Vaccine Information: PENTACEL (Page 2 of 5)

6.2 Postmarketing Experience

The following additional adverse events have been spontaneously reported during the post-marketing use of Pentacel worldwide, since 1997. Between 1997 and 2007, Pentacel was primarily used in Canada. Because these events are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it may not be possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to vaccine exposure.

The following adverse events were included based on one or more of the following factors: severity, frequency of reporting, or strength of evidence for a causal relationship to Pentacel.

  • Cardiac disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
    Vomiting, diarrhea
  • General disorders and administration site conditions
    Injection site reactions (including inflammation, mass, abscess and sterile abscess), extensive swelling of the injected limb (including swelling that involved adjacent joints), vaccination failure/therapeutic response decreased (invasive H. influenzae type b disease)
  • Immune system disorders
    Anaphylaxis/anaphylactic reaction, hypersensitivity (such as rash and urticaria)
  • Infections and infestations
    Meningitis, rhinitis, viral infection
  • Metabolism and nutrition disorders
    Decreased appetite
  • Nervous system disorders
    Somnolence, HHE, depressed level of consciousness
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders
    Apnea, cough
  • Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders
    Erythema, skin discoloration
  • Vascular disorders Pallor


7.1 Concomitant Administration with Other Vaccines

In clinical trials, Pentacel was administered concomitantly with one or more of the following US licensed vaccines: hepatitis B vaccine, 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, MMR and varicella vaccines [see Adverse Reactions (6) and Clinical Studies (14)]. When Pentacel is given at the same time as another injectable vaccine(s), the vaccine(s) should be administered with different syringes and at different injection sites.

7.2 Immunosuppressive Treatments

Immunosuppressive therapies, including irradiation, antimetabolites, alkylating agents, cytotoxic drugs and corticosteroids (used in greater than physiologic doses), may reduce the immune response to Pentacel [see Warnings and Precautions (5.6)].

7.3 Drug/Laboratory Test Interactions

Antigenuria has been detected in some instances following receipt of ActHIB. Urine antigen detection may not have definite diagnostic value in suspected H. influenzae type b disease within one week following receipt of Pentacel. (6)


8.4 Pediatric Use

The safety and effectiveness of Pentacel was established in the age group 6 weeks through 18 months on the basis of clinical studies [see Clinical Trials Experience (6.1) and Clinical Studies (14)]. The safety and effectiveness of Pentacel in the age group 19 months through 4 years is supported by evidence in children 6 weeks through 18 months. The safety and effectiveness of Pentacel in infants less than 6 weeks of age and in children 5 to 16 years of age have not been established.


Pentacel consists of a Diphtheria and Tetanus Toxoids and Acellular Pertussis Adsorbed and Inactivated Poliovirus (DTaP-IPV) component and an ActHIB® component combined through reconstitution for intramuscular injection. ActHIB (Haemophilus b Conjugate Vaccine [Tetanus Toxoid Conjugate]), consists of H. influenzae type b capsular polysaccharide (polyribosyl-ribitol-phosphate [PRP]) covalently bound to tetanus toxoid (PRP-T). The DTaP-IPV component is supplied as a sterile liquid used to reconstitute the lyophilized ActHIB component to form Pentacel. Pentacel is a uniform, cloudy, white to off-white (yellow tinge) suspension.

Each 0.5 mL dose contains 15 Lf diphtheria toxoid, 5 Lf tetanus toxoid, acellular pertussis antigens [20 mcg detoxified pertussis toxin (PT), 20 mcg filamentous hemagglutinin (FHA), 3 mcg pertactin (PRN), 5 mcg fimbriae types 2 and 3 (FIM)], inactivated polioviruses [29 D-antigen units (DU) Type 1 (Mahoney), 7 DU Type 2 (MEF-1), 26 DU Type 3 (Saukett)] and 10 mcg PRP of H. influenzae type b covalently bound to 24 mcg of tetanus toxoid (PRP-T).

Other ingredients per 0.5 mL dose include 1.5 mg aluminum phosphate (0.33 mg aluminum) as the adjuvant, <8.1 mcg polysorbate 80, 3.3 mg (0.6% v/v) 2-phenoxyethanol (not as a preservative), 42.5 mg sucrose, 2 mcg to 7 mcg residual formaldehyde, <50 ng residual glutaraldehyde, ≤10 ng residual bovine serum albumin, <0.0001 pg streptomycin sulphate, <0.01 pg of neomycin and <0.000001 pg polymyxin B sulphate.

Corynebacterium diphtheriae is grown in modified Mueller’s growth medium. (7) After purification by ammonium sulfate fractionation, the diphtheria toxin is detoxified with formaldehyde and diafiltered.

Clostridium tetani is grown in modified Mueller-Miller casamino acid medium without beef heart infusion. (8) Tetanus toxin is detoxified with formaldehyde and purified by ammonium sulfate fractionation and diafiltration. Diphtheria and tetanus toxoids are individually adsorbed onto aluminum phosphate.

The acellular pertussis vaccine antigens are produced from Bordetella pertussis cultures grown in Stainer-Scholte medium (9) modified by the addition of casamino acids and dimethyl-beta-cyclodextrin. PT, FHA and PRN are isolated separately from the supernatant culture medium. FIM are extracted and copurified from the bacterial cells. The pertussis antigens are purified by sequential filtration, salt-precipitation, ultrafiltration and chromatography. PT is detoxified with glutaraldehyde. FHA is treated with formaldehyde and the residual aldehydes are removed by ultrafiltration. The individual antigens are adsorbed separately onto aluminum phosphate.

The Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 polioviruses are individually grown in Vero cells (a continuous line of monkey kidney cells). Prior to viral propagation, the cells are grown in Iscove’s medium, supplemented with calf serum. For viral propagation, the culture medium is replaced by M199 medium without calf serum. The viral harvests are concentrated and purified, then inactivated with formaldehyde to produce monovalent suspensions of each serotype. Specified quantities of monovalent suspensions of each serotype are mixed to produce the trivalent poliovirus concentrate.

The adsorbed diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis antigens are combined with aluminum phosphate (as adjuvant), 2-phenoxyethanol (not as a preservative) and water for injection, into an intermediate concentrate. The trivalent poliovirus concentrate is added and the DTaP-IPV component is diluted to its final concentration. The DTaP-IPV component does not contain a preservative.

Both diphtheria and tetanus toxoids induce at least 2 neutralizing units per mL in the guinea pig potency test. The potency of the acellular pertussis antigens is evaluated by the antibody response of immunized mice to detoxified PT, FHA, PRN and FIM as measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The potency of inactivated poliovirus antigens is determined by measuring antibody-mediated neutralization of poliovirus in sera from immunized rats.

PRP, a high molecular weight polymer, is prepared from the Haemophilus influenzae type b strain 1482 grown in a semi-synthetic medium. (10) The tetanus toxoid for conjugation to PRP is prepared by ammonium sulfate purification, and formalin inactivation of the toxin from cultures of Clostridium tetani (Harvard strain) grown in a modified Mueller and Miller medium. (11) The toxoid is filter sterilized prior to the conjugation process. The ActHIB component does not contain a preservative. Potency of the ActHIB component is specified on each lot by limits on the content of PRP polysaccharide and protein per dose and the proportion of polysaccharide and protein that is characterized as high molecular weight conjugate.

The vial stoppers for the DTaP-IPV and ActHIB components of Pentacel are not made with natural rubber latex.


12.1 Mechanism of Action


Diphtheria is an acute toxin-mediated disease caused by toxigenic strains of C. diphtheriae. Protection against disease is due to the development of neutralizing antibodies to diphtheria toxin. A serum diphtheria antitoxin level of 0.01 IU/mL is the lowest level giving some degree of protection. Antitoxin levels of at least 0.1 IU/mL are generally regarded as protective. (12) Levels of 1.0 IU/mL have been associated with long-term protection. (13)


Tetanus is an acute disease caused by an extremely potent neurotoxin produced by C. tetani. Protection against disease is due to the development of neutralizing antibodies to tetanus toxin. A serum tetanus antitoxin level of at least 0.01 IU/mL, measured by neutralization assay is considered the minimum protective level. (12) (14) A tetanus antitoxoid level ≥0.1 IU/mL as measured by the ELISA used in clinical studies of Pentacel is considered protective.


Pertussis (whooping cough) is a respiratory disease caused by B. pertussis. This Gram-negative coccobacillus produces a variety of biologically active components, though their role in either the pathogenesis of, or immunity to, pertussis has not been clearly defined.


Polioviruses, of which there are three serotypes (Types 1, 2, and 3) are enteroviruses. The presence of poliovirus type-specific neutralizing antibodies has been correlated with protection against poliomyelitis. (15)

Invasive Disease Due to H. influenzae Type b

H. influenzae type b can cause invasive disease such as meningitis and sepsis. Anti-PRP antibody has been shown to correlate with protection against invasive disease due to H. influenzae type b.

Based on data from passive antibody studies (16) and an efficacy study with H. influenzae type b polysaccharide vaccine in Finland, (17) a post-vaccination anti-PRP level of 0.15 mcg/mL has been accepted as a minimal protective level. Data from an efficacy study with H. influenzae type b polysaccharide vaccine in Finland indicate that a level >1.0 mcg/mL 3 weeks after vaccination predicts protection through a subsequent one-year period. (18) (19) These levels have been used to evaluate the effectiveness of Haemophilus b Conjugate Vaccines, including the ActHIB component of Pentacel.


13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Pentacel has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential or impairment of fertility. provides trustworthy package insert and label information about marketed drugs and vaccines as submitted by manufacturers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Package information is not reviewed or updated separately by Every individual vaccine label and package insert entry contains a unique identifier which can be used to secure further details directly from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and/or the FDA.

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