Divalproex Sodium Extended-Release: Package Insert and Label Information (Page 3 of 8)

5.9 Thrombocytopenia

The frequency of adverse effects (particularly elevated liver enzymes and thrombocytopenia) may be dose-related. In a clinical trial of valproate as monotherapy in patients with epilepsy, 34/126 patients (27%) receiving approximately 50 mg/kg/day on average, had at least one value of platelets ≤ 75 x 109 /L. Approximately half of these patients had treatment discontinued, with return of platelet counts to normal. In the remaining patients, platelet counts normalized with continued treatment. In this study, the probability of thrombocytopenia appeared to increase significantly at total valproate concentrations of ≥ 110 mcg/mL (females) or ≥ 135 mcg/mL (males). The therapeutic benefit which may accompany the higher doses should therefore be weighed against the possibility of a greater incidence of adverse effects.

Because of reports of thrombocytopenia, inhibition of the secondary phase of platelet aggregation, and abnormal coagulation parameters, (e.g., low fibrinogen), platelet counts and coagulation tests are recommended before initiating therapy and at periodic intervals. It is recommended that patients receiving divalproex sodium extended-release tablets be monitored for platelet count and coagulation parameters prior to planned surgery. Evidence of hemorrhage, bruising, or a disorder of hemostasis/coagulation is an indication for reduction of the dosage or withdrawal of therapy.

5.10 Hyperammonemia

Hyperammonemia has been reported in association with valproate therapy and may be present despite normal liver function tests. In patients who develop unexplained lethargy and vomiting or changes in mental status, hyperammonemic encephalopathy should be considered and an ammonia level should be measured. Hyperammonemia should also be considered in patients who present with hypothermia [see Warnings and Precautions (5.12)]. If ammonia is increased, valproate therapy should be discontinued. Appropriate interventions for treatment of hyperammonemia should be initiated, and such patients should undergo investigation for underlying urea cycle disorders [see Contraindications (4) and Warnings and Precautions (5.6, 5.10)].

During the placebo controlled pediatric mania trial, one (1) in twenty (20) adolescents (5%) treated with valproate developed increased plasma ammonia levels compared to no (0) patients treated with placebo.

Asymptomatic elevations of ammonia are more common and when present, require close monitoring of plasma ammonia levels. If the elevation persists, discontinuation of valproate therapy should be considered.

5.11 Hyperammonemia and Encephalopathy associated with Concomitant Topiramate Use

Concomitant administration of topiramate and valproate has been associated with hyperammonemia with or without encephalopathy in patients who have tolerated either drug alone. Clinical symptoms of hyperammonemic encephalopathy often include acute alterations in level of consciousness and/or cognitive function with lethargy or vomiting. Hypothermia can also be a manifestation of hyperammonemia [see Warnings and Precautions (5.12)]. In most cases, symptoms and signs abated with discontinuation of either drug. This adverse event is not due to a pharmacokinetic interaction. It is not known if topiramate monotherapy is associated with hyperammonemia. Patients with inborn errors of metabolism or reduced hepatic mitochondrial activity may be at an increased risk for hyperammonemia with or without encephalopathy. Although not studied, an interaction of topiramate and valproate may exacerbate existing defects or unmask deficiencies in susceptible persons. In patients who develop unexplained lethargy, vomiting, or changes in mental status, hyperammonemic encephalopathy should be considered and an ammonia level should be measured [see Contraindications (4) and Warnings and Precautions (5.6, 5.10)].

5.12 Hypothermia

Hypothermia, defined as an unintentional drop in body core temperature to < 35°C (95°F), has been reported in association with valproate therapy both in conjunction with and in the absence of hyperammonemia. This adverse reaction can also occur in patients using concomitant topiramate with valproate after starting topiramate treatment or after increasing the daily dose of topiramate [see Drug Interactions (7.3)]. Consideration should be given to stopping valproate in patients who develop hypothermia, which may be manifested by a variety of clinical abnormalities including lethargy, confusion, coma, and significant alterations in other major organ systems such as the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Clinical management and assessment should include examination of blood ammonia levels.

