"Jan. 8, 2013 -- People with epilepsy have a higher risk for migraines, and now new research offers evidence of a genetic link between the two conditions.
The study confirmed that having a strong family history of epilepsy is a strong "...
General Information On Hepatotoxicity
Hepatic failure resulting in fatalities has occurred in patients receiving valproate. These incidents usually have occurred during the first six months of treatment. Serious or fatal hepatotoxicity may be preceded by non-specific symptoms such as malaise, weakness, lethargy, facial edema, anorexia, and vomiting. In patients with epilepsy, a loss of seizure control may also occur. Patients should be monitored closely for appearance of these symptoms. Serum liver tests should be performed prior to therapy and at frequent intervals thereafter, especially during the first six months of valproate therapy. However, physicians should not rely totally on serum biochemistry since these tests may not be abnormal in all instances, but should also consider the results of careful interim medical history and physical examination.
Caution should be observed when administering valproate products to patients with a prior history of hepatic disease. Patients on multiple anticonvulsants, children, those with congenital metabolic disorders, those with severe seizure disorders accompanied by mental retardation, and those with organic brain disease may be at particular risk. See below, “Patients with Known or Suspected Mitochondrial Disease.”
Experience has indicated that children under the age of two years are at a considerably increased risk of developing fatal hepatotoxicity, especially those with the aforementioned conditions. When Depacon is used in this patient group, it should be used with extreme caution and as a sole agent. The benefits of therapy should be weighed against the risks. Use of Depacon has not been studied in children below the age of 2 years. In progressively older patient groups experience in epilepsy has indicated that the incidence of fatal hepatotoxicity decreases considerably.
Patients with Known or Suspected Mitochondrial Disease
Depacon is contraindicated in patients known to have mitochondrial disorders caused by POLG mutations and children under two years of age who are clinically suspected of having a mitochondrial disorder [see CONTRAINDICATIONS]. Valproate-induced acute liver failure and liver-related deaths have been reported in patients with hereditary neurometabolic syndromes caused by mutations in the gene for mitochondrial DNA polymerase γ (POLG) (e.g., Alpers-Huttenlocher Syndrome) at a higher rate than those without these syndromes. Most of the reported cases of liver failure in patients with these syndromes have been identified in children and adolescents.
POLG-related disorders should be suspected in patients with a family history or suggestive symptoms of a POLG-related disorder, including but not limited to unexplained encephalopathy, refractory epilepsy (focal, myoclonic), status epilepticus at presentation, developmental delays, psychomotor regression, axonal sensorimotor neuropathy, myopathy cerebellar ataxia, opthalmoplegia, or complicated migraine with occipital aura. POLG mutation testing should be performed in accordance with current clinical practice for the diagnostic evaluation of such disorders. The A467T and W748S mutations are present in approximately 2/3 of patients with autosomal recessive POLG-related disorders.
In patients over two years of age who are clinically suspected of having a hereditary mitochondrial disease, Depacon should only be used after other anticonvulsants have failed. This older group of patients should be closely monitored during treatment with Depacon for the development of acute liver injury with regular clinical assessments and serum liver test monitoring.
The drug should be discontinued immediately in the presence of significant hepatic dysfunction, suspected or apparent. In some cases, hepatic dysfunction has progressed in spite of discontinuation of drug [see BOXED WARNING and CONTRAINDICATIONS].
Valproate can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Pregnancy registry data show that maternal valproate use can cause neural tube defects and other structural abnormalities (e.g., craniofacial defects, cardiovascular malformations, hypospadias, limb malformations). The rate of congenital malformations among babies born to mothers using valproate is about four times higher than the rate among babies born to epileptic mothers using other anti-seizure monotherapies. Evidence suggests that folic acid supplementation prior to conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy decreases the risk for congenital neural tube defects in the general population.
Decreased IQ Following In Utero Exposure
Valproate can cause decreased IQ scores following in utero exposure. Published epidemiological studies have indicated that children exposed to valproate in utero have lower cognitive test scores than children exposed in utero to either another antiepileptic drug or to no antiepileptic drugs. The largest of these studies1 is a prospective cohort study conducted in the United States and United Kingdom that found that children with prenatal exposure to valproate (n=62) had lower IQ scores at age 6 (97 [95% C.I. 94-101]) than children with prenatal exposure to the other antiepileptic drug monotherapy treatments evaluated: lamotrigine (108 [95% C.I. 105–110]), carbamazepine (105 [95% C.I. 102–108]), and phenytoin (108 [95% C.I. 104–112]). It is not known when during pregnancy cognitive effects in valproate-exposed children occur. Because the women in this study were exposed to antiepileptic drugs throughout pregnancy, whether the risk for decreased IQ was related to a particular time period during pregnancy could not be assessed.
Although all of the available studies have methodological limitations, the weight of the evidence supports the conclusion that valproate exposure in utero can cause decreased IQ in children.
In animal studies, offspring with prenatal exposure to valproate had malformations similar to those seen in humans and demonstrated neurobehavioral deficits [see Use In Specific Populations].
Women with epilepsy who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant should not be treated with valproate unless other treatments have failed to provide adequate symptom control or are otherwise unacceptable. In such women, the benefits of treatment with valproate during pregnancy may still outweigh the risks.
Use In Women Of Childbearing Potential
Because of the risk to the fetus of decreased IQ and major congenital malformations (including neural tube defects), which may occur very early in pregnancy, valproate should not be administered to a woman of childbearing potential unless the drug is essential to the management of her medical condition. This is especially important when valproate use is considered for a condition not usually associated with permanent injury or death (e.g., migraine). Women should use effective contraception while using valproate. Women who are planning a pregnancy should be counseled regarding the relative risks and benefits of valproate use during pregnancy, and alternative therapeutic options should be considered for these patients [see BOXED WARNING and Use In Specific Populations].
To prevent major seizures, valproate should not be discontinued abruptly, as this can precipitate status epilepticus with resulting maternal and fetal hypoxia and threat to life.
Evidence suggests that folic acid supplementation prior to conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy decreases the risk for congenital neural tube defects in the general population. It is not known whether the risk of neural tube defects or decreased IQ in the offspring of women receiving valproate is reduced by folic acid supplementation. Dietary folic acid supplementation both prior to conception and during pregnancy should be routinely recommended for patients using valproate.
Cases of life-threatening pancreatitis have been reported in both children and adults receiving valproate. Some of the cases have been described as hemorrhagic with rapid progression from initial symptoms to death. Some cases have occurred shortly after initial use as well as after several years of use. The rate based upon the reported cases exceeds that expected in the general population and there have been cases in which pancreatitis recurred after rechallenge with valproate. In clinical trials, there were 2 cases of pancreatitis without alternative etiology in 2416 patients, representing 1044 patient-years experience. Patients and guardians should be warned that abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or anorexia can be symptoms of pancreatitis that require prompt medical evaluation. If pancreatitis is diagnosed, valproate should ordinarily be discontinued. Alternative treatment for the underlying medical condition should be initiated as clinically indicated [see BOXED WARNING].
Urea Cycle Disorders
Valproate sodium is contraindicated in patients with known urea cycle disorders (UCD).
Hyperammonemic encephalopathy, sometimes fatal, has been reported following initiation of valproate therapy in patients with urea cycle disorders, a group of uncommon genetic abnormalities, particularly ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. Prior to the initiation of valproate therapy, evaluation for UCD should be considered in the following patients: 1) those with a history of unexplained encephalopathy or coma, encephalopathy associated with a protein load, pregnancy-related or postpartum encephalopathy, unexplained mental retardation, or history of elevated plasma ammonia or glutamine; 2) those with cyclical vomiting and lethargy, episodic extreme irritability, ataxia, low BUN, or protein avoidance; 3) those with a family history of UCD or a family history of unexplained infant deaths (particularly males); 4) those with other signs or symptoms of UCD. Patients who develop symptoms of unexplained hyperammonemic encephalopathy while receiving valproate therapy should receive prompt treatment (including discontinuation of valproate therapy) and be evaluated for underlying urea cycle disorders [see CONTRAINDICATIONS and Hyperammonemia and Encephalopathy associated with Concomitant Topiramate Use].
Bleeding And Other Hematopoietic Disorders
Valproate is associated with dose-related thrombocytopenia. 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. Valproate use has also been associated with decreases in other cell lines and myelodysplasia.
Because of reports of cytopenias, inhibition of the secondary phase of platelet aggregation, and abnormal coagulation parameters (e.g., low fibrinogen, coagulation factor deficiencies, acquired von Willebrand's disease), measurements of complete blood counts and coagulation tests are recommended before initiating therapy and at periodic intervals. It is recommended that patients receiving Depacon be monitored for blood counts and coagulation parameters prior to planned surgery and during pregnancy [see Use in Specific Populations]. Evidence of hemorrhage, bruising, or a disorder of hemostasis/coagulation is an indication for reduction of the dosage or withdrawal of therapy.
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 Hypothermia]. 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, Urea Cycle Disorders and Hyperammonemia and Encephalopathy associated with Concomitant Topiramate Use].
