Divalproex Sodium: Package Insert and Label Information (Page 6 of 8)

8.5 Geriatric Use

No patients above the age of 65 years were enrolled in double-blind prospective clinical trials of mania associated with bipolar illness. In a case review study of 583 patients, 72 patients (12%) were greater than 65 years of age. A higher percentage of patients above 65 years of age reported accidental injury, infection, pain, somnolence, and tremor. Discontinuation of valproate was occasionally associated with the latter two events. It is not clear whether these events indicate additional risk or whether they result from preexisting medical illness and concomitant medication use among these patients.

A study of elderly patients with dementia revealed drug related somnolence and discontinuation for somnolence [see Warnings and Precautions (5.14)]. The starting dose should be reduced in these patients, and dosage reductions or discontinuation should be considered in patients with excessive somnolence [see Dosage and Administration (2.5)].

There is insufficient information available to discern the safety and effectiveness of valproate for the prophylaxis of migraines in patients over 65.

The capacity of elderly patients (age range: 68 to 89 years) to eliminate valproate has been shown to be reduced compared to younger adults (age range: 22 to 26 years) [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].

8.6 Effect of Disease

Liver Disease

Liver disease impairs the capacity to eliminate valproate [see Boxed Warning, Contraindications (4), Warnings and Precautions (5.1), and Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].


Overdosage with valproate may result in somnolence, heart block, deep coma, and hypernatremia. Fatalities have been reported; however patients have recovered from valproate levels as high as 2,120 mcg/mL.

In overdose situations, the fraction of drug not bound to protein is high and hemodialysis or tandem hemodialysis plus hemoperfusion may result in significant removal of drug. The benefit of gastric lavage or emesis will vary with the time since ingestion. General supportive measures should be applied with particular attention to the maintenance of adequate urinary output.

Naloxone has been reported to reverse the CNS depressant effects of valproate overdosage. Because naloxone could theoretically also reverse the antiepileptic effects of valproate, it should be used with caution in patients with epilepsy.


Divalproex sodium is a stable co-ordination compound comprised of sodium valproate and valproic acid in a 1:1 molar relationship and formed during the partial neutralization of valproic acid with 0.5 equivalent of sodium hydroxide. Chemically it is designated as sodium hydrogen bis(2-propylpentanoate). Divalproex sodium has the following structure:

(click image for full-size original)

Divalproex sodium, USP occurs as a white powder with a characteristic odor.

Divalproex sodium extended-release tablets USP, 250 mg and 500 mg are for oral administration. Divalproex sodium extended-release tablets, USP contain divalproex sodium, USP in a once-a-day extended-release formulation equivalent to 250 and 500 mg of valproic acid.

Inactive Ingredients

Divalproex sodium extended-release tablets USP, 250 mg and 500 mg: ammonium hydroxide, ethyl acrylate and methyl methacrylate co-polymer dispersion, hypromellose, iron oxide, isopropyl alcohol, lactose monohydrate, macrogol, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, n-butyl alcohol, polyvinyl alcohol, propylene glycol, shellac, silicon dioxide, talc, and titanium dioxide.

Meet USP Dissolution Test 10.


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Divalproex sodium dissociates to the valproate ion in the gastrointestinal tract. The mechanisms by which valproate exerts its therapeutic effects have not been established. It has been suggested that its activity in epilepsy is related to increased brain concentrations of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

The relationship between plasma concentration and clinical response is not well documented. One contributing factor is the nonlinear, concentration dependent protein binding of valproate which affects the clearance of the drug. Thus, monitoring of total serum valproate may not provide a reliable index of the bioactive valproate species.

For example, because the plasma protein binding of valproate is concentration dependent, the free fraction increases from approximately 10% at 40 mcg/mL to 18.5% at 130 mcg/mL. Higher than expected free fractions occur in the elderly, in hyperlipidemic patients, and in patients with hepatic and renal diseases.


The therapeutic range in epilepsy is commonly considered to be 50 mcg/mL to 100 mcg/mL of total valproate, although some patients may be controlled with lower or higher plasma concentrations.


In placebo-controlled clinical trials of acute mania, patients were dosed to clinical response with trough plasma concentrations between 85 mcg/mL and 125 mcg/mL [see Dosage and Administration (2.1)].

12.3 Pharmacokinetics


The absolute bioavailability of divalproex sodium extended-release tablets administered as a single dose after a meal was approximately 90% relative to intravenous infusion.

