September 24, 2016
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Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


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 studies of antidepressant drugs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [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 trend toward 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 nine 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 two 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: Drug-Placebo Difference in Number of Cases of Suicidality per 1000 Patients Treated

Age Range  
Increases Compared to Placebo
< 18 14 additional cases
18-24 5 additional cases
Decreases Compared to Placebo
25-64 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.

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.

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 BRINTELLIX is not approved for use in treating bipolar depression.

Serotonin Syndrome

The development of a potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome has been reported with serotonergic antidepressants including BRINTELLIX, when used alone but more often when used concomitantly with other serotonergic drugs (including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, tryptophan, buspirone, and St. John's Wort), and with drugs that impair metabolism of serotonin (in particular, MAOIs, both those intended to treat psychiatric disorders and also others, such as linezolid and intravenous methylene blue).

Serotonin syndrome symptoms may include mental status changes (e.g., agitation, hallucinations, delirium, and coma), autonomic instability (e.g., tachycardia, labile blood pressure, dizziness, diaphoresis, flushing, hyperthermia), neuromuscular symptoms (e.g., tremor, rigidity, myoclonus, hyperreflexia, incoordination), seizures, and/or gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea). Patients should be monitored for the emergence of serotonin syndrome.

The concomitant use of BRINTELLIX with MAOIs intended to treat psychiatric disorders is contraindicated. BRINTELLIX should also not be started in a patient who is being treated with MAOIs such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue. All reports with methylene blue that provided information on the route of administration involved intravenous administration in the dose range of 1 mg/kg to 8 mg/kg. No reports involved the administration of methylene blue by other routes (such as oral tablets or local tissue injection) or at lower doses. There may be circumstances when it is necessary to initiate treatment with a MAOI such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue in a patient taking BRINTELLIX. BRINTELLIX should be discontinued before initiating treatment with the MAOI [see CONTRAINDICATIONS and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

If concomitant use of BRINTELLIX with other serotonergic drugs, including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, buspirone, tryptophan, and St. John's Wort is clinically warranted, patients should be made aware of a potential increased risk for serotonin syndrome, particularly during treatment initiation and dose increases.

Treatment with BRINTELLIX and any concomitant serotonergic agents should be discontinued immediately if the above events occur and supportive symptomatic treatment should be initiated.

Abnormal Bleeding

The use of drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake inhibition, including BRINTELLIX, may increase the risk of bleeding events. Concomitant use of aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), warfarin, and other anticoagulants may add to this risk. Case reports and epidemiological studies (case-control and cohort design) have demonstrated an association between use of drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake and the occurrence of gastrointestinal bleeding. Bleeding events related to drugs that inhibit serotonin reuptake have ranged from ecchymosis, hematoma, epistaxis, and petechiae to life-threatening hemorrhages.

Patients should be cautioned about the increased risk of bleeding when BRINTELLIX is coadministered with NSAIDs, aspirin, or other drugs that affect coagulation or bleeding [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Activation Of Mania/Hypomania

Symptoms of mania/hypomania were reported in < 0.1% of patients treated with BRINTELLIX in pre-marketing clinical studies. Activation of mania/hypomania has been reported in a small proportion of patients with major affective disorder who were treated with other antidepressants. As with all antidepressants, use BRINTELLIX cautiously in patients with a history or family history of bipolar disorder, mania, or hypomania.

Angle Closure Glaucoma

Angle Closure Glaucoma: The pupillary dilation that occurs following use of many antidepressant drugs, including BRINTELLIX, may trigger an angle closure attack in a patient with anatomically narrow angles who does not have a patent iridectomy.


Hyponatremia has occurred as a result of treatment with serotonergic drugs. In many cases, hyponatremia appears to be the result of the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH). One case with serum sodium lower than 110 mmol/L was reported in a subject treated with BRINTELLIX in a pre-marketing clinical study. Elderly patients may be at greater risk of developing hyponatremia with a serotonergic antidepressant. Also, patients taking diuretics or who are otherwise volume depleted can be at greater risk. Discontinuation of BRINTELLIX in patients with symptomatic hyponatremia and appropriate medical intervention should be instituted. Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia include headache, difficulty concentrating, memory impairment, confusion, weakness, and unsteadiness, which can lead to falls. More severe and/or acute cases have included hallucination, syncope, seizure, coma, respiratory arrest, and death.

Patient Counseling Information

See FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide) Advise patients and their caregivers about the benefits and risks associated with treatment with BRINTELLIX and counsel them in its appropriate use. Advise patients and their caregivers to read the Medication Guide and assist them in understanding its contents. The complete text of the Medication Guide is reprinted at the end of this document.

Suicide Risk

Advise patients and caregivers to look for the emergence of suicidal ideation and behavior, especially early during treatment and when the dose is adjusted up or down [see BOXED WARNING and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Discontinuation of Treatment

Patients who are on BRINTELLIX 15 mg/day or 20 mg/day may experience headache, muscle tension, mood swings, sudden outburst of anger, dizziness and runny nose if they abruptly stop their medicine. Advise patients not stopping BRINTELLIX without talking to their healthcare provider [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Concomitant Medication

Advise patients to inform their physicians if they are taking, or plan to take, any prescription or over-the-counter medications because of a potential for interactions. Instruct patients not to take BRINTELLIX with an MAOI or within 14 days of stopping an MAOI and to allow 21 days after stopping BRINTELLIX before starting an MAOI [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, CONTRAINDICATIONS, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, and DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Serotonin Syndrome

Caution patients about the risk of serotonin syndrome, particularly with the concomitant use of BRINTELLIX and triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, Lithium, tramadol, tryptophan supplements, and St. John's Wort supplements [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Abnormal Bleeding

Caution patients about the increased risk of abnormal bleeding when BRINTELLIX is given with NSAIDs, aspirin, warfarin, or other drugs that affect coagulation [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Activation of Mania/Hypomania

Advise patients and their caregivers to look for signs of activation of mania/hypomania [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Angle Closure Glaucoma

Patients should be advised that taking BRINTELLIX can cause mild pupillary dilation, which in susceptible individuals, can lead to an episode of angle closure glaucoma. Pre-existing glaucoma is almost always open-angle glaucoma because angle closure glaucoma, when diagnosed, can be treated definitively with iridectomy. Open-angle glaucoma is not a risk factor for angle closure glaucoma. Patients may wish to be examined to determine whether they are susceptible to angle closure, and have a prophylactic procedure (e.g., iridectomy), if they are susceptible [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].


Advise patients that if they are treated with diuretics, or are otherwise volume depleted, or are elderly, they may be at greater risk of developing hyponatremia while taking BRINTELLIX [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].


Advise patients that nausea is the most common adverse reaction, and is dose related. Nausea commonly occurs within the first week of treatment, then decreases in frequency but can persist in some patients.


A clinical study has shown that BRINTELLIX (single dose of 20 or 40 mg/day) did not increase the impairment of mental and motor skills caused by alcohol.

Allergic Reactions

Advise patients to notify their healthcare provider if they develop an allergic reaction such as rash, hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing.


Advise patients to notify their healthcare provider if they become pregnant or intend to become pregnant during therapy with BRINTELLIX [see Use In Specific Populations].

Nursing Mothers

Advise patients to notify their healthcare provider if they are breast-feeding an infant and would like to continue or start BRINTELLIX [see Use In Specific Populations].

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility


Carcinogenicity studies were conducted in which CD-1 mice and Wistar rats were given oral doses of vortioxetine up to 50 and 100 mg/kg/day for male and female mice, respectively, and 40 and 80 mg/kg/day for male and female rats, respectively, for 2 years. The doses in the two species were approximately 12, 24, 20, and 39 times, respectively, the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 20 mg on a mg/m² basis.

In rats, the incidence of benign polypoid adenomas of the rectum was statistically significantly increased in females at doses 39 times the MRHD, but not at 15 times the MRHD. These were considered related to inflammation and hyperplasia and possibly caused by an interaction with a vehicle component of the formulation used for the study. The finding did not occur in male rats at 20 times the MRHD.

In mice, vortioxetine was not carcinogenic in males or females at doses up to 12 and 24 times, respectively, the MRHD.


Vortioxetine was not genotoxic in the in vitro bacterial reverse mutation assay (Ames test), an in vitro chromosome aberration assay in cultured human lymphocytes, and an in vivo rat bone marrow micronucleus assay.

Impairment of Fertility

Treatment of rats with vortioxetine at doses up to 120 mg/kg/day had no effect on male or female fertility, which is 58 times the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 20 mg on a mg/m² basis.

Use In Specific Populations


Pregnancy Category C

Risk Summary

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of BRINTELLIX in pregnant women. Vortioxetine caused developmental delays when administered during pregnancy to rats and rabbits at doses 15 and 10 times the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 20 mg, respectively. Developmental delays were also seen after birth in rats at doses 20 times the MRHD of vortioxetine given during pregnancy and through lactation. There were no teratogenic effects in rats or rabbits at doses up to 77 and 58 times, the MRHD of vortioxetine, respectively, given during organogenesis. The incidence of malformations in human pregnancies has not been established for BRINTELLIX. All human pregnancies, regardless of drug exposure, have a background rate of 2 to 4% for major malformations, and 15 to 20% for pregnancy loss. BRINTELLIX should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Clinical Considerations

Neonates exposed to SSRIs or SNRIs, late in the third trimester have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support and tube feeding. Such complications can arise immediately upon delivery. Reported clinical findings have included respiratory distress, cyanosis, apnea, seizures, temperature instability, feeding difficulty, vomiting, hypoglycemia, hypotonia, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, tremor, jitteriness, irritability and constant crying. These features are consistent with either a direct toxic effect of these classes of drugs or possibly, a drug discontinuation syndrome. It should be noted that in some cases, the clinical picture is consistent with serotonin syndrome [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. When treating a pregnant woman with BRINTELLIX during the third trimester, the physician should carefully consider the potential risks and benefits of treatment.

Neonates exposed to SSRIs in pregnancy may have an increased risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). PPHN occurs in one to two per 1,000 live births in the general population and is associated with substantial neonatal morbidity and mortality. Several recent epidemiologic studies suggest a positive statistical association between SSRI use in pregnancy and PPHN. Other studies do not show a significant statistical association.

A prospective longitudinal study was conducted of 201 pregnant women with a history of major depression, who were either on antidepressants or had received antidepressants less than 12 weeks prior to their last menstrual period, and were in remission. Women who discontinued antidepressant medication during pregnancy showed a significant increase in relapse of their major depression compared to those women who remained on antidepressant medication throughout pregnancy. When treating a pregnant woman with BRINTELLIX, the physician should carefully consider both the potential risks of taking a serotonergic antidepressant, along with the established benefits of treating depression with an antidepressant.

Animal Data

In pregnant rats and rabbits, no teratogenic effects were seen when vortioxetine was given during the period of organogenesis at oral doses up to 160 and 60 mg/kg/day, respectively. These doses are 77 and 58 times, in rats and rabbits, respectively, the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 20 mg on a mg/m² basis. Developmental delay, seen as decreased fetal body weight and delayed ossification, occurred in rats and rabbits at doses equal to and greater than 30 and 10 mg/kg (15 and 10 times the MRHD, respectively) in the presence of maternal toxicity (decreased food consumption and decreased body weight gain). When vortioxetine was administered to pregnant rats at oral doses up to 120 mg/kg (58 times the MRHD) throughout pregnancy and lactation, the number of live-born pups was decreased and early postnatal pup mortality was increased at 40 and 120 mg/kg. Additionally, pup weights were decreased at birth to weaning at 120 mg/kg and development (specifically eye opening) was slightly delayed at 40 and 120 mg/kg. These effects were not seen at 10 mg/kg (5 times the MRHD).

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether vortioxetine is present in human milk. Vortioxetine is present in the milk of lactating rats. Because many drugs are present in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from BRINTELLIX, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use

Clinical studies on the use of BRINTELLIX in pediatric patients have not been conducted; therefore, the safety and effectiveness of BRINTELLIX in the pediatric population have not been established.

Geriatric Use

No dose adjustment is recommended on the basis of age (Figure 3). Results from a single-dose pharmacokinetic study in elderly ( > 65 years old) vs. young (24 to 45 years old) subjects demonstrated that the pharmacokinetics were generally similar between the two age groups.

Of the 2616 subjects in clinical studies of BRINTELLIX, 11% (286) were 65 and over, which included subjects from a placebo-controlled study specifically in elderly patients [see Clinical Studies]. No overall differences in safety or effectiveness were observed between these subjects and younger subjects, and other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients.

Serotonergic antidepressants have been associated with cases of clinically significant hyponatremia in elderly patients, who may be at greater risk for this adverse event [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Use In Other Patient Populations

No dose adjustment of BRINTELLIX on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, or renal function (from mild renal impairment to end-stage renal disease) is necessary. In addition, the same dose can be administered in patients with mild to moderate hepatic impairment (Figure 3). BRINTELLIX has not been studied in patients with severe hepatic impairment. Therefore, BRINTELLIX is not recommended in patients with severe hepatic impairment.

Figure 3: Impact of Intrinsic Factors on Vortioxetine PK

Impact of Intrinsic Factors on Vortioxetine PK - Illustration

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 9/17/2014


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