Varicella zoster immune globulin (VARIZIG) administration up to 10 days after varicella exposure in pregnant women, immunocompromised participants, and infants: Varicella outcomes and safety results from a large, open-label, expanded-access program
Despite vaccination, there were more than 100,000 annual cases of varicella in the United States in 2013–2014. Individuals at highest risk of developing severe or complicated varicella include immunocompromised people, preterm infants, and pregnant women. Varicella zoster immune globulin (human) (VARIZIG) is recommended by the CDC for postexposure prophylaxis to prevent or attenuate varicella-zoster virus infection in high-risk individuals. Contemporary information on administration of VARIZIG is limited.
This open-label, expanded-access program provided VARIZIG to physician-identified, high-risk participants exposed to varicella. Participants included immunocompromised children/adults, infants (preterm, newborns whose mothers had varicella onset within 5 days before or 2 days after delivery, and those aged <1 year), and pregnant women. VARIZIG (125 IU/10 kg [up to 625 IU]) was administered intramuscularly, ideally within 96 hours, but up to 10 days, postexposure. Incidence of varicella rash and severity (>100 pox, pneumonia, or encephalitis) were assessed up to 42 days after administration.
The varicella outcome population (n = 507) included 263 immunocompromised participants (32 adults, 231 children), 137 pregnant women, 105 infants, and 2 healthy adults with no history of varicella. Varicella incidence was 4.5% in immunocompromised participants, 7.3% in pregnant women, and 11.5% in infants. The incidence of varicella was similar when comparing VARIZIG administration ≤ 96 hours vs > 96 hours (up to 10 days) postexposure in the entire population (6.2% vs. 9.4%, respectively), and also in each subgroup. Of 34 participants with varicella, 5 developed > 100 pox and 1 developed pneumonia and encephalitis. There were no product-related deaths and only 1 serious adverse event (serum sickness) considered probably related to VARIZIG.
Postexposure administration of VARIZIG was associated with low rates of varicella in high-risk participants, regardless of when administered within 10 days postexposure. VARIZIG was well-tolerated and safe in high-risk participants.