VENLAFAXINE HYDROCHLORIDE: Package Insert and Label Information

VENLAFAXINE HYDROCHLORIDE- venlafaxine hydrochloride tablet, extended release
BluePoint Laboratories

Venlafaxine extended-release tablets (venlafaxine hydrochloride)

WARNING: SUICIDALITY AND ANTIDEPRESSANT DRUGS

Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of venlafaxine extended-release tablets or any other antidepressant in a child, adolescent, or young adult must balance this risk with the clinical need. 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 in risk with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older. Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide. Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. Families and caregivers should be advised of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber. Venlafaxine extended-release tablets are not approved for use in pediatric patients. [ See Warnings and Precautions (5.1) and Patient Counseling Information (17.1) ]

1 INDICATIONS AND USAGE

1.1 Major Depressive Disorder

Venlafaxine extended-release tablets are indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).

Efficacy of venlafaxine in MDD was shown in both short-term trials and a longer-term trial in MDD [ see Clinical Studies (14.1) ].

A major depressive episode (DSM-IV) implies a prominent and relatively persistent (nearly every day for at least 2 weeks) depressed mood or the loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities, representing a change from previous functioning, and includes the presence of at least five of the following nine symptoms during the same two-week period: depressed mood, markedly diminished interest or pleasure in usual activities, significant change in weight and/or appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation or retardation, increased fatigue, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, slowed thinking or impaired concentration, a suicide attempt or suicidal ideation.

1.2 Social Anxiety Disorder

Venlafaxine extended-release tablets are indicated for the treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), also known as Social Phobia, as defined in DSM-IV.

Social Anxiety Disorder (DSM-IV) is characterized by a marked and persistent fear of 1 or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others. Exposure to the feared situation almost invariably provokes anxiety, which may approach the intensity of a panic attack. The feared situations are avoided or endured with intense anxiety or distress. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared situation(s) interferes significantly with the person’s normal routine, occupational or academic functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there is a marked distress about having the phobias. Lesser degrees of performance anxiety or shyness generally do not require psychopharmacological treatment.

Efficacy of venlafaxine extended-release in the treatment of SAD was established in short-term SAD trials [ see Clinical Studies (14.2) ].

2 DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION

Venlafaxine extended-release tablets should be administered in a single dose with food either in the morning or in the evening at approximately the same time each day. Each tablet should be swallowed whole with fluid and not divided, crushed, chewed, or placed in water.

2.1 Initial Treatment

Major Depressive Disorder

For most patients, the recommended starting dose for venlafaxine extended-release tablets is 75 mg/day, administered in a single dose. In the clinical trials establishing the efficacy of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules in moderately depressed outpatients, the initial dose of venlafaxine was 75 mg/day. For some patients, it may be desirable to start at 37.5 mg/day for 4 to 7 days, to allow new patients to adjust to the medication before increasing to 75 mg/day. While the relationship between dose and antidepressant response for venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules has not been adequately explored, patients not responding to the initial 75 mg/day dose may benefit from dose increases to a maximum of approximately 225 mg/day. Dose increases should be in increments of up to 75 mg/day, as needed, and should be made at intervals of not less than 4 days, since steady state plasma levels of venlafaxine and its major metabolites are achieved in most patients by day 4. In the clinical trials establishing efficacy, upward titration was permitted at intervals of 2 weeks or more; the average doses were about 140 to 180 mg/day [ see Clinical Studies (14) ].

It should be noted that, while the maximum recommended dose for moderately depressed outpatients is also 225 mg/day for venlafaxine hydrochloride immediate-release tablets, more severely depressed inpatients in one study of the development program for that product responded to a mean dose of 350 mg/day (range of 150 to 375 mg/day). Whether or not higher doses of venlafaxine extended-release tablets are needed for more severely depressed patients is unknown; however, the experience with venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsule doses higher than 225 mg/day is very limited. [ See Warnings and Precautions (5.17) ]

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

The recommended dose is 75 mg/day, administered in a single dose. There was no evidence that higher doses confer any additional benefit. [ See Warnings and Precautions (5.17) ]

2.2 Maintenance Treatment

There is no body of evidence available from controlled trials to indicate how long patients with major depressive disorder should be treated with venlafaxine extended-release tablets.