5.13 Multi-Organ Hypersensitivity Reactions

Multi-organ hypersensitivity reactions have been rarely reported in close temporal association to the initiation of valproate therapy in adult and pediatric patients (median time to detection 21 days: range 1 to 40 days). Although there have been a limited number of reports, many of these cases resulted in hospitalization and at least one death has been reported. Signs and symptoms of this disorder were diverse; however, patients typically, although not exclusively, presented with fever and rash associated with other organ system involvement. Other associated manifestations may include lymphadenopathy, hepatitis, liver function test abnormalities, hematological abnormalities (e.g., eosinophilia, thrombocytopenia, neutropenia), pruritus, nephritis, oliguria, hepato-renal syndrome, arthralgia, and asthenia. Because the disorder is variable in its expression, other organ system symptoms and signs, not noted here, may occur. If this reaction is suspected, valproate should be discontinued and an alternative treatment started. Although the existence of cross sensitivity with other drugs that produce this syndrome is unclear, the experience amongst drugs associated with multi-organ hypersensitivity would indicate this to be a possibility.

5.14 Interaction with Carbapenem Antibiotics

Carbapenem antibiotics (for example, ertapenem, imipenem, meropenem; this is not a complete list) may reduce serum valproate concentrations to subtherapeutic levels, resulting in loss of seizure control. Serum valproate concentrations should be monitored frequently after initiating carbapenem therapy. Alternative antibacterial or anticonvulsant therapy should be considered if serum valproate concentrations drop significantly or seizure control deteriorates [see Drug Interactions (7.1)].

5.15 Somnolence in the Elderly

In a double-blind, multicenter trial of valproate in elderly patients with dementia (mean age = 83 years), doses were increased by 125 mg/day to a target dose of 20 mg/kg/day. A significantly higher proportion of valproate patients had somnolence compared to placebo, and although not statistically significant, there was a higher proportion of patients with dehydration. Discontinuations for somnolence were also significantly higher than with placebo. In some patients with somnolence (approximately one-half), there was associated reduced nutritional intake and weight loss. There was a trend for the patients who experienced these events to have a lower baseline albumin concentration, lower valproate clearance, and a higher BUN. In elderly patients, dosage should be increased more slowly and with regular monitoring for fluid and nutritional intake, dehydration, somnolence, and other adverse reactions. Dose reductions or discontinuation of valproate should be considered in patients with decreased food or fluid intake and in patients with excessive somnolence [see Dosage and Administration (2.4)].

5.16 Monitoring: Drug Plasma Concentration

Since valproate may interact with concurrently administered drugs which are capable of enzyme induction, periodic plasma concentration determinations of valproate and concomitant drugs are recommended during the early course of therapy [see Drug Interactions (7)].

5.17 Effect on Ketone and Thyroid Function Tests

Valproate is partially eliminated in the urine as a keto-metabolite which may lead to a false interpretation of the urine ketone test.

There have been reports of altered thyroid function tests associated with valproate. The clinical significance of these is unknown.

5.18 Effect on HIV and CMV Viruses Replication

There are in vitro studies that suggest valproate stimulates the replication of the HIV and CMV viruses under certain experimental conditions. The clinical consequence, if any, is not known. Additionally, the relevance of these in vitro findings is uncertain for patients receiving maximally suppressive antiretroviral therapy. Nevertheless, these data should be borne in mind when interpreting the results from regular monitoring of the viral load in HIV infected patients receiving valproate or when following CMV infected patients clinically.

5.19 Medication Residue in the Stool

There have been rare reports of medication residue in the stool. Some patients have had anatomic (including ileostomy or colostomy) or functional gastrointestinal disorders with shortened GI transit times. In some reports, medication residues have occurred in the context of diarrhea. It is recommended that plasma valproate levels be checked in patients who experience medication residue in the stool, and patients’ clinical condition should be monitored. If clinically indicated, alternative treatment may be considered.


