Venlafaxine Hydrochloride: Package Insert and Label Information

VENLAFAXINE HYDROCHLORIDE- venlafaxine hydrochloride capsule, extended release
REMEDYREPACK INC.

WARNING: SUICIDAL THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIORS

Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies. These studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior with antidepressant use in patients over age 24; there was a reduction in risk with antidepressant use in patients aged 65 and older [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].

In patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy monitor closely for clinical worsening and emergence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Advise families and caregivers of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1) and Patient Counseling Information (17)] .

1 INDICATIONS AND USAGE

1.1 Major Depressive Disorder

Venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules are indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). Efficacy was established in three short-term (4, 8, and 12 weeks) and two long-term, maintenance trials.

1.2 Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules are indicated for the treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Efficacy was established in two 8-week and two 26-week placebo-controlled trials.

1.3 Social Anxiety Disorder

Venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules are indicated for the treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia. Efficacy was established in four 12-week and one 26-week, placebo-controlled trials.

1.4 Panic Disorder

Venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules are indicated for the treatment of Panic Disorder (PD), with or without agoraphobia. Efficacy was established in two 12-week placebo-controlled trials.

2 DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION

Venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules should be administered in a single dose with food, either in the morning or in the evening at approximately the same time each day [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)] . Each capsule should be swallowed whole with fluid and not divided, crushed, chewed, or placed in water or it may be administered by carefully opening the capsule and sprinkling the entire contents on a spoonful of applesauce. This drug/food mixture should be swallowed immediately without chewing and followed with a glass of water to ensure complete swallowing of the pellets (spheroids).

2.1 Major Depressive Disorder

For most patients, the recommended starting dose for venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules are 75 mg per day, administered in a single dose. For some patients, it may be desirable to start at 37.5 mg per day for 4 to 7 days to allow new patients to adjust to the medication before increasing to 75 mg per day. Patients not responding to the initial 75 mg per day dose may benefit from dose increases to a maximum of 225 mg per day. Dose increases should be in increments of up to 75 mg per 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 [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)] . In the clinical studies establishing efficacy, upward titration was permitted at intervals of 2 weeks or more.
It should be noted that, while the maximum recommended dose for moderately depressed outpatients is also 225 mg per day for venlafaxine hydrochloride (immediate-release), more severely depressed inpatients in one study of the development program for that product responded to a mean dose of 350 mg per day (range of 150 to 375 mg per day). Whether or not higher doses of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules are needed for more severely depressed patients is unknown; however, the experience with venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules doses higher than 225 mg per day is very limited.

2.2 Generalized Anxiety Disorder

For most patients, the recommended starting dose for venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules is 75 mg per day, administered in a single dose. For some patients, it may be desirable to start at 37.5 mg per day for 4 to 7 days to allow new patients to adjust to the medication before increasing to 75 mg per day. Patients not responding to the initial 75 mg per day dose may benefit from dose increases to a maximum of 225 mg per day. Dose increases should be in increments of up to 75 mg per 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 [ see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)] .

2.3 Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

The recommended dose is 75 mg per day, administered in a single dose. There was no evidence that higher doses confer any additional benefit.

2.4 Panic Disorder

The recommended starting dose is 37.5 mg per day of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules for 7 days. Patients not responding to 75 mg per day may benefit from dose increases to a maximum of approximately 225 mg per day. Dose increases should be in increments of up to 75 mg per day, as needed, and should be made at intervals of not less than 7 days.

2.5 Switching Patients from Venlafaxine Hydrochloride Tablets

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

2.6 Specific Populations

Patients with Hepatic Impairment

The total daily dose should be reduced by 50% in patients with mild (Child-Pugh=5 to 6) to moderate (Child-Pugh=7 to 9) hepatic impairment. In patients with severe hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh=10 to 15) or hepatic cirrhosis, it may be necessary to reduce the dose by 50% or more [see Use in Specific Populations (8.7)] .

Patients with Renal Impairment

The total daily dose should be reduced by 25% to 50% in patients with mild (CLcr= 60 to 89 mL/min) or moderate (CLcr= 30 to 59 mL/min) renal impairment. In patients undergoing hemodialysis or with severe renal impairment (CLcr < 30 mL/min), the total daily dose should be reduced by 50% or more. Because there was much individual variability in clearance between patients with renal impairment, individualization of dosage may be desirable in some patients [see Use in Specific Populations (8.7)] .

2.7 Maintenance Treatment

There is no body of evidence available from controlled studies to indicate how long patients with MDD, GAD, SAD, or PD should be treated with venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules.