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.
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 Hypothermia]. In most cases, symptoms and signs abated with discontinuation of either drug. This adverse reaction is not due to a pharmacokinetic interaction. 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 and Hyperammonemia].
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]. 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.
Drug Reaction With Eosinophilia And Systemic Symptoms (DRESS)/Multiorgan Hypersensitivity Reactions
Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS), also known as Multiorgan Hypersensitivity, has been reported in patients taking valproate. DRESS may be fatal or life- threatening. DRESS typically, although not exclusively, presents with fever, rash, and/or lymphadenopathy, in association with other organ system involvement, such as hepatitis, nephritis, hematological abnormalities, myocarditis, or myositis sometimes resembling an acute viral infection. Eosinophilia is often present. Because this disorder is variable in its expression, other organ systems not noted here may be involved. It is important to note that early manifestations of hypersensitivity, such as fever or lymphadenopathy, may be present even though rash is not evident. If such signs or symptoms are present, the patient should be evaluated immediately. Valproate should be discontinued and not be resumed if an alternative etiology for the signs or symptoms cannot be established.
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].
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].
A study was conducted to evaluate the effect of IV valproate in the prevention of post-traumatic seizures in patients with acute head injuries. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either IV valproate given for one week (followed by oral valproate products for either one or six months per random treatment assignment) or IV phenytoin given for one week (followed by placebo). In this study, the incidence of death was found to be higher in the two groups assigned to valproate treatment compared to the rate in those assigned to the IV phenytoin treatment group (13% vs. 8.5%, respectively). Many of these patients were critically ill with multiple and/or severe injuries, and evaluation of the causes of death did not suggest any specific drug-related causation. Further, in the absence of a concurrent placebo control during the initial week of intravenous therapy, it is impossible to determine if the mortality rate in the patients treated with valproate was greater or less than that expected in a similar group not treated with valproate, or whether the rate seen in the IV phenytoin treated patients was lower than would be expected.
Nonetheless, until further information is available, it seems prudent not to use Depacon in patients with acute head trauma for the prophylaxis of post-traumatic seizures.
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].
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.
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.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, And Impairment Of Fertility
Valproate was administered orally to rats and mice at doses of 80 and 170 mg/kg/day (less than the maximum recommended human dose on a mg/m² basis) for two years. The primary findings were an increase in the incidence of subcutaneous fibrosarcomas in high-dose male rats receiving valproate and a dose-related trend for benign pulmonary adenomas in male mice receiving valproate. The significance of these findings for humans is unknown.
Valproate was not mutagenic in an in vitro bacterial assay (Ames test), did not produce dominant lethal effects in mice, and did not increase chromosome aberration frequency in an in vivo cytogenetic study in rats. Increased frequencies of sister chromatid exchange (SCE) have been reported in a study of epileptic children taking valproate, but this association was not observed in another study conducted in adults. There is some evidence that increased SCE frequencies may be associated with epilepsy. The biological significance of an increase in SCE frequency is not known.
Impairment Of Fertility
Chronic toxicity studies of valproate in juvenile and adult rats and dogs demonstrated reduced spermatogenesis and testicular atrophy at oral doses of 400 mg/kg/day or greater in rats (approximately equivalent to or greater than the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) on a mg/m² basis) and 150 mg/kg/day or greater in dogs (approximately 1.4 times the MRHD or greater on a mg/m² basis). Fertility studies in rats have shown no effect on fertility at oral doses of valproate up to 350 mg/kg/day (approximately equal to the MRHD dose on a mg/m² basis) for 60 days. The effect of valproate on testicular development and on sperm parameters and fertility in humans is unknown.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category D for epilepsy [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
To collect information on the effects of in utero exposure to Depacon, physicians should encourage pregnant patients taking Depacon to enroll in the North American Antiepileptic Drug (NAAED) Pregnancy Registry. This can be done by calling toll free 1-888-233-2334, and must be done by the patients themselves. Information on the registry can be found at the website, http://www.aedpregnancyregistry.org/.
