Prescription Drug Information: Desvenlafaxine

DESVENLAFAXINE- desvenlafaxine succinate tablet, film coated, extended release
Carilion Materials Management

WARNING: SUICIDAL THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIORS

Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies. These studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior with antidepressant use in patients over age 24; there was a reduction in risk with antidepressant use in patients aged 65 and older [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].

In patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy, monitor closely for worsening, and for emergence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Advise families and caregivers of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].

Desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets are not approved for use in pediatric patients [see Use in Specific Populations (8.4)].

1 INDICATIONS AND USAGE

Desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets, a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), are indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) [see Clinical Studies (14) and Dosage and Administration (2.1)]. The efficacy of desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets has been established in four short-term (8-week, placebo-controlled studies) and two maintenance studies in adult outpatients who met DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder.

2 DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION

2.1 General Instruction for Use

The recommended dose for desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets is 50 mg once daily, with or without food. The 50 mg dose is both a starting dose and the therapeutic dose. Desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets should be taken at approximately the same time each day. Tablets must be swallowed whole with fluid and not divided, crushed, chewed, or dissolved.

In clinical studies, doses of 10 mg to 400 mg per day were studied. In clinical studies, doses of 50 mg to 400 mg per day were shown to be effective, although no additional benefit was demonstrated at doses greater than 50 mg per day and adverse reactions and discontinuations were more frequent at higher doses.

The 25 mg per day dose is intended for a gradual reduction in dose when discontinuing treatment. When discontinuing therapy, gradual dose reduction is recommended whenever possible to minimize discontinuation symptoms [see Dosage and Administration (2.4) and Warnings and Precautions (5.9)].

2.2 Special Populations

Patients with Renal Impairment

The maximum recommended dose in patients with moderate renal impairment (24-hr creatinine clearance [CrCl] = 30 mL/min to 50 mL/min, Cockcroft-Gault [C-G]) is 50 mg per day. The maximum recommended dose in patients with severe renal impairment (24-hr CrCl less than 30 mL/min, C-G) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is 25 mg every day or 50 mg every other day. Supplemental doses should not be given to patients after dialysis [see Use in Specific Populations (8.6) and Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].

Patients with Hepatic Impairment

The recommended dose in patients with moderate to severe hepatic impairment is 50 mg per day. Dose escalation above 100 mg per day is not recommended [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].

2.3 Maintenance/Continuation/Extended Treatment

It is generally agreed that acute episodes of major depressive disorder require several months or longer of sustained pharmacologic therapy. Longer-term efficacy of desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets (50 mg to 400 mg) was established in two maintenance trials [see Clinical Studies (14)]. Patients should be periodically reassessed to determine the need for continued treatment.

2.4 Discontinuing Desvenlafaxine Extended-Release Tablets

Symptoms associated with discontinuation of desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets, other SNRIs and SSRIs have been reported [see Warnings and Precautions (5.9)]. Patients should be monitored for these symptoms when discontinuing treatment. A gradual reduction in the dose rather than abrupt cessation is recommended whenever possible. If intolerable symptoms occur following a decrease in the dose or upon discontinuation of treatment, then resuming the previously prescribed dose may be considered. Subsequently, the physician may continue decreasing the dose, but at a more gradual rate.

2.5 Switching Patients From Other Antidepressants to Desvenlafaxine Extended-Release Tablets

Discontinuation symptoms have been reported when switching patients from other antidepressants, including venlafaxine, to desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets. Tapering of the initial antidepressant may be necessary to minimize discontinuation symptoms.

2.6 Switching Patients To or From a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI) Intended to Treat Psychiatric Disorders

At least 14 days should elapse between discontinuation of an MAOI intended to treat psychiatric disorders and initiation of therapy with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets. Conversely, at least 7 days should be allowed after stopping desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets before starting an MAOI intended to treat psychiatric disorders [see Contraindications (4)].

Use of Desvenlafaxine Extended-Release Tablets with Other MAOIs Such as Linezolid or Methylene Blue

Do not start desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets in a patient who is being treated with linezolid or intravenous methylene blue because there is increased risk of serotonin syndrome. In a patient who requires more urgent treatment of a psychiatric condition, other interventions, including hospitalization, should be considered [see Contraindications (4)].

In some cases, a patient already receiving desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets therapy may require urgent treatment with linezolid or intravenous methylene blue. If acceptable alternatives to linezolid or intravenous methylene blue treatment are not available and the potential benefits of linezolid or intravenous methylene blue treatment are judged to outweigh the risks of serotonin syndrome in a particular patient, desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets should be stopped promptly, and linezolid or intravenous methylene blue can be administered. The patient should be monitored for symptoms of serotonin syndrome for 7 days or until 24 hours after the last dose of linezolid or intravenous methylene blue, whichever comes first. Therapy with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets may be resumed 24 hours after the last dose of linezolid or intravenous methylene blue [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)].

