Prescription Drug Information: Desvenlafaxine (Page 2 of 10)

Screening Patients for Bipolar Disorder

A major depressive episode may be the initial presentation of bipolar disorder. It is generally believed (though not established in controlled studies) that treating such an episode with an antidepressant alone may increase the likelihood of precipitation of a mixed/manic episode in patients at risk for bipolar disorder. Whether any of the symptoms described above represent such a conversion is unknown. However, prior to initiating treatment with an antidepressant, patients with depressive symptoms should be adequately screened to determine if they are at risk for bipolar disorder; such screening should include a detailed psychiatric history, including a family history of suicide, bipolar disorder, and depression. It should be noted that desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets are not approved for use in treating bipolar depression.

5.2 Serotonin Syndrome

The development of a potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome has been reported with SNRIs and SSRIs, including desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets, alone but particularly with concomitant use of other serotonergic drugs (including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, tryptophan, buspirone, amphetamines, and St. John’s Wort), and with drugs that impair metabolism of serotonin (in particular, MAOIs, both those intended to treat psychiatric disorders and also others, such as linezolid and intravenous methylene blue).

Serotonin syndrome symptoms may include mental status changes (e.g., agitation, hallucinations, delirium, and coma), autonomic instability (e.g., tachycardia, labile blood pressure, dizziness, diaphoresis, flushing, hyperthermia), neuromuscular symptoms (e.g., tremor, rigidity, myoclonus, hyperreflexia, incoordination), seizures, and/or gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea). Patients should be monitored for the emergence of serotonin syndrome.

The concomitant use of desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets with MAOIs intended to treat psychiatric disorders is contraindicated. Desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets should also not be started in a patient who is being treated with MAOIs such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue. All reports with methylene blue that provided information on the route of administration involved intravenous administration in the dose range of 1 mg/kg to 8 mg/kg. No reports involved the administration of methylene blue by other routes (such as oral tablets or local tissue injection) or at lower doses. There may be circumstances when it is necessary to initiate treatment with a MAOI such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue in a patient taking desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets. Desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets should be discontinued before initiating treatment with the MAOI [see Contraindications (4) and Dosage and Administration (2.6)].

If concomitant use of desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets with other serotonergic drugs, including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, buspirone, amphetamines, tryptophan, and St. John’s Wort is clinically warranted, patients should be made aware of a potential increased risk for serotonin syndrome, particularly during treatment initiation and dose increases.

Treatment with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets and any concomitant serotonergic agents should be discontinued immediately if the above events occur and supportive symptomatic treatment should be initiated.

5.3 Elevated Blood Pressure

Patients receiving desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets should have regular monitoring of blood pressure since increases in blood pressure were observed in clinical studies [see Adverse Reactions (6.1)]. Pre-existing hypertension should be controlled before initiating treatment with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets. Caution should be exercised in treating patients with pre-existing hypertension, cardiovascular, or cerebrovascular conditions that might be compromised by increases in blood pressure. Cases of elevated blood pressure requiring immediate treatment have been reported with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets.

Sustained blood pressure increases could have adverse consequences. For patients who experience a sustained increase in blood pressure while receiving desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets, either dose reduction or discontinuation should be considered [see Adverse Reactions (6.1)].

5.4 Abnormal Bleeding

SSRIs and SNRIs, including desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets, may increase the risk of bleeding events. Concomitant use of aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, warfarin, and other anticoagulants may add to this risk. Case reports and epidemiological studies (case-control and cohort design) have demonstrated an association between use of drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake and the occurrence of gastrointestinal bleeding. Bleeding events related to SSRIs and SNRIs have ranged from ecchymosis, hematoma, epistaxis, and petechiae to life-threatening hemorrhages. Patients should be cautioned about the risk of bleeding associated with the concomitant use of desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets and NSAIDs, aspirin, or other drugs that affect coagulation or bleeding.

5.5 Angle Closure Glaucoma

Angle Closure Glaucoma

The pupillary dilation that occurs following use of many antidepressant drugs including desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets may trigger an angle closure attack in a patient with anatomically narrow angles who does not have a patent iridectomy.

5.6 Activation of Mania/Hypomania

During all MDD phase 2 and phase 3 studies, mania was reported for approximately 0.02% of patients treated with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets. Activation of mania/hypomania has also been reported in a small proportion of patients with major affective disorder who were treated with other marketed antidepressants. As with all antidepressants, desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets should be used cautiously in patients with a history or family history of mania or hypomania.

5.7 Discontinuation Syndrome

Discontinuation symptoms have been systematically and prospectively evaluated in patients treated with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets during clinical studies in Major Depressive Disorder. Abrupt discontinuation or dose reduction has been associated with the appearance of new symptoms that include dizziness, nausea, headache, irritability, insomnia, diarrhea, anxiety, fatigue, abnormal dreams, and hyperhidrosis. In general, discontinuation events occurred more frequently with longer duration of therapy.

During marketing of SNRIs (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors), and SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), there have been spontaneous reports of adverse events occurring upon discontinuation of these drugs, particularly when abrupt, including the following: dysphoric mood, irritability, agitation, dizziness, sensory disturbances (e.g., paresthesia, such as electric shock sensations), anxiety, confusion, headache, lethargy, emotional lability, insomnia, hypomania, tinnitus, and seizures. While these events are generally self-limiting, there have been reports of serious discontinuation symptoms.

Patients should be monitored for these symptoms when discontinuing treatment with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets. 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 [see Dosage and Administration (2.4) and Adverse Reactions (6.1)].

5.8 Seizure

Cases of seizure have been reported in pre-marketing clinical studies with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets. Desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets have not been systematically evaluated in patients with a seizure disorder. Patients with a history of seizures were excluded from pre-marketing clinical studies. Desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets should be prescribed with caution in patients with a seizure disorder.

5.9 Hyponatremia

Hyponatremia may occur as a result of treatment with SSRIs and SNRIs, including desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets. In many cases, this hyponatremia appears to be the result of the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH). Cases with serum sodium lower than 110 mmol/L have been reported. Elderly patients may be at greater risk of developing hyponatremia with SSRIs and SNRIs. Also, patients taking diuretics or who are otherwise volume depleted can be at greater risk [see Use in Specific Populations (8.5) and Clinical Pharmacology (12)]. Discontinuation of desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets should be considered in patients with symptomatic hyponatremia and appropriate medical intervention should be instituted.

Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia include headache, difficulty concentrating, memory impairment, confusion, weakness, and unsteadiness, which can lead to falls. Signs and symptoms associated with more severe and/or acute cases have included hallucination, syncope, seizure, coma, respiratory arrest, and death.

5.10 Interstitial Lung Disease and Eosinophilic Pneumonia

Interstitial lung disease and eosinophilic pneumonia associated with venlafaxine (the parent drug of desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets) therapy have been rarely reported. The possibility of these adverse events should be considered in patients treated with desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets who present with progressive dyspnea, cough, or chest discomfort. Such patients should undergo a prompt medical evaluation, and discontinuation of desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets should be considered.

6 ADVERSE REACTIONS

The following adverse reactions are discussed in greater detail in other sections of the label.

Hypersensitivity [see Contraindications (4)]
Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Adolescents and Young Adults [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)]
Serotonin Syndrome [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)]
Elevated Blood Pressure [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)]
Abnormal Bleeding [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4)]
Angle Closure Glaucoma [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)]
Activation of Mania/Hypomania [see Warnings and Precautions (5.6)]
Discontinuation Syndrome [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7)]
Seizure [see Warnings and Precautions (5.8)]
Hyponatremia [see Warnings and Precautions (5.9)]
Interstitial Lung Disease and Eosinophilic Pneumonia [see Warnings and Precautions (5.10)]

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