Venlafaxine extended-release tablets are available as:
– 37.5 mg tablets (White to off white, film coated, round biconvex tablets printed with “392” in black ink)
– 75 mg tablets (White to off white, film coated, round biconvex tablets printed with “393” in black ink)
– 150 mg tablets (White to off white, film coated, round biconvex tablets printed with “394” in black ink)
– 225 mg tablets (White to off white, film coated, round biconvex tablets printed with “395” in black ink)
The use of MAOI’s intended to treat psychiatric disorders with venlafaxine extended-release tablets or within 7 days of stopping treatment with venlafaxine extended-release tablets is contraindicated because of an increased risk of serotonin syndrome. The use of venlafaxine 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 venlafaxine 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 (2.7) and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS (5.2) ].
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 trials 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 18-24) 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 trials in children and adolescents with MDD, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 24 short-term trials of 9 antidepressant drugs in over 4400 patients. The pooled analyses of placebo-controlled trials in adults with MDD or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 295 short-term trials (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 1000 patients treated) are provided in Table 1.
No suicides occurred in any of the pediatric trials. There were suicides in the adult trials, 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 trials 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 (2.5) and Warnings and Precautions (5.5) ].
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 health care providers. Such monitoring should include daily observation by families and caregivers.
Prescriptions for venlafaxine 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.
A major depressive episode may be the initial presentation of bipolar disorder. It is generally believed (though not established in controlled trials) 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 venlafaxine extended-release tablets are not approved for use in treating bipolar depression.
The development of a potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome has been reported with SNRIs and SSRIs, including venlafaxine extended-release tablets, alone but particularly with concomitant use of other serotonergic drugs (including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, tryptophan, busipirone, 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 venlafaxine extended-release tablets with MAOIs intended to treat psychiatric disorders is contraindicated. Venlafaxine 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 venlafaxine extended-release tablets. Venlafaxine extended-release tablets should be discontinued before initiating treatment with the MAOI. [ see CONTRAINDICATIONS (4.1) and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION (2.6 and 2.7) ].
If concomitant use of venlafaxine extended-release tablets with other serotonergic drugs including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, buspirone, tryptophan, amphetamines, and St. John’s Wort is clinically warranted, patients should be aware of a potential increased risk for serotonin syndrome, particularly during treatment initiation and dose increases.
Treatment with venlafaxine extended-release tablets and any concomitant serotonergic agents should be discontinued immediately if the above events occur and supportive symptomatic treatment should be initiated.
Venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsule treatment is associated with sustained hypertension (defined as treatment-emergent supine diastolic blood pressure (SDBP) ≥90 mm Hg and ≥10 mm Hg above baseline for 3 consecutive on-therapy visits) (see Table 2).
An analysis for patients in venlafaxine hydrochloride immediate-release tablet studies meeting criteria for sustained hypertension revealed a dose-dependent increase in the incidence of sustained hypertension for immediate-release venlafaxine hydrochloride (see Table 3).
An insufficient number of patients received mean doses of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules over 300 mg/day to fully evaluate the incidence of sustained increases in blood pressure at these higher doses.
In premarketing major depressive disorder studies, 0.7% (5/705) of the venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsule-treated patients discontinued treatment because of elevated blood pressure. Among these patients, most of the blood pressure increases were in a modest range (12 to 16 mm Hg, SDBP). In other clinical studies, 0.6% (5/771) of the venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsule-treated patients discontinued treatment because of elevated blood pressure. In these patients, the blood pressure increases were modest (1 to 24 mm Hg, SDBP).
Sustained increases of SDBP could have adverse consequences. Cases of elevated blood pressure requiring immediate treatment have been reported in post marketing experience.
Pre-existing hypertension should be controlled before treatment with venlafaxine. It is recommended that patients receiving venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release tablets have regular monitoring of blood pressure. For patients who experience a sustained increase in blood pressure while receiving venlafaxine, either dose reduction or discontinuation should be considered.
Elevations in Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure
In placebo-controlled premarketing studies, there were changes in mean blood pressure (see Table 4 for mean change in supine systolic and supine diastolic blood pressure). Across most indications, a dose-related increase in supine systolic and diastolic blood pressure was evident in venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsule-treated patients.
Across all clinical trials, 1.4% of patients in the venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsule-treated groups experienced a ≥15 mm Hg increase in supine diastolic blood pressure with blood pressure ≥105 mm Hg compared to 0.9% of patients in the placebo groups. Similarly, 1% of patients in the venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsule-treated groups experienced a ≥20 mm Hg increase in supine systolic blood pressure with blood pressure ≥180 mm Hg compared to 0.3% of patients in the placebo groups.
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