Ketoconazole-containing medicines

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On 25 July 2013, the European Medicines Agency’s Committee on Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommended that the marketing authorisations of oral ketoconazole-containing medicines should be suspended throughout the European Union (EU). The CHMP concluded that the risk of liver injury is greater than the benefits in treating fungal infections.

Patients currently taking oral ketoconazole for fungal infections should make a non-urgent appointment with their doctor to discuss suitable alternative treatments. Doctors should no longer prescribe oral ketoconazole and should review patients’ treatment options.

The EU-wide review of oral ketoconazole was triggered by the suspension of the medicine in France. The French medicine agency, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicine and Health Products (ANSM), concluded that the benefit-risk balance of oral ketoconazole was negative because of a high level of liver injury associated with the medicine and in view of the currently available alternative treatments, which are deemed to be safer. European legislation requires that there is a coordinated European approach when a Member State takes regulatory action in relation to a medicine that is authorised in more than one country.

Having assessed the available data on the risks with oral ketoconazole, the CHMP concluded that, although liver injury such as hepatitis is a known side effect of antifungal medicines, the incidence and the seriousness of liver injury with oral ketoconazole were higher than with other antifungals. The CHMP was concerned that reports of liver injury occurred early after starting treatment with recommended doses, and it was not possible to identify measures to adequately reduce this risk. The Committee also concluded that the clinical benefit of oral ketoconazole is uncertain as data on its effectiveness are limited and do not meet current standards, and alternative treatments are available.

Taking into account the increased rate of liver injury and the availability of alternative antifungal treatments, the CHMP concluded that the benefits did not outweigh the risks. Topical formulations of ketoconazole (such as creams, ointments and shampoos) can continue to be used as the amount of ketoconazole absorbed throughout the body is very low with these formulations.

The CHMP opinion was sent to the European Commission, which endorsed it and adopted a final legally binding decision valid throughout the EU on 11 October 2013.

The European Medicines Agency is aware that ketoconazole is used off-label for treating patients with Cushing’s syndrome. In order to ensure that these patients will not be left without treatment, national competent authorities may make these medicines available under controlled conditions.

Information to patients
  • Oral (by mouth) ketoconazole has been suspended following a review of data showing higher liver toxicity with this medicine compared with other antifungal medicines.
  • If you are currently taking oral ketoconazole for fungal infections, you should speak to your doctor at a routine appointment to discuss suitable alternative treatments.
  • If you are taking topical formulations of ketoconazole (such as creams, ointments and shampoos), you can continue your treatment, as the amount of ketoconazole absorbed throughout the body is very low with these formulations.
  • If you have any questions, you should contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Information to healthcare professionals

Healthcare professionals should follow these recommendations:

  • As oral ketoconazole is no longer recommended, doctors should review patients being treated with this medicine for fungal infections, with a view of stopping treatment or choosing an appropriate alternative treatment.
  • Topical ketoconazole formulations have very low systemic absorption and may continue to be used as currently approved.
  • Pharmacists should refer patients with a prescription of oral ketoconazole for fungal infections to their treating doctor.

The Agency’s recommendations are based on a review by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), which looked at available data on the benefits of oral ketoconazole and the risk of hepatotoxicity from pre-clinical and clinical studies, post-marketing spontaneous case reports, epidemiological studies and the scientific literature. The Committee also considered the advice from a group of experts in the treatment of infections.

  • Although the potential for hepatotoxicity is a class effect with azole antifungals, the data assessed show that the incidence and seriousness of hepatotoxicity is higher with ketoconazole than with other antifungal agents.1 Reported cases of hepatotoxicity included hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver failure with fatal outcomes or requiring liver transplantation.
  • The onset of hepatotoxicity occurred generally between 1 and 6 months after starting treatment, but has also been reported earlier than 1 month after starting treatment, and at the recommended daily dose of 200 mg.
  • The efficacy studies on oral ketoconazole are limited and have not been carried out in line with the most recently agreed guidelines2. There are also inadequate data to support the efficacy of ketoconazole when other treatments have failed or are not tolerated, or resistance has been detected.
  • The risk minimisation measures proposed, such as limiting the treatment duration or restricting the use to patients refractory or intolerant to alternative treatments and to physicians experienced in treating rare fungal infections, were not considered sufficient to reduce the risk of hepatotoxicity to an acceptable level.

References:

  1. Garcia Rodriguez et al. A cohort study on the risk of acute liver injury among users of ketoconazole and other antifungal drugs. Br J Clin Pharmacol 1999; 48(6):847-852.
  2. Guideline on the clinical evaluation of antifungal agents for the treatment and prophylaxis of invasive fungal disease CHMP/EWP/1343/01 Rev. 1, Apr 2010.
More about the medicine

Ketoconazole is an antifungal medicine used to treat infections caused by dermatophytes and yeasts. Ketoconazole taken orally (by mouth) has been authorised in the EU since 1980, and later topical (on the skin) formulations, such as creams, ointments and shampoos, have become available.

Oral formulations of ketoconazole have been authorised in the EU via national procedures, and are currently available in several EU Member States under various trade names, including Nizoral and Fungoral.

More about the procedure

The review of oral ketoconazole was initiated in July 2011 at the request of France, under Article 31 of Directive 2001/83/EC. In June 2011, the French medicines agency concluded that the benefit-risk balance of oral ketoconazole was negative and suspended the existing marketing authorisations in France. Consequently, the French agency asked the EMA to carry out a full assessment of the benefit-risk balance of oral ketoconazole-containing medicines and to issue an opinion on whether their marketing authorisations should be maintained, varied, suspended or withdrawn across the EU.

The review of oral ketoconazole was carried out by EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), responsible for all questions concerning medicines for human use, which adopted the EMA’s final opinion.
The CHMP opinion was forwarded to the European Commission, which issued a final legally binding decision valid throughout the EU.

To lift the suspension, the marketing authorisation holder for oral ketoconazole will have to provide convincing data that identify a group of patients in whom the benefits of the medicine outweigh their risks.

Name Language First published Last updated
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole BG = bălgarski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole ES = español 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole CS = čeština 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole DA = dansk 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole DE = Deutsch 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole ET = eesti keel 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole EL = elliniká 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole EN = English 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole FR = français 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole IT = italiano 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole LV = latviešu valoda 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole LT = lietuvių kalba 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole HU = magyar 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole MT = Malti 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole NL = Nederlands 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole PL = polski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole PT = português 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole RO = română 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole SK = slovenčina 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole SL = slovenščina 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole FI = suomi 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole SV = svenska 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole HR = Hrvatski 2014-06-13  

Key facts

Approved nameKetoconazole-containing medicines
International non-proprietary name (INN) or common name

ketoconazole

Associated namesNizoral, Fungoral
ClassAntifungal
Reference numberEMEA/H/A-31/1314
TypeArticle 31 referrals

This type of referral is triggered when the interest of the Community is involved, following concerns relating to the quality, safety or efficacy of a medicine or a class of medicines.

StatusEuropean Commission final decision
Opinion date25/07/2013

All documents

Name Language First published Last updated
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole BG = bălgarski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole ES = español 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole CS = čeština 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole DA = dansk 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole DE = Deutsch 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole ET = eesti keel 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole EL = elliniká 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole EN = English 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole FR = français 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole IT = italiano 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole LV = latviešu valoda 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole LT = lietuvių kalba 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole HU = magyar 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole MT = Malti 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole NL = Nederlands 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole PL = polski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole PT = português 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole RO = română 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole SK = slovenčina 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole SL = slovenščina 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole FI = suomi 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole SV = svenska 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole HR = Hrvatski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Assessment report (English only) 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I BG = bălgarski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I ES = español 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I CS = čeština 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I DA = dansk 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I DE = Deutsch 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I ET = eesti keel 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I EL = elliniká 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I EN = English 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I FR = français 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I IT = italiano 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I LV = latviešu valoda 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I LT = lietuvių kalba 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I HU = magyar 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I MT = Malti 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I NL = Nederlands 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I PL = polski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I PT = português 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I RO = română 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I SK = slovenčina 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I SL = slovenščina 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I FI = suomi 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I SV = svenska 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I HR = Hrvatski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I IS = Islenska 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex I NO = Norsk 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II BG = bălgarski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II ES = español 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II CS = čeština 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II DA = dansk 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II DE = Deutsch 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II ET = eesti keel 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II EL = elliniká 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II EN = English 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II FR = français 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II IT = italiano 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II LV = latviešu valoda 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II LT = lietuvių kalba 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II HU = magyar 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II MT = Malti 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II NL = Nederlands 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II PL = polski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II PT = português 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II RO = română 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II SK = slovenčina 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II SL = slovenščina 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II FI = suomi 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II SV = svenska 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex II HR = Hrvatski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III BG = bălgarski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III ES = español 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III CS = čeština 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III DA = dansk 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III DE = Deutsch 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III ET = eesti keel 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III EL = elliniká 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III EN = English 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III FR = français 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III IT = italiano 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III LV = latviešu valoda 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III LT = lietuvių kalba 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III HU = magyar 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III MT = Malti 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III NL = Nederlands 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III PL = polski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III PT = português 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III RO = română 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III SK = slovenčina 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III SL = slovenščina 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III FI = suomi 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III SV = svenska 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - Annex III HR = Hrvatski 2014-06-13  
Ketoconazole Article-31 referral - European Medicines Agency recommends suspension of marketing authorisations for oral ketoconazole (English only) 2013-07-26  

Document description

  • Questions and answers (Q&A) - easy-to-understand summary of key issues and Committee conclusions
  • Summary of Opinion - contains the CHMP opinion of the referred medicine(s)
  • List of the medicines affected by the referral (Annex I)
  • Scientific conclusions of the Committee (Annex II)

The following two documents are sometimes available:

  • Changes to the summary of product characteristics, labeling or package leaflet (also known as Annex III) - available when changes have been recommended by the Committee
  • Conditions of the marketing authorisation (also known as Annex IV) - available when the Committee recommends measures to be taken for the marketing authorisation(s) such as safety measures or extra studies

Current status:
European Commission final decision

More information on ketoconazole-containing medicines