The risk of administering methylene blue by non-intravenous routes (such as oral tablets or by local injection) or in intravenous doses much lower than 1 mg/kg with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets is unclear. The clinician should, nevertheless, be aware of the possibility of emergent symptoms of serotonin syndrome with such use [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)].

3 DOSAGE FORMS AND STRENGTHS

Desvenlafaxine Extended-Release Tablets are available containing 76 mg or 152 mg of desvenlafaxine succinate equivalent to 50 mg or 100 mg of desvenlafaxine, respectively.

The 50 mg tablets are pink, film-coated, round, unscored tablets debossed with M on one side of the tablet and DF over 50 on the other side.
The 100 mg tablets are dark pink, film-coated, round, unscored tablets debossed with M on one side of the tablet and DF over 100 on the other side.

4 CONTRAINDICATIONS

Hypersensitivity to desvenlafaxine succinate, venlafaxine hydrochloride or to any excipients in the desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets formulation. Angioedema has been reported in patients treated with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets [see Adverse Reactions (6.1)].
The use of MAOIs intended to treat psychiatric disorders with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets or within 7 days of stopping treatment with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets is contraindicated because of an increased risk of serotonin syndrome. The use of desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets within 14 days of stopping an MAOI intended to treat psychiatric disorders is also contraindicated [see Dosage and Administration (2.6) and Warnings and Precautions (5.2)].
Starting desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets in a patient who is being treated with MAOIs such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue is also contraindicated because of an increased risk of serotonin syndrome [see Dosage and Administration (2.6) and Warnings and Precautions (5.2)].

5 WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS

5.1 Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Children, Adolescents and Young Adults

Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), both adult and pediatric, may experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence of suicidal ideation and behavior (suicidality) or unusual changes in behavior, whether or not they are taking antidepressant medications, and this risk may persist until significant remission occurs. Suicide is a known risk of depression and certain other psychiatric disorders, and these disorders themselves are the strongest predictors of suicide. There has been a long-standing concern, however, that antidepressants may have a role in inducing worsening of depression and the emergence of suicidality in certain patients during the early phases of treatment. Pooled analyses of short-term placebo-controlled studies of antidepressant drugs (SSRIs and others) showed that these drugs increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 18 to 24) with major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Short-term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24; there was a reduction with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older.

The pooled analyses of placebo-controlled studies in children and adolescents with MDD, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 24 short-term studies of 9 antidepressant drugs in over 4,400 patients. The pooled analyses of placebo-controlled studies in adults with MDD or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 295 short-term studies (median duration of 2 months) of 11 antidepressant drugs in over 77,000 patients. There was considerable variation in risk of suicidality among drugs, but a tendency toward an increase in the younger patients for almost all drugs studied. There were differences in absolute risk of suicidality across the different indications, with the highest incidence in MDD. The risk differences (drug vs. placebo), however, were relatively stable within age strata and across indications. These risk differences (drug-placebo difference in the number of cases of suicidality per 1,000 patients treated) are provided in Table 1.

Table 1:

Age Range

Drug-Placebo Difference in Number of Cases of Suicidality per 1,000 Patients Treated

Increases Compared to Placebo

< 18

14 additional cases

18 to 24

5 additional cases

Decreases Compared to Placebo

25 to 64

1 fewer case

≥ 65

6 fewer cases

No suicides occurred in any of the pediatric studies. There were suicides in the adult studies, but the number was not sufficient to reach any conclusion about drug effect on suicide.

It is unknown whether the suicidality risk extends to longer-term use, i.e., beyond several months. However, there is substantial evidence from placebo-controlled maintenance studies in adults with depression that the use of antidepressants can delay the recurrence of depression.

All patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy, or at times of dose changes, either increases or decreases.

The following symptoms, anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania, have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric. Although a causal link between the emergence of such symptoms and either the worsening of depression and/or the emergence of suicidal impulses has not been established, there is concern that such symptoms may represent precursors to emerging suicidality.

Consideration should be given to changing the therapeutic regimen, including possibly discontinuing the medication, in patients whose depression is persistently worse, or who are experiencing emergent suicidality or symptoms that might be precursors to worsening depression or suicidality, especially if these symptoms are severe, abrupt in onset, or were not part of the patient’s presenting symptoms.

If the decision has been made to discontinue treatment, medication should be tapered, as rapidly as is feasible, but with recognition that abrupt discontinuation can be associated with certain symptoms [see Dosage and Administration (2.4) and Warnings and Precautions (5.7) for a description of the risks of discontinuation of desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets].

Families and caregivers of patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder or other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric, should be alerted about the need to monitor patients for the emergence of agitation, irritability, unusual changes in behavior, and the other symptoms described above, as well as the emergence of suicidality, and to report such symptoms immediately to healthcare providers. Such monitoring should include daily observation by families and caregivers.

Prescriptions for desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets should be written for the smallest quantity of tablets consistent with good patient management, in order to reduce the risk of overdose.

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