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The most notable signs of toxicity associated with the intravenous use of this drug are cardiovascular collapse and/or central nervous system depression. Hypotension does occur when the drug is administered rapidly by the intravenous route. The rate of administration is very important; it should not exceed 50 mg per minute in adults, and 1-3 mg/kg/min (or 50 mg per minute, whichever is slower) in pediatric patients.
Body As a Whole: Allergic reactions in the form of rash and rarely more serious forms (see Skin and Appendages paragraph below) and DRESS (see WARNINGS) have been observed. Anaphylaxis has also been reported.
Cardiovascular: Severe cardiovascular events and fatalities have been reported with atrial and ventricular conduction depression and ventricular fibrillation. Severe complications are most commonly encountered in elderly or critically ill patients (see WARNINGS).
Nervous System: The most common manifestations encountered with phenytoin therapy are referable to this system and are usually dose-related. These include nystagmus, ataxia, slurred speech, decreased coordination, somnolence, and mental confusion. Dizziness, insomnia, transient nervousness, motor twitchings, paresthesia, and headaches have also been observed. There have also been rare reports of phenytoin induced dyskinesias, including chorea, dystonia, tremor and asterixis, similar to those induced by phenothiazine and other neuroleptic drugs.
A predominantly sensory peripheral polyneuropathy has been observed in patients receiving long-term phenytoin therapy.
Skin and Appendages: Dermatological manifestations sometimes accompanied by fever have included scarlatiniform or morbilliform rashes. A morbilliform rash (measles-like) is the most common; other types of dermatitis are seen more rarely. Other more serious forms which may be fatal have included bullous, exfoliative or purpuric dermatitis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and toxic epidermal necrolysis (see WARNINGS section). There have also been reports of hypertrichosis. Local irritation, inflammation, tenderness, necrosis, and sloughing have been reported with or without extravasation of intravenous phenytoin (see WARNINGS).
Hematologic and Lymphatic System: Hematopoietic complications, some fatal, have occasionally been reported in association with administration of phenytoin. These have included thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, granulocytopenia, agranulocytosis, and pancytopenia with or without bone marrow suppression. While macrocytosis and megaloblastic anemia have occurred, these conditions usually respond to folic acid therapy. Lymphadenopathy, including benign lymph node hyperplasia, pseudolymphoma, lymphoma, and Hodgkin's Disease have been reported (see WARNINGS).
Special Senses: Altered taste sensation including metallic taste.
Urogenital: Peyronie's disease
Read the Dilantin (phenytoin) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects
Phenytoin is extensively bound to serum plasma proteins and is prone to competitive displacement. Phenytoin is metabolized by hepatic cytochrome P450 enzymes CYP2C9 and CYP2C19 and is particularly susceptible to inhibitory drug interactions because it is subject to saturable metabolism. Inhibition of metabolism may produce significant increases in circulating phenytoin concentrations and enhance the risk of drug toxicity. Phenytoin is a potent inducer of hepatic drug-metabolizing enzymes. Serum level determinations for phenytoin are especially helpful when possible drug interactions are suspected.
The most commonly occurring drug interactions are listed below: Note: The list is not intended to be inclusive or comprehensive. Individual drug package inserts should be consulted.
Drugs that affect phenytoin concentrations:
- Drugs that may increase phenytoin serum levels, include: acute alcohol intake, amiodarone, anti-epileptic agents (ethosuximide, felbamate, oxcarbazepine, methsuximide, topiramate), azoles (fluconazole, ketoconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole), capecitabine, chloramphenicol, chlordiazepoxide, cimetidine, diazepam, disulfiram, estrogens, fluorouracil, fluoxetine, fluvastatin, fluvoxamine, H2-antagonists (e.g. cimetidine), halothane, isoniazid, methylphenidate, omeprazole, phenothiazines, salicylates, sertraline, succinimides, sulfonamides (e.g., sulfamethizole, sulfaphenazole, sulfadiazine, sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim), ticlopidine, tolbutamide, trazodone, and warfarin.
- Drugs that may decrease phenytoin levels, include: anticancer drugs usually in combination (e.g., bleomycin, carboplatin, cisplatin, doxorubicin, methotrexate), carbamazepine, chronic alcohol abuse, folic acid, fosamprenavir, nelfinavir, reserpine, ritonavir, St. John's Wort, and vigabatrin.
- Drugs that may either increase or decrease phenytoin serum levels include: phenobarbital, sodium valproate, and valproic acid. Similarly, the effect of phenytoin on phenobarbital, valproic acid and sodium valproate serum levels is unpredictable.
- The addition or withdrawal of the agents in patients on phenytoin therapy may require an adjustment of the phenytoin dose to achieve optimal clinical outcome.
Drugs affected by phenytoin:
- Drugs that should not be coadministered with phenytoin: Delavirdine (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
- Drugs whose efficacy is impaired by phenytoin include: azoles (fluconazole, ketoconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole, posaconazole), corticosteroids, doxycycline, estrogens, furosemide, irinotecan, oral contaceptives, paclitaxel, paroxetine, quinidine, rifampin, sertraline, tenisposide, theophylline, and Vitamin D.
- Increased and decreased PT/INR responses have been reported when phenytoin is coadministered with warfarin.
- Phenytoin decreases plasma concentrations of certain HIV antivirals ( efavirenz, lopinavir/ritonavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir), anti-epileptic agents (felbamate, topiramate, oxcarbazepine, quetiapine), atorvastatin, cyclosporine, digoxin, fluvastatin, folic acid, mexiletine, nisoldipine, praziquantel, and simvastatin.
- Phenytoin when given with fosamprenavir alone may decrease the concentration of amprenavir, the active metabolite. Phenytoin when given with the combination of fosamprenavir and ritonavir may increase the concentration of amprenavir.
- Resistance to the neuromuscular blocking action of the nondepolarizing neuromuscular blocking agents pancuronium, vecuronium, rocuronium, and cisatracurium has occurred in patients chronically administered phenytