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Serious Cardiovascular Events
Sudden Death and Preexisting Structural Cardiac Abnormalities or Other Serious Heart Problems
Children and Adolescents
Sudden death has been reported in association with CNS stimulant treatment at usual doses in children and adolescents with structural cardiac abnormalities or other serious heart problems.
Although some structural heart problems alone may carry an increased risk of sudden death, stimulant products generally should not be used in children or adolescents with known structural cardiac abnormalities, cardiomyopathy, serious heart rhythm abnormalities, or other serious cardiac problems that may place them at increased vulnerability to the sympathomimetic effects of a stimulant drug (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
Sudden deaths, stroke, and myocardial infarction have been reported in adults taking stimulant drugs at usual doses for ADHD. Although the role of stimulants in these adult cases is also unknown, adults have a greater likelihood than children of having serious structural cardiac abnormalities, cardiomyopathy, serious heart rhythm abnormalities, coronary artery disease, or other serious cardiac problems. Adults with such abnormalities should also generally not be treated with stimulant drugs (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
Hypertension and Other Cardiovascular Conditions
Stimulant medications cause a modest increase in average blood pressure (about 2 to 4 mmHg) and average heart rate (about 3 to 6 bpm) [see ADVERSE REACTIONS], and individuals may have larger increases. While the mean changes alone would not be expected to have short-term consequences, all patients should be monitored for larger changes in heart rate and blood pressure. Caution is indicated in treating patients whose underlying medical conditions might be compromised by increases in blood pressure or heart rate, e.g., those with preexisting hypertension, heart failure, recent myocardial infarction, or ventricular arrhythmia (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
Assessing Cardiovascular Status in Patients Being Treated With Stimulant Medications
Children, adolescents, or adults who are being considered for treatment with stimulant medications should have a careful history (including assessment for a family history of sudden death or ventricular arrhythmia) and physical exam to assess for the presence of cardiac disease, and should receive further cardiac evaluation if findings suggest such disease (e.g., electrocardiogram and echocardiogram). Patients who develop symptoms such as exertional chest pain, unexplained syncope, or other symptoms suggestive of cardiac disease during stimulant treatment should undergo a prompt cardiac evaluation.
Psychiatric Adverse Events
Administration of stimulants may exacerbate symptoms of behavior disturbance and thought disorder in patients with preexisting psychotic disorder.
Particular care should be taken in using stimulants to treat ADHD patients with comorbid bipolar disorder because of concern for possible induction of mixed/manic episode in such patients. Prior to initiating treatment with a stimulant, patients with comorbid 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.
Emergence of New Psychotic or Manic Symptoms
Treatment emergent psychotic or manic symptoms, e.g., hallucinations, delusional thinking, or mania in children and adolescents without prior history of psychotic illness or mania can be caused by stimulants at usual doses. If such symptoms occur, consideration should be given to a possible causal role of the stimulant, and discontinuation of treatment may be appropriate. In a pooled analysis of multiple shortterm, placebo-controlled studies, such symptoms occurred in about 0.1% (4 patients with events out of 3482 exposed to methylphenidate or amphetamine for several weeks at usual doses) of stimulant-treated patients compared to 0 in placebo-treated patients.
Aggressive behavior or hostility is often observed in children and adolescents with ADHD, and has been reported in clinical trials and the postmarketing experience of some medications indicated for the treatment of ADHD. Although there is no systematic evidence that stimulants cause aggressive behavior or hostility, patients beginning treatment for ADHD should be monitored for the appearance of or worsening of aggressive behavior or hostility.
Long-Term Suppression of Growth
Careful follow-up of weight and height in children ages 7 to 10 years who were randomized to either methylphenidate or non-medication treatment groups over 14 months, as well as in naturalistic subgroups of newly methylphenidate-treated and non-medication treated children over 36 months (to the ages of 10 to 13 years), suggests that consistently medicated children (i.e., treatment for 7 days per week throughout the year) have a temporary slowing in growth rate (on average, a total of about 2 cm less growth in height and 2.7 kg less growth in weight over 3 years), without evidence of growth rebound during this period of development. Published data are inadequate to determine whether chronic use of amphetamines may cause a similar suppression of growth, however, it is anticipated that they will likely have this effect as well. Therefore, growth should be monitored during treatment with stimulants, and patients who are not growing or gaining weight as expected may need to have their treatment interrupted.
There is some clinical evidence that stimulants may lower the convulsive threshold in patients with prior history of seizure, in patients with prior EEG abnormalities in absence of seizures, and very rarely, in patients without a history of seizures and no prior EEG evidence of seizures. In the presence of seizures, the drug should be discontinued.
Difficulties with accommodation and blurring of vision have been reported with stimulant treatment.
The least amount of amphetamine feasible should be prescribed or dispensed at one time in order to minimize the possibility of overdosage. Adderall® should be used with caution in patients who use other sympathomimetic drugs.
Amphetamines have been reported to exacerbate motor and phonic tics and Tourette's syndrome. Therefore, clinical evaluation for tics and Tourette's syndrome in children and their families should precede use of stimulant medications.
Information for Patients
Amphetamines may impair the ability of the patient to engage in potentially hazardous activities such as operating machinery or vehicles; the patient should therefore be cautioned accordingly.
Prescribers or other health professionals should inform patients, their families, and their caregivers about the benefits and risks associated with treatment with amphetamine or dextroamphetamine and should counsel them in its appropriate use. A patient Medication Guide is available for Adderall®.
The prescriber or health professional should instruct patients, their families, and their caregivers to read the Medication Guide and should assist them in understanding its contents. Patients should be given the opportunity to discuss the contents of the Medication Guide and to obtain answers to any questions they may have. The complete text of the Medication Guide is reprinted at the end of this document.
Carcinogenesis /Mutagenesis and Impairment of Fertility
No evidence of carcinogenicity was found in studies in which d,l-amphetamine (enantiomer ratio of 1:1) was administered to mice and rats in the diet for 2 years at doses of up to 30 mg/kg/day in male mice, 19 mg/kg/day in female mice, and 5 mg/kg/day in male and female rats. These doses are approximately 2.4, 1.5, and 0.8 times, respectively, the maximum recommended human dose of 30 mg/day [child] on a mg/m body surface area basis.
Amphetamine, in the enantiomer ratio present in Adderall® (immediate-release)(d- to l- ratio of 3:1), was not clastogenic in the mouse bone marrow micronucleus test in vivo and was negative when tested in the E. coli component of the Ames test in vitro. d, l-Amphetamine (1:1 enantiomer ratio) has been reported to produce a positive response in the mouse bone marrow micronucleus test, an equivocal response in the Ames test, and negative responses in the in vitro sister chromatid exchange and chromosomal aberration assays.
Amphetamine, in the enantiomer ratio present in Adderall® (immediate-release)(d- to l- ratio of 3:1), did not adversely affect fertility or early embryonic development in the rat at doses of up to 20 mg/kg/day (approximately 5 times the maximum recommended human dose of 30 mg/day on a mg/m body surface area basis).
Pregnancy Category C
Amphetamine, in the enantiomer ratio present in Adderall® (d- to l- ratio of 3:1), had no apparent effects on embryofetal morphological development or survival when orally administered to pregnant rats and rabbits throughout the period of organogenesis at doses of up to 6 and 16 mg/kg/day, respectively. These doses are approximately 1.5 and 8 times, respectively, the maximum recommended human dose of 30 mg/day [child] on a mg/m² body surface area basis. Fetal malformations and death have been reported in mice following parenteral administration of d-amphetamine doses of 50 mg/kg/day (approximately 6 times that of a human dose of 30 mg/day [child] on a mg/m² basis) or greater to pregnant animals. Administration of these doses was also associated with severe maternal toxicity.
A number of studies in rodents indicate that prenatal or early postnatal exposure to amphetamine (d- or d,l-), at doses similar to those used clinically, can result in long-term neurochemical and behavioral alterations. Reported behavioral effects include learning and memory deficits, altered locomotor activity, and changes in sexual function.
There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. There has been one report of severe congenital bony deformity, tracheo-esophageal fistula, and anal atresia (vater association) in a baby born to a woman who took dextroamphetamine sulfate with lovastatin during the first trimester of pregnancy. Amphetamines should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
Infants born to mothers dependent on amphetamines have an increased risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. Also, these infants may experience symptoms of withdrawal as demonstrated by dysphoria, including agitation, and significant lassitude.
Usage In Nursing Mothers
Amphetamines are excreted in human milk. Mothers taking amphetamines should be advised to refrain from nursing.
Long-term effects of amphetamines in children have not been well established. Amphetamines are not recommended for use in children under 3 years of age with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder described under INDICATIONS AND USAGE.
Adderall® has not been studied in the geriatric population.
Last reviewed on RxList: 2/27/2015
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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