It is generally agreed that acute episodes of major depressive disorder require several months or longer of sustained pharmacological therapy beyond response to the acute episode. In one study, in which patients responding during 8 weeks of acute treatment with venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules were assigned randomly to placebo or to the same dose of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules (75, 150, or 225 mg/day, qAM) during 26 weeks of maintenance treatment as they had received during the acute stabilization phase, longer-term efficacy was demonstrated. A second longer-term study has demonstrated the efficacy of venlafaxine hydrochloride immediate-release tablets in maintaining a response in patients with recurrent major depressive disorder who had responded and continued to be improved during an initial 26 weeks of treatment and were then randomly assigned to placebo or venlafaxine hydrochloride immediate-release tablets for periods of up to 52 weeks on the same dose (100 to 200 mg/day, on a b.i.d. schedule) [ see Clinical Studies (14) ]. Based on these limited data, it is not known whether or not the dose of venlafaxine extended-release tablets needed for maintenance treatment is identical to the dose needed to achieve an initial response. Patients should be periodically reassessed to determine the need for maintenance treatment and the appropriate dose for such treatment.

2.3 Special Populations

Treatment of Pregnant Women During the Third Trimester

Neonates exposed to venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules, other SNRIs, or SSRIs, late in the third trimester have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support, and tube feeding [ see Use in Specific Populations (8.1) ]. When treating pregnant women with venlafaxine extended-release tablets during the third trimester, the physician should carefully consider the potential risks and benefits of treatment.

Patients with Hepatic Impairment

Given the decrease in clearance and increase in elimination half-life for both venlafaxine and ODV that is observed in patients with hepatic cirrhosis and mild and moderate hepatic impairment compared with normal subjects [ see Use in Specific Populations (8.6) and Clinical Pharmacology (12.3) ], it is recommended that the total daily dose be reduced by 50% in patients with mild to moderate hepatic impairment. Since there was much individual variability in clearance between patients with cirrhosis, it may be necessary to reduce the dose even more than 50%, and individualization of dosing may be desirable in some patients.

Patients with Renal Impairment

Given the decrease in clearance for venlafaxine and the increase in elimination half-life for both Venlafaxine and ODV that is observed in patients with renal impairment (GFR = 10 to 70 mL/min) compared with normal subjects [ see Use in Specific Populations (8.7) and Clinical Pharmacology (12.3) ], it is recommended that the total daily dose be reduced by 25% to 50%.

In patients undergoing hemodialysis, it is recommended that the total daily dose be reduced by 50%. Because there was much individual variability in clearance between patients with renal impairment, individualization of dosage may be desirable in some patients.

Elderly Patients

No dose adjustment is recommended for elderly patients solely on the basis of age. As with any drug for the treatment of major depressive disorder or social anxiety disorder, however, caution should be exercised in treating the elderly. When individualizing the dosage, extra care should be taken when increasing the dose.

2.4 Discontinuing Venlafaxine Extended-Release Tablets

Symptoms associated with discontinuation of Venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules, other SNRI’s, and SSRI’s have been reported [ see Warnings and Precautions (5.5) ]. 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. In clinical trials with venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules, tapering was achieved by reducing the daily dose by 75 mg at 1 week intervals. Individualization of tapering may be necessary.

2.5 Switching Patients from Venlafaxine Hydrochloride Immediate-Release Tablets

Depressed patients who are currently being treated at a therapeutic dose with venlafaxine hydrochloride immediate-release tablets may be switched to venlafaxine extended-release tablets at the nearest equivalent dose (mg/day), e.g., 37.5 mg venlafaxine two-times-a-day to 75 mg venlafaxine extended-release tablets once daily. However, individual dosage adjustments may be necessary.

2.6 Switching a Patient 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 venlafaxine extended-release tablets. Conversely, at least 7 days should be allowed after stopping venlafaxine extended-release tablets before starting an MAOI intended to treat psychiatric disorders [ see Contraindications (4.1) ].

2.7 Use of Venlafaxine Extended-Release Tablets with Other MAOIs, Such as Linezolid or Methylene Blue

Do not start venlafaxine 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 (4.1) ].

In some cases, a patient already receiving venlafaxine 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, venlafaxine 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 venlafaxine 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 venlafaxine 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

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)

4 CONTRAINDICATIONS

4.1 Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

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) ].

5 WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS

5.1 Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk

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.

Table 1

Table-1
(click image for full-size original)

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.

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