The following adverse reactions are discussed in greater detail in other sections of the labeling:

Hepatic failure (5.1)

Birth defects (5.2)

Decreased IQ following in utero exposure (5.3)

Pancreatitis (5.5)

Thrombocytopenia (5.9)

Hyperammonemic encephalopathy (5.6, 5.10, 5.11)

Multi-organ hypersensitivity reactions (5.13)

Somnolence in the elderly (5.15)

Because clinical studies are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical studies of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical studies of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.

Information on pediatric adverse reactions is presented in section 8.

6.1 Mania

The incidence of treatment-emergent events has been ascertained based on combined data from two three week placebo-controlled clinical trials of divalproex sodium extended-release tablets in the treatment of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder.

Table 3 summarizes those adverse reactions reported for patients in these trials where the incidence rate in the divalproex sodium extended-release tablets-treated group was greater than 5% and greater than the placebo incidence.

Table 3. Adverse Reactions Reported by > 5% of Divalproex Sodium Extended-Release Tablets-Treated Patients During Placebo-Controlled Trials of Acute Mania 1
Adverse Event Divalproex Sodium Extended-Release Tablets (n=338) Placebo(n=263)
Somnolence 26% 14%
Dyspepsia 23% 11%
Nausea 19% 13%
Vomiting 13% 5%
Diarrhea 12% 8%
Dizziness 12% 7%
Pain 11% 10%
Abdominal pain 10% 5%
Accidental injury 6% 5%
Asthenia 6% 5%
Pharyngitis 6% 5%
1. The following adverse reactions/event occurred at an equal or greater incidence for placebo than for divalproex sodium extended-release tablets: headache

The following additional adverse reactions were reported by greater than 1% of the divalproex sodium extended-release tablets-treated patients in controlled clinical trials:

Body as a Whole: Back Pain, Chills, Chills and Fever, Drug Level Increased, Flu Syndrome, Infection, Infection Fungal, Neck Rigidity.

Cardiovascular System: Arrhythmia, Hypertension, Hypotension, Postural Hypotension.

Digestive System: Constipation, Dry Mouth, Dysphagia, Fecal Incontinence, Flatulence, Gastroenteritis, Glossitis, Gum Hemorrhage, Mouth Ulceration.

Hemic and Lymphatic System: Anemia, Bleeding Time Increased, Ecchymosis, Leucopenia.

Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders: Hypoproteinemia, Peripheral Edema.

Musculoskeletal System: Arthrosis, Myalgia.

Nervous System: Abnormal Gait, Agitation, Catatonic Reaction, Dysarthria, Hallucinations, Hypertonia, Hypokinesia, Psychosis, Reflexes Increased, Sleep Disorder, Tardive Dyskinesia, Tremor.

Respiratory System: Hiccup, Rhinitis.

Skin and Appendages: Discoid Lupus Erythematosus, Erythema Nodosum, Furunculosis, Maculopapular Rash, Pruritus, Rash, Seborrhea, Sweating, Vesiculobullous Rash.

Special Senses: Conjunctivitis, Dry Eyes, Eye Disorder, Eye Pain, Photophobia, Taste Perversion.

Urogenital System: Cystitis, Urinary Tract Infection, Menstrual Disorder, Vaginitis.

6.2 Epilepsy

Based on a placebo-controlled trial of adjunctive therapy for treatment of complex partial seizures, divalproex sodium tablets was generally well tolerated with most adverse reactions rated as mild to moderate in severity. Intolerance was the primary reason for discontinuation in the divalproex sodium tablets-treated patients (6%), compared to 1% of placebo-treated patients.

Table 4 lists treatment-emergent adverse reactions which were reported by ≥ 5% of divalproex sodium tablets-treated patients and for which the incidence was greater than in the placebo group, in the placebo-controlled trial of adjunctive therapy for treatment of complex partial seizures. Since patients were also treated with other antiepilepsy drugs, it is not possible, in most cases, to determine whether the following adverse reactions can be ascribed to divalproex sodium tablets alone, or the combination of divalproex sodium tablets and other antiepilepsy drugs.