When given in equal total daily doses, the bioavailability of divalproex sodium extended-release tablets is less than that of divalproex sodium delayed-release tablets. In five multiple-dose studies in healthy subjects (N=82) and in subjects with epilepsy (N=86), when administered under fasting and nonfasting conditions, divalproex sodium extended-release tablets given once daily produced an average bioavailability of 89% relative to an equal total daily dose of divalproex sodium delayed-release tablets given BID, TID, or QID. The median time to maximum plasma valproate concentrations (Cmax ) after divalproex sodium extended-release tablets administration ranged from 4 to 17 hours. After multiple once-daily dosing of divalproex sodium extended-release tablets, the peak-to-trough fluctuation in plasma valproate concentrations was 10% to 20% lower than that of regular divalproex sodium delayed-release tablets given BID, TID, or QID.

Conversion from Divalproex Sodium Delayed-Release to Divalproex Sodium Extended-Release

When divalproex sodium extended-release is given in doses 8% to 20% higher than the total daily dose of divalproex sodium delayed-release, the two formulations are bioequivalent. In two randomized, crossover studies, multiple daily doses of divalproex sodium delayed-release were compared to 8% to 20% higher once-daily doses of divalproex sodium extended-release. In these two studies, divalproex sodium extended-release and divalproex sodium delayed-release regimens were equivalent with respect to area under the curve (AUC; a measure of the extent of bioavailability). Additionally, valproate Cmax was lower, and Cmin was either higher or not different, for divalproex sodium extended-release relative to divalproex sodium delayed-release regimens (see Table 8).

Table 8. Bioavailability of Divalproex Sodium Extended-Release Tablets Relative to Divalproex Sodium Delayed-Release When Divalproex Sodium Extended-Release Dose is 8% to 20% Higher

Study Population


Relative Bioavailability

Divalproex Sodium Extended-Release vs. Divalproex Sodium Delayed-Release




Healthy Volunteers (N=35)

1,000 mg & 1,500 mg Divalproex Sodium Extended-Release vs. 875 mg & 1,250 mg Divalproex Sodium Delayed-Release




Patients with epilepsy on concomitant enzyme-inducing antiepilepsy drugs (N = 64)

1,000 mg to 5,000 mg Divalproex Sodium Extended-Release vs. 875 mg to 4,250 mg Divalproex Sodium Delayed-Release




Concomitant antiepilepsy drugs (topiramate, phenobarbital, carbamazepine, phenytoin, and lamotrigine were evaluated) that induce the cytochrome P450 isozyme system did not significantly alter valproate bioavailability when converting between divalproex sodium delayed-release and divalproex sodium extended-release.


Protein Binding

The plasma protein binding of valproate is concentration dependent and the free fraction increases from approximately 10% at 40 mcg/mL to 18.5% at 130 mcg/mL. Protein binding of valproate is reduced in the elderly, in patients with chronic hepatic diseases, in patients with renal impairment, and in the presence of other drugs (e.g., aspirin). Conversely, valproate may displace certain protein-bound drugs (e.g., phenytoin, carbamazepine, warfarin, and tolbutamide) [see Drug Interactions (7.2) for more detailed information on the pharmacokinetic interactions of valproate with other drugs].

CNS Distribution

Valproate concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) approximate unbound concentrations in plasma (about 10% of total concentration).


Valproate is metabolized almost entirely by the liver. In adult patients on monotherapy, 30% to 50% of an administered dose appears in urine as a glucuronide conjugate. Mitochondrial β-oxidation is the other major metabolic pathway, typically accounting for over 40% of the dose. Usually, less than 15% to 20% of the dose is eliminated by other oxidative mechanisms. Less than 3% of an administered dose is excreted unchanged in urine.

The relationship between dose and total valproate concentration is nonlinear; concentration does not increase proportionally with the dose, but rather, increases to a lesser extent due to saturable plasma protein binding. The kinetics of unbound drug are linear.


Mean plasma clearance and volume of distribution for total valproate are 0.56 L/hr/1.73 m2 and 11 L/1.73 m2 , respectively. Mean plasma clearance and volume of distribution for free valproate are 4.6 L/hr/1.73 m2 and 92 L/1.73 m2. Mean terminal half-life for valproate monotherapy ranged from 9 to 16 hours following oral dosing regimens of 250 mg to 1,000 mg.

The estimates cited apply primarily to patients who are not taking drugs that affect hepatic metabolizing enzyme systems. For example, patients taking enzyme-inducing antiepileptic drugs (carbamazepine, phenytoin, and phenobarbital) will clear valproate more rapidly. Because of these changes in valproate clearance, monitoring of antiepileptic concentrations should be intensified whenever concomitant antiepileptics are introduced or withdrawn.

Special Populations

Effect of Age


The valproate pharmacokinetic profile following administration of divalproex sodium extended-release was characterized in a multiple-dose, non-fasting, open label, multi-center study in children and adolescents. Divalproex sodium extended-release once daily doses ranged from 250 mg to 1,750 mg. Once daily administration of divalproex sodium extended-release in pediatric patients (10 to 17 years) produced plasma VPA concentration-time profiles similar to those that have been observed in adults.


The capacity of elderly patients (age range: 68 to 89 years) to eliminate valproate has been shown to be reduced compared to younger adults (age range: 22 to 26 years). Intrinsic clearance is reduced by 39%; the free fraction is increased by 44%. Accordingly, the initial dosage should be reduced in the elderly [see Dosage and Administration (2.4)].

Effect of Sex

There are no differences in the body surface area adjusted unbound clearance between males and females (4.8±0.17 and 4.7±0.07 L/hr per 1.73 m2 , respectively).

Effect of Race

The effects of race on the kinetics of valproate have not been studied.

Effect of Disease

Liver Disease

Liver disease impairs the capacity to eliminate valproate. In one study, the clearance of free valproate was decreased by 50% in 7 patients with cirrhosis and by 16% in 4 patients with acute hepatitis, compared with 6 healthy subjects. In that study, the half-life of valproate was increased from 12 to 18 hours. Liver disease is also associated with decreased albumin concentrations and larger unbound fractions (2 to 2.6 fold increase) of valproate. Accordingly, monitoring of total concentrations may be misleading since free concentrations may be substantially elevated in patients with hepatic disease whereas total concentrations may appear to be normal [see Boxed Warning, Contraindications (4), and Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].

Renal Disease

A slight reduction (27%) in the unbound clearance of valproate has been reported in patients with renal failure (creatinine clearance < 10 mL/minute); however, hemodialysis typically reduces valproate concentrations by about 20%. Therefore, no dosage adjustment appears to be necessary in patients with renal failure. Protein binding in these patients is substantially reduced; thus, monitoring total concentrations may be misleading.


13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, and Impairment of Fertility


Valproate was administered orally to rats and mice at doses of 80 mg/kg/day and 170 mg/kg/day (less than the maximum recommended human dose on a mg/m2 basis) for two years. The primary findings were an increase in the incidence of subcutaneous fibrosarcomas in high-dose male rats receiving valproate and a dose-related trend for benign pulmonary adenomas in male mice receiving valproate.


Valproate was not mutagenic in an in vitro bacterial assay (Ames test), did not produce dominant lethal effects in mice, and did not increase chromosome aberration frequency in an in vivo cytogenetic study in rats. Increased frequencies of sister chromatid exchange (SCE) have been reported in a study of epileptic children taking valproate; this association was not observed in another study conducted in adults.

Impairment of Fertility

In chronic toxicity studies in juvenile and adult rats and dogs, administration of valproate resulted in testicular atrophy and reduced spermatogenesis at oral doses of 400 mg/kg/day or greater in rats (approximately equal to or greater than the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) on a mg/m2 basis) and 150 mg/kg/day or greater in dogs (approximately equal to or greater than the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis). Fertility studies in rats have shown no effect on fertility at oral doses of valproate up to 350 mg/kg/day (approximately equal to the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis) for 60 days.


14.1 Mania

The effectiveness of divalproex sodium extended-release for the treatment of acute mania is based in part on studies establishing the effectiveness of divalproex sodium delayed-release tablets for this indication. Divalproex sodium extended-release’s effectiveness was confirmed in one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group, 3-week, multicenter study. The study was designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of divalproex sodium extended-release in the treatment of bipolar I disorder, manic or mixed type, in adults. Adult male and female patients who had a current DSM-IV TR primary diagnosis of bipolar I disorder, manic or mixed type, and who were hospitalized for acute mania, were enrolled into this study. Divalproex sodium extended-release was initiated at a dose of 25 mg/kg/day given once daily, increased by 500 mg/day on Day 3, then adjusted to achieve plasma valproate concentrations in the range of 85 mcg/mL to 125 mcg/mL. Mean daily divalproex sodium extended-release doses for observed cases were 2,362 mg (range: 500 to 4,000), 2,874 mg (range: 1,500 to 4,500), 2,993 mg (range: 1,500 to 4,500), 3,181 mg (range: 1,500 to 5,000) and 3,353 mg (range: 1,500 to 5,500) at Days 1, 5, 10, 15 and 21, respectively. Mean valproate concentrations were 96.5 mcg/mL, 102.1 mcg/mL, 98.5 mcg/mL, 89.5 mcg/mL at Days 5, 10, 15, and 21, respectively. Patients were assessed on the Mania Rating Scale (MRS; score ranges from 0 to 52).

Divalproex sodium extended-release was significantly more effective than placebo in reduction of the MRS total score.

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