It is generally agreed that acute episodes of MDD require several months or longer of sustained pharmacological therapy beyond response to the acute episode. Venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules/venlafaxine hydrochloride have demonstrated continuation of response in clinical studies up to 52 weeks, at the same dose at which patients responded during the initial treatment [see Clinical Studies (14.1)] . It is not known whether or not the dose of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules 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.

In patients with GAD and SAD, venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules have been shown to be effective in 6-month clinical studies. The need for continuing medication in patients with GAD and SAD who improve with venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules treatment should be periodically reassessed.

In a clinical study for PD, patients continuing venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules at the same dose at which they responded during the initial 12 weeks of treatment experienced a statistically significantly longer time to relapse than patients randomized to placebo [see Clinical Studies (14.4)] . The need for continuing medication in patients with PD who improve with venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules treatment should be periodically reassessed.

2.8 Discontinuing Venlafaxine Hydrochloride Extended-Release Capsules

A gradual reduction in the dose, rather than abrupt cessation, is recommended whenever possible. In clinical studies with venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules, tapering was achieved by reducing the daily dose by 75 mg at one-week intervals. Individualization of tapering may be necessary [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7)] .

2.9 Switching Patients 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 hydrochloride extended-release capsules. In addition, at least 7 days should be allowed after stopping venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules before starting an MAOI intended to treat psychiatric disorders [see Contraindications (4.2), Warnings and Precautions (5.2), and Drug Interactions (7.2)] .

Use of Venlafaxine Hydrochloride Extended-Release Capsules with other MAOIs such as Linezolid or Intravenous Methylene Blue

Do not start venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules in a patient who is being treated with linezolid or intravenous methylene blue, because there is an 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 (4.2)] .

In some cases, a patient already receiving venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules therapy may require urgent treatment with linezolid or intravenous methylene blue. If acceptable alternatives to linezolid or intravenous methylene blue 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 hydrochloride extended-release capsules should be stopped promptly, and linezolid or intravenous methylene blue can be administered. Monitor the patient 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 hydrochloride extended-release capsules can 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 concomitantly with venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules are 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 hydrochloride extended-release capsules USP are available in the following strengths:

  • 37.5 mg capsules are white to off white spherical to oval pellets filled in empty hard gelatin capsule shell (size ‘3’) of opaque grey color cap and opaque peach color body imprinted with “E” on cap and “73” on the body with edible black ink.
  • 75 mg capsules are white to off white spherical to oval pellets filled in empty hard gelatin capsule shell (size ‘1’) of opaque peach color cap and opaque peach color body imprinted with “E” on cap and “74” on the body with edible black ink.
  • 150 m g capsule s are white to off white spherical to oval pellets filled in empty hard gelatin capsule shell (size ‘0’) of opaque dark orange color cap and opaque dark orange color body imprinted with “E” on cap and “89” on the body with edible black ink.

4 CONTRAINDICATIONS

4.1 Hypersensitivity

Hypersensitivity to venlafaxine hydrochloride, desvenlafaxine succinate or to any excipients in the formulation

4.2 Concomitant Use with Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

The use of MAOIs (intended to treat psychiatric disorders) concomitantly with venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules or within 7 days of discontinuing treatment with venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules are contraindicated because of an increased risk of serotonin syndrome. The use of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules within 14 days of discontinuing treatment with an MAOI (intended to treat psychiatric disorders) is also contraindicated [see Dosage and Administration (2.9), Warnings and Precautions (5.2), and Drug Interactions (7.2)].

Starting venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules in a patient who is being treated with an MAOI such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue is also contraindicated, because of an increased risk of serotonin syndrome [see Dosage and Administration (2.9), Warnings and Precautions (5.2), and Drug Interactions (7.3)] .

5 WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS

5.1 Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults

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 studies 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 to 24) with 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 studies in children and adolescents with MDD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 24 short-term studies of 9 antidepressant drugs in over 4,400 patients. The pooled analyses of placebo-controlled studies in adults with MDD or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 295 short-term studies (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 versus 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 1,000 patients treated) are provided in Table 1.

Table 1: Difference in the Number of Cases of Suicidality per 1,000 Patients Treated versus Placebo
Age Range Increases Compared to Placebo
< 18 14 additional cases
18 to 24 5 additional cases
Decreases Compared to Placebo
25 to 64 1 fewer case
≥ 65 6 fewer cases

No suicides occurred in any of the pediatric studies. There were suicides in the adult studies, 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 studies 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 MDD, 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 Warnings and Precautions (5.7) and Dosage and Administration (2.8)] .

Families and caregivers of patients being treated with antidepressants for MDD 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 healthcare providers. Such monitoring should include daily observation by families and caregivers . Prescriptions for venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules should be written for the smallest quantity of capsules consistent with good patient management, in order to reduce the risk of overdose.

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 venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules are not approved for use in treating bipolar depression.

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