Fetal Risk Summary
All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defects (about 3%), pregnancy loss (about 15%), or other adverse outcomes regardless of drug exposure. Maternal valproate use during pregnancy for any indication increases the risk of congenital malformations, particularly neural tube defects, but also malformations involving other body systems (e.g., craniofacial defects, cardiovascular malformations, hypospadias, limb malformations). The risk of major structural abnormalities is greatest during the first trimester; however, other serious developmental effects can occur with valproate use throughout pregnancy. The rate of congenital malformations among babies born to epileptic mothers who used valproate during pregnancy has been shown to be about four times higher than the rate among babies born to epileptic mothers who used other anti-seizure monotherapies [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Several published epidemiological studies have indicated that children exposed to valproate in utero have lower IQ scores than children exposed to either another antiepileptic drug in utero or to no antiepileptic drugs in utero [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
An observational study has suggested that exposure to valproate products during pregnancy may increase the risk of autism spectrum disorders. In this study, children born to mothers who had used valproate products during pregnancy had 2.9 times the risk (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.7-4.9) of developing autism spectrum disorders compared to children born to mothers not exposed to valproate products during pregnancy. The absolute risks for autism spectrum disorders were 4.4% (95% CI: 2.6%-7.5%) in valproate-exposed children and 1.5% (95% CI: 1.5%-1.6%) in children not exposed to valproate products. Because the study was observational in nature, conclusions regarding a causal association between in utero valproate exposure and an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder cannot be considered definitive.
In animal studies, offspring with prenatal exposure to valproate had structural malformations similar to those seen in humans and demonstrated neurobehavioral deficits.
- Neural tube defects are the congenital malformation most strongly associated with maternal valproate use. The risk of spina bifida following in utero valproate exposure is generally estimated as 1-2%, compared to an estimated general population risk for spina bifida of about 0.06 to 0.07% (6 to 7 in 10,000 births).
- Valproate can cause decreased IQ scores in children whose mothers were treated with valproate during pregnancy.
- Because of the risks of decreased IQ, neural tube
defects, and other fetal adverse events, which may occur very early in
- Valproate should not be administered to a woman of childbearing potential unless the drug is essential to the management of her medical condition. This is especially important when valproate use is considered for a condition not usually associated with permanent injury or death (e.g., migraine).
- Valproate should not be used to treat women with epilepsy who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant unless other treatments have failed to provide adequate symptom control or are otherwise unacceptable. In such women, the benefits of treatment with valproate during pregnancy may still outweigh the risks. When treating a pregnant woman or a woman of childbearing potential, carefully consider both the potential risks and benefits of treatment and provide appropriate counseling.
- To prevent major seizures, women with epilepsy should not discontinue valproate abruptly, as this can precipitate status epilepticus with resulting maternal and fetal hypoxia and threat to life. Even minor seizures may pose some hazard to the developing embryo or fetus. However, discontinuation of the drug may be considered prior to and during pregnancy in individual cases if the seizure disorder severity and frequency do not pose a serious threat to the patient.
- Available prenatal diagnostic testing to detect neural tube and other defects should be offered to pregnant women using valproate.
- Evidence suggests that folic acid supplementation prior to conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy decreases the risk for congenital neural tube defects in the general population. It is not known whether the risk of neural tube defects or decreased IQ in the offspring of women receiving valproate is reduced by folic acid supplementation. Dietary folic acid supplementation both prior to conception and during pregnancy should be routinely recommended for patients using valproate.
- Pregnant women taking valproate may develop clotting abnormalities including thrombocytopenia, hypofibrinogenemia, and/or decrease in other coagulation factors, which may result in hemorrhagic complications in the neonate including death [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. If valproate is used in pregnancy, the clotting parameters should be monitored carefully in the mother. If abnormal in the mother, then these parameters should also be monitored in the neonate.
- Patients taking valproate may develop hepatic failure [see BOXED WARNING and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Fatal cases of hepatic failure in infants exposed to valproate in utero have also been reported following maternal use of valproate during pregnancy.
- Hypoglycemia has been reported in neonates whose mothers have taken valproate during pregnancy.
There is an extensive body of evidence demonstrating that exposure to valproate in utero increases the risk of neural tube defects and other structural abnormalities. Based on published data from the CDC's National Birth Defects Prevention Network, the risk of spina bifida in the general population is about 0.06 to 0.07%. The risk of spina bifida following in utero valproate exposure has been estimated to be approximately 1 to 2%.
The NAAED Pregnancy Registry has reported a major malformation rate of 9-11% in the offspring of women exposed to an average of 1,000 mg/day of valproate monotherapy during pregnancy. These data show up to a five-fold increased risk for any major malformation following valproate exposure in utero compared to the risk following exposure in utero to other antiepileptic drugs taken in monotherapy. The major congenital malformations included cases of neural tube defects, cardiovascular malformations, craniofacial defects (e.g., oral clefts, craniosynostosis), hypospadias, limb malformations (e.g., clubfoot, polydactyly), and malformations of varying severity involving other body systems.
Published epidemiological studies have indicated that children exposed to valproate in utero have lower IQ scores than children exposed to either another antiepileptic drug in utero or to no antiepileptic drugs in utero. The largest of these studies is a prospective cohort study conducted in the United States and United Kingdom that found that children with prenatal exposure to valproate (n=62) had lower IQ scores at age 6 (97 [95% C.I. 94-101]) than children with prenatal exposure to the other anti-epileptic drug monotherapy treatments evaluated: lamotrigine (108 [95% C.I. 105–110]), carbamazepine (105 [95% C.I. 102–108]) and phenytoin (108 [95% C.I. 104–112]). It is not known when during pregnancy cognitive effects in valproate-exposed children occur. Because the women in this study were exposed to antiepileptic drugs throughout pregnancy, whether the risk for decreased IQ was related to a particular time period during pregnancy could not be assessed.
Although all of the available studies have methodological limitations, the weight of the evidence supports a causal association between valproate exposure in utero and subsequent adverse effects on cognitive development.
There are published case reports of fatal hepatic failure in offspring of women who used valproate during pregnancy.
In developmental toxicity studies conducted in mice, rats, rabbits, and monkeys, increased rates of fetal structural abnormalities, intrauterine growth retardation, and embryo-fetal death occurred following treatment of pregnant animals with valproate during organogenesis at clinically relevant doses (calculated on a body surface area basis). Valproate induced malformations of multiple organ systems, including skeletal, cardiac, and urogenital defects. In mice, in addition to other malformations, fetal neural tube defects have been reported following valproate administration during critical periods of organogenesis, and the teratogenic response correlated with peak maternal drug levels. Behavioral abnormalities (including cognitive, locomotor, and social interaction deficits) and brain histopathological changes have also been reported in mice and rat offspring exposed prenatally to clinically relevant doses of valproate.
Valproate is excreted in human milk. Caution should be exercised when valproate is administered to a nursing woman.
Experience with oral valproate has indicated that pediatric patients under the age of two years are at a considerably increased risk of developing fatal hepatotoxicity, especially those with the aforementioned conditions [see BOXED WARNING]. The safety of Depacon has not been studied in individuals below the age of 2 years. If a decision is made to use Depacon in this age group, it should be used with extreme caution and as a sole agent. The benefits of therapy should be weighed against the risks. Above the age of 2 years, experience in epilepsy has indicated that the incidence of fatal hepatotoxicity decreases considerably in progressively older patient groups.
Younger children, especially those receiving enzyme-inducing drugs, will require larger maintenance doses to attain targeted total and unbound valproate concentrations.
The variability in free fraction limits the clinical usefulness of monitoring total serum valproic acid concentrations. Interpretation of valproic acid concentrations in children should include consideration of factors that affect hepatic metabolism and protein binding.
Pediatric Clinical Trials
No unique safety concerns were identified in the 35 patients age 2 to 17 years who received Depacon in clinical trials.
One twelve-month study was conducted to evaluate the safety of Depakote Sprinkle Capsules in the indication of partial seizures (169 patients aged 3 to 10 years). The safety and tolerability of Depakote in pediatric patients were shown to be comparable to those in adults [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].
Juvenile Animal Toxicology
In studies of valproate in immature animals, toxic effects not observed in adult animals included retinal dysplasia in rats treated during the neonatal period (from postnatal day 4) and nephrotoxicity in rats treated during the neonatal and juvenile (from postnatal day 14) periods. The no-effect dose for these findings was less than the maximum recommended human dose on a mg/m² basis.
No patients above the age of 65 years were enrolled in double-blind prospective clinical trials of mania associated with bipolar illness. In a case review study of 583 patients, 72 patients (12%) were greater than 65 years of age. A higher percentage of patients above 65 years of age reported accidental injury, infection, pain, somnolence, and tremor. Discontinuation of valproate was occasionally associated with the latter two events. It is not clear whether these events indicate additional risk or whether they result from preexisting medical illness and concomitant medication use among these patients.
A study of elderly patients with dementia revealed drug related somnolence and discontinuation for somnolence [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. The starting dose should be reduced in these patients, and dosage reductions or discontinuation should be considered in patients with excessive somnolence [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
No unique safety concerns were identified in the 21 patients > 65 years of age receiving Depacon in clinical trials.
1. Meador KJ, Baker GA, Browning N, et al. Fetal antiepileptic drug exposure and cognitive outcomes at age 6 years (NEAD study): a prospective observational study. Lancet Neurology 2013; 12 (3):244-252.This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 3/7/2016
Additional Depacon Information
- Depacon Drug Interactions Center: valproate sodium iv
- Depacon Side Effects Center
- Depacon FDA Approved Prescribing Information including Dosage
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