Table 4. Adverse Reactions Reported by ≥ 5% of Patients Treated with Valproate During Placebo-Controlled Trial of Adjunctive Therapy for Complex Partial Seizures
Body System/Event Divalproex Sodium Tablets (%)(N=77) Placebo (%)(N=70)
Body as a Whole
Headache 31 21
Asthenia 27 7
Fever 6 4
Gastrointestinal System
Nausea 48 14
Vomiting 27 7
Abdominal pain 23 6
Diarrhea 13 6
Anorexia 12 0
Dyspepsia 8 4
Constipation 5 1
Nervous System
Somnolence 27 11
Tremor 25 6
Dizziness 25 13
Diplopia 16 9
Amblyopia/Blurred Vision 12 9
Ataxia 8 1
Nystagmus 8 1
Emotional Lability 6 4
Thinking Abnormal 6 0
Amnesia 5 1
Respiratory System
Flu Syndrome 12 9
Infection 12 6
Bronchitis 5 1
Rhinitis 5 4
Alopecia 6 1
Weight Loss 6 0

Table 5 lists treatment-emergent adverse reactions which were reported by ≥ 5% of patients in the high dose valproate group, and for which the incidence was greater than in the low dose group, in a controlled trial of divalproex sodium tablets monotherapy treatment of complex partial seizures. Since patients were being titrated off another antiepilepsy drug during the first portion of the trial, it is not possible, in many cases, to determine whether the following adverse reactions can be ascribed to divalproex sodium tablets alone, or the combination of valproate and other antiepilepsy drugs.

Table 5. Adverse Reactions Reported by ≥ 5% of Patients in the High Dose Group in the Controlled Trial of Valproate Monotherapy for Complex Partial Seizures 1
Body System/Event High Dose (%)(n=131) Low Dose (%)(n=134)
Body as a Whole
Asthenia 21 10
Digestive System
Nausea 34 26
Diarrhea 23 19
Vomiting 23 15
Abdominal pain 12 9
Anorexia 11 4
Dyspepsia 11 10
Hemic/Lymphatic System
Thrombocytopenia 24 1
Ecchymosis 5 4
Weight Gain 9 4
Peripheral Edema 8 3
Nervous System
Tremor 57 19
Somnolence 30 18
Dizziness 18 13
Insomnia 15 9
Nervousness 11 7
Amnesia 7 4
Nystagmus 7 1
Depression 5 4
Respiratory System
Infection 20 13
Pharyngitis 8 2
Dyspnea 5 1
Skin and Appendages
Alopecia 24 13
Special Senses
Amblyopia/Blurred Vision 8 4
Tinnitus 7 1
1. Headache was the only adverse event that occurred in ≥5% of patients in the high dose group and at an equal or greater incidence in the low dose group.

The following additional adverse reactions were reported by greater than 1% but less than 5% of the 358 patients treated with valproate in the controlled trials of complex partial seizures:

Body as a Whole: Back pain, chest pain, malaise.

Cardiovascular System: Tachycardia, hypertension, palpitation.

Digestive System: Increased appetite, flatulence, hematemesis, eructation, pancreatitis, periodontal abscess.

Hemic and Lymphatic System: Petechia.

Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders: SGOT increased, SGPT increased.

Musculoskeletal System: Myalgia, twitching, arthralgia, leg cramps, myasthenia.

Nervous System: Anxiety, confusion, abnormal gait, paresthesia, hypertonia, incoordination, abnormal dreams, personality disorder.

Respiratory System: Sinusitis, cough increased, pneumonia, epistaxis.

Skin and Appendages: Rash, pruritus, dry skin.

Special Senses: Taste perversion, abnormal vision, deafness, otitis media.

Urogenital System: Urinary incontinence, vaginitis, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, urinary frequency.

DrugInserts.com provides trustworthy package insert and label information about marketed drugs as submitted by manufacturers to the US Food and Drug Administration. Package information is not reviewed or updated separately by DrugInserts.com. Every individual package label entry contains a unique identifier which can be used to secure further details directly from the US National Institutes of Health and/or the FDA.

As the leading independent provider of trustworthy medication information, we source our database directly from the FDA's central repository of drug labels and package inserts under the Structured Product Labeling standard. Our material is not intended as a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified health professional.

Terms of Use | Copyright © 2023. All Rights Reserved.