Depakote Sprinkle Capsules
Hepatic failure resulting in fatalities has occurred in patients receiving valproic acid. 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. Liver function tests should be performed prior to therapy and at frequent intervals thereafter, especially during the first six months. 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 Depakote 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. 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 Depakote 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. Above this age group, experience in epilepsy has indicated that the incidence of fatal hepatotoxicity decreases considerably in progressively older patient groups.
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].
Teratogenicity/Usage in Pregnancy
Use of Depakote during pregnancy can cause congenital malformations including neural tube defects. If this drug is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus. Depakote should be considered for women of childbearing potential only after the risks have been thoroughly discussed with the patient and weighed against the potential benefits of treatment.
Data suggest that there is an increased incidence of congenital malformations associated with the use of valproate by women with seizure disorders during pregnancy when compared to the incidence in women with seizure disorders who do not use antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy, the incidence in women with seizure disorders who use other antiepileptic drugs, and the background incidence for the general population.
There are multiple reports in the clinical literature that indicate the use of antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy results in an increased incidence of congenital malformations in offspring. Antiepileptic drugs, including valproate, should be administered to women of childbearing potential only if they are clearly shown to be essential in the management of their medical condition.
Antiepileptic drugs should not be discontinued abruptly in patients in whom the drug is administered to prevent major seizures because of the strong possibility of precipitating status epilepticus with attendant hypoxia and threat to life. In individual cases where the severity and frequency of the seizure disorder are such that the removal of medication does not pose a serious threat to the patient, discontinuation of the drug may be considered prior to and during pregnancy, although it cannot be said with any confidence that even minor seizures do not pose some hazard to the developing embryo or fetus [see Boxed Warning and Use in Specific Populations].
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, Depakote should ordinarily be discontinued. Alternative treatment for the underlying medical condition should be initiated as clinically indicated [see Boxed Warning].
Urea Cycle Disorders
Depakote 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 Depakote 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 WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS]
The frequency of adverse effects (particularly elevated liver enzymes and thrombocytopenia) may be dose-related. In a clinical trial of Depakote 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.
Because of reports of thrombocytopenia inhibition of the secondary phase of platelet aggregation, and abnormal coagulation parameters, (e.g., low fibrinogen), platelet counts and coagulation tests are recommended before initiating therapy and at periodic intervals. It is recommended that patients receiving Depakote be monitored for platelet count and coagulation parameters prior to planned surgery. 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). 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 [see CONTRAINDICATIONS and WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS].
Hyperammonemia should also be considered in patients who present with hypothermia [see WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS]. 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 and WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS]. 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 valproic acid 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 WARNINGS and WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS]. In most cases, symptoms and signs abated with discontinuation of either drug. This adverse event is not due to a pharmacokinetic interaction. It is not known if topiramate monotherapy is associated with hyperammonemia. 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 valproic acid 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 WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS].
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 cardiovacular and respiratory systems. Clinical management and assessment should include examination of blood ammonia levels.
Multi-Organ Hypersensitivity Reactions
Multi-organ hypersensitivity reactions have been rarely reported in close temporal association to the initiation of valproate therapy in adult and pediatric patients (median time to detection 21 days: range 1 to 40 days). Although there have been a limited number of reports, many of these cases resulted in hospitalization and at least one death has been reported. Signs and symptoms of this disorder were diverse; however, patients typically, although not exclusively, presented with fever and rash associated with other organ system involvement. Other associated manifestations may include lymphadenopathy, hepatitis, liver function test abnormalities, hematological abnormalities (e.g., eosinophilia, thrombocytopenia, neutropenia), pruritis, nephritis, oliguria, hepato-renal syndrome, arthralgia, and asthenia. Because the disorder is variable in its expression, other organ system symptoms and signs, not noted here, may occur. If this reaction is suspected, valproate should be discontinued and an alternative treatment started. Although the existence of cross sensitivity with other drugs that produce this syndrome is unclear, the experience amongst drugs associated with multi-organ hypersensitivity would indicate this to be a possibility.
Interaction with Carbapenem Antibiotics
Carbapenem antibiotics (ertapenem, imipenem, meropenem) may reduce serum valproic acid concentrations to subtherapeutic levels, resulting in loss of seizure control. Serum valproic acid concentrations should be monitored frequently after initiating carbapenem therapy. Alternative antibacterial or anticonvulsant therapy should be considered if serum valproic acid 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].
Monitoring: Drug Plasma Concentration
Since Depakote 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 [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].
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.
Patient Counseling Information
See FDA-Approved Patient Labeling
Patients and guardians should be warned that nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, anorexia, diarrhea, asthenia, and/or jaundice can be symptoms of hepatotoxicity and, therefore, require further medical evaluation promptly.
Patients and guardians should be warned that abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or anorexia can be symptoms of pancreatitis and, therefore, require further medical evaluation promptly [see WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS].
Teratogenicity/Usage in Pregnancy
Use of valproate during pregnancy increases the risk for neural tube defects and other malformations. Female patients of child- bearing age, who require therapy for epilepsy, bipolar disorder, or migraines, should be advised of the risks of valproate use during pregnancy and appropriate therapeutic options. This is particularly important when the treatment of a spontaneously reversible condition not ordinarily associated with permanent injury or risk of death (e.g. migraine) is considered. Patients should read the Patient Information Leaflet, (17.6) which appears as the last section of the labeling [see Use in Specific Populations].
Patients should be informed of the signs and symptoms associated with hyperammonemic encephalopathy and be told to inform the prescriber if any of these symptoms occur [see WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS].
Since valproate products may produce CNS depression, especially when combined with another CNS depressant (eg, alcohol), patients should be advised not to engage in hazardous activities, such as driving an automobile or operating dangerous machinery, until it is known that they do not become drowsy from the drug.
Multi-organ Hypersensitivity Reaction
Patients should be instructed that a fever associated with other organ system involvement (rash, lymphadenopathy, etc.) may be drug-related and should be reported to the physician immediately [see WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS].
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Valproic acid was administered orally to Sprague Dawley rats and ICR (HA/ICR) mice at doses of 80 and 170 mg/kg/day (approximately 10 to 50% of the maximum human daily dose on a mg/m2 basis) for two years. A variety of neoplasms were observed in both species. The primary findings were a statistically significant increase in the incidence of subcutaneous fibrosarcomas in high dose male rats receiving valproic acid and a statistically significant dose-related trend for benign pulmonary adenomas in male mice receiving valproic acid. 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.
Chronic toxicity studies 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 human daily dose (MHD) on a mg/m2 basis) and 150 mg/kg/day or greater in dogs (approximately 1.4 times the MHD or greater on a mg/m2 basis). Fertility studies in rats have shown doses up to 350 mg/kg/day (approximately equal to the MHD on a mg/m2 basis) for 60 days to have no effect on fertility. The effect of valproate on testicular development and on sperm production and fertility in humans is unknown.
Use In Specific Populations
Teratogenic Effects: Pregnancy Category D.
Use of Depakote during pregnancy can cause congenital malformations including neural tube defects. If this drug is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus. Depakote should be considered for women of childbearing potential only after the risks have been thoroughly discussed with the patient and weighed against the potential benefits of treatment [see WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS].
The North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry reported 16 cases of congenital malformations among the offspring of 149 women with epilepsy who were exposed to valproic acid monotherapy during the first trimester of pregnancy at doses of approximately 1,000 mg per day, for a prevalence rate of 10.7% (95% CI 6.3%-16.9%). Three of the 149 offspring (2%) had neural tube defects and 6 of the 149 (4%) had less severe malformations. Among epileptic women who were exposed to other antiepileptic drug monotherapies during pregnancy (1,048 patients) the malformation rate was 2.9% (95% CI 2.0% to 4.1%). There was a 4-fold increase in congenital malformations among infants with valproic acid-exposed mothers compared with those treated with other antiepileptic monotherapies as a group (Odds Ratio 4.0; 95% CI 2.1 to 7.4). This increased risk does not reflect a comparison versus any specific antiepileptic drug, but the risk versus the heterogeneous group of all other antiepileptic drug monotherapies combined. The increased teratogenic risk from valproic acid in women with epilepsy is expected to be reflected in an increased risk in other indications (e.g., migraine or bipolar disorder).
The strongest association of maternal valproate usage with congenital malformations is with neural tube defects (as discussed under the next subheading). However, other congenital anomalies (e.g. craniofacial defects, cardiovascular malformations and anomalies involving various body systems), compatible and incompatible with life, have been reported. Sufficient data to determine the incidence of these congenital anomalies are not available.
Neural Tube Defects
The incidence of neural tube defects in the fetus is increased in mothers receiving valproate during the first trimester of pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has estimated the risk of valproic acid exposed women having children with spina bifida to be approximately 1 to 2%. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimates the general population risk for congenital neural tube defects as 0.14% to 0.2%.
Tests to detect neural tube and other defects using currently accepted procedures should be considered a part of routine prenatal care in pregnant women receiving valproate.
Evidence suggests that pregnant women who receive folic acid supplementation may be at decreased risk for congenital neural tube defects in their offspring compared to pregnant women not receiving folic acid. Whether the risk of neural tube defects in the offspring of women receiving valproate specifically is reduced by folic acid supplementation is unknown. Dietary folic acid supplementation both prior to and during pregnancy should be routinely recommended to patients contemplating pregnancy.
Other Adverse Pregnancy Effects
Patients taking valproate may develop clotting abnormalities [see WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS]. A patient who had low fibrinogen when taking multiple anticonvulsants including valproate gave birth to an infant with afibrinogenemia who subsequently died of hemorrhage. If valproate is used in pregnancy, the clotting parameters should be monitored carefully.
Patients taking valproate may develop hepatic failure [see WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS]. Fatal hepatic failures, in a newborn and in an infant, have been reported following the maternal use of valproate during pregnancy.
Reproduction studies have demonstrated valproate-induced teratogenicity. Increased incidences of malformations, as well as intrauterine growth retardation and death, have been observed in mice, rats, rabbits, and monkeys following prenatal exposure to valproate. Malformations of the skeletal system are the most common structural abnormalities produced in experimental animals; however, neural tube closure defects were observed in mice exposed during organogenesis to maternal plasma valproate concentrations 2.3 times the upper limit of the human therapeutic range.
In pregnant rats, oral administration during organogenesis of a dose ≥0.5 times the maximum recommended daily human dose (MRHD) on a mg/m2 basis produced malformations (e.g. skeletal, cardiac, and urogenital) and growth retardation in the offspring. These doses resulted in peak maternal plasma valproate levels of ≥3.4 times the upper limit of the human therapeutic range. Behavioral deficits have been reported in the offspring of rats given 0.5 times the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis throughout most of pregnancy.
Valproate produced skeletal and visceral malformations in the offspring of pregnant rabbits given an oral dose approximately 2 times the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis during organogenesis. Skeletal malformations, growth retardation, and death were observed in rhesus monkeys following an oral dose equal to the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis during organogenesis. This dose resulted in peak maternal plasma valproate levels 2.8 times the upper limit of the human therapeutic range.
Women who become pregnant while using valproic acid should be encouraged to enroll in the AED (antiepileptic drug) Pregnancy Registry at 1-888-233-2334.
Valproate is excreted in breast milk. Concentrations in breast milk have been reported to be 1-10% of serum concentrations. Because of the potential for adverse reactions in a nursing infant, a decision between the physician and the patient should be made on whether to discontinue nursi\ng or consider an alternative drug treatment for the mother, as appropriate.
Experience 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, WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS]. When DEPAKOTE 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. 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 valproic acid concentrations. Pediatric patients (i.e., between 3 months and 10 years) have 50% higher clearances expressed on weight (i.e., mL/min/kg) than do adults. Over the age of 10 years, children have pharmacokinetic parameters that approximate those of adults. 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.
Depakote has not been established to be safe and effective for the treatment of partial seizures in children under the age of 10 years.
Pediatric Clinical Trials
Depakote was studied in seven pediatric clinical trials.
Two of the pediatric studies were double-blinded placebo-controlled trials to evaluate the efficacy of DEPAKOTE for the indications of mania (150 patients aged 10 to 17 years, 76 of whom were on Depakote) and migraine (304 patients aged 12 to 17 years, 231 of whom were on Depakote). Efficacy was not established for either the treatment of migraine or the treatment of mania.
The remaining five trials were long term safety studies. Two six-month pediatric studies were conducted to evaluate the long- term safety of Depakote for the indication of mania (292 patients aged 10 to 17 years). Two twelve-month pediatric studies were conducted to evaluate the long-term safety of Depakote for the indication of migraine (353 patients aged 12 to 17 years). One twelve- month study was conducted to evaluate the safety of Depakote 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].
Nonclinical Developmental Toxicology
The basic toxicology and pathologic manifestations of valproate sodium in neonatal (4-day old) and juvenile (14-day old) rats are similar to those seen in young adult rats. However, additional findings, including renal alterations in juvenile rats and renal alterations and retinal dysplasia in neonatal rats, have been reported. These findings occurred at a dose approximately equal to the maximum recommended daily human dose (MRHD). They were not seen at a dose 0.4 times the MRHD.
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].
The capacity of elderly patients (age range: 68 to 89 years) to eliminate valproate has been shown to be reduced compared to younger adults (age range: 22 to 26) [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
Effect of Disease
Last reviewed on RxList: 4/17/2008
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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