Potential clinical implications of substitution of generic cyclosporine formulations for cyclosporine microemulsion (Neoral) in transplant recipients

Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2004 Aug;60(6):389-95. doi: 10.1007/s00228-004-0774-8. Epub 2004 Jun 17.


Cyclosporine (CsA) is a critical-dose drug for which a minor change in absorption can have important clinical implications. Generic formulations of CsA are becoming more widely available, but standard criteria for bioequivalence require only that a single study in healthy volunteers demonstrate that mean pharmacokinetic parameters fall within 80-125% of the mean values for Neoral, the reference formulation of CsA. However, CsA absorption is known to differ between healthy volunteers and transplant patients and between different types of transplant patients, such that standard bioequivalence testing may be inadequate to ensure interchangeability of CsA formulations in all patients. The limited available clinical evidence has shown that stable renal transplant patients receiving Neoral have a significant reduction in mean CsA trough level after transfer to the Cicloral formulation. Mean pharmacokinetic values have been reported as equivalent following transfer to Gengraft in one study, but mean CsA trough fell and mean serum creatinine rose significantly in a separate trial. The only clinical outcomes data available are from a retrospective study of de novo renal transplant patients, which reported a significantly higher incidence of biopsy-proven acute rejection in patents receiving Gengraf versus Neoral (39% versus 25%, P<0.05). Until robust clinical data demonstrate that different formulations of CsA are interchangeable, it is advisable to prescribe CsA by brand, and any transfer to a different CsA formulation should be undertaken with close supervision and only at the direction of the transplant physician.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cyclosporine / administration & dosage*
  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use*
  • Emulsions
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Therapeutic Equivalency


  • Emulsions
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclosporine