and inject the air into the vial. Be sure to keep the needle tip below the fluid line and then pull the plunger back gently to withdraw the reconstituted epoprostenol into the syringe. Remove any air that may be trapped in the syringe as described above. Withdraw the needle and replace the needle cap on the syringe.

To inject the reconstituted epoprostenol into the cassette:

  • Remove the end cap from the cassette tubing. Carefully remove the needle from the syringe (be sure to discard the needle in an appropriate manner) and attach the syringe to the cassette tubing. Hold the cassette in one hand and push the plunger to inject the reconstituted solution into the cassette (alternatively, you may find it useful to use a tabletop or other solid structure to steady the plunger while pushing down on the syringe to inject the solution). When the syringe is empty, clamp the cassette tubing near the syringe. Disconnect the syringe and replace the cassette tubing end cap.

To inject the remaining diluent into the partially filled cassette

  • Using a 60 mL syringe, attach a new needle to the syringe and follow the above procedures for breaking the syringe seal and wiping the tops of the sterile diluent vials. Fill the syringe with the amount of air that is equal to the amount of sterile diluent you will remove from the first vial. Insert the needle through the rubber seal and slowly inject some of the air into the vial, allowing the fluid to flow into the syringe. Continue to push air gently into the vial until all of the fluid in the vial has flowed into the syringe. Remove any air that may be in the syringe as described above. Allow the pressure to equalize before you pull the needle out or you may lose fluid from the syringe. (If this occurs, the whole process needs to be repeated.) Withdraw the needle and replace the needle cap on the syringe. You may find it easier to hold the larger syringe in an upside down, vertical position while withdrawing the fluid in the vial.

To inject the sterile diluent into the cassette:

  • Uncap the clamped cassette tube and carefully remove the needle from the syringe (discarding the needle in an appropriate manner). Attach the syringe to the cassette tubing. Unclamp the cassette tubing and carefully inject the solution into the cassette. When the syringe is empty, clamp the cassette tube near the syringe and disconnect the syringe. Replace the cap on the cassette tube. If more diluent is needed to fill the cassette, repeat steps 6 and 7 with an additional vial of diluent; however, after completing the transfer of all of the required diluent, clamp the tubing, but leave the syringe attached to the cassette tubing while you mix the solution. Gently turn the cassette upside down at least 10 times to thoroughly mix the reconstituted epoprostenol with the additional diluent.

To remove air from the cassette:

  • To remove the air from inside the cassette, slowly turn the cassette until all of the small bubbles of air join to form one air pocket. Tilt the cassette gently so that the air pocket is in the corner where the tubing connects to the cassette. Unclamp the tube and pull back the plunger of the syringe until you see fluid fill the tubing. Clamp the tube near the connector and remove the syringe and replace the cap on the tubing. Label the cassette with the current time and date. Store the cassette in the refrigerator (preferably, on the top shelf to avoid spilling any food or drink on it) until it is time to use it. Make up a new cassette each day and use the cassette you refrigerated the day before so that you will always have a back-up cassette.

To use the pump:

  • The instructions for the use of the pump may vary depending on the particular make and model of the pump. Your doctor or nurse will give detailed instructions on how to use and care for the particular pump and accessories that you will use for administering your medicine. These instructions should include how to change the pump battery, cassette, and tubing. Remember to change the gel packs every 12 hours or every 8 hours if the surrounding temperature approaches 86 °F.
  • Maintain sterile technique at all times. If you suspect that you have contaminated anything, throw away the accessories and begin again.

During use, the mixed solution can be administered by the pump at room temperature for up to 24 hours if you mixed the entire vial with the 5 milliliter solution provided. If you are using a lower concentration, the mixture is only good for 12 hours. Protect the solution from direct sunlight.

Ask your doctor who to call if you have any problems with the infusion pump. You may be given a second infusion pump to have in case the first pump stops working. Make sure you have access to this pump as a backup at all times.

You will need to continue using this medicine for a long period of time, possibly for many years. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns about this.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the concentration of the reconstituted medicine and the rate at which the infusion pump delivers the medicine.

Look at the liquid in the vial (glass container). If the liquid has solid pieces or specks in it or if the liquid has changed color, do not use the vial.

Use only the supplies provided in the medication kit to inject Flolan®. The mixed medicine must be injected using the provided infusion tubing, which has a filter to remove any solid pieces or specks (eg, glass particles) in the liquid.

Dosing

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For injection dosage form (solution):
    • For primary pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary hypertension secondary to scleroderma spectrum of disease:
      • Adults—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The initial dose is usually 2 nanograms (ng) per kilogram (kg) (0.9 nanogram per pound) of body weight per minute. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Missed Dose

Call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.

Storage

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.

Store the medicine vial in the original carton at room temperature. Keep the carton away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Do not freeze.

Store the mixed solution in the refrigerator for 5 days, away from direct light. Keep the medicine from freezing. Any medicine that has been frozen should be thrown away. Mixed solutions can be stored at room temperature (up to 25 degrees C) for no more than 48 hours. Discard the mixed solution if it is kept in the refrigerator for more than 5 days or at room temperature for more than 48 hours.

Do not reuse syringes and needles. Put used syringes and needles in a puncture-resistant disposable container, or dispose of them as directed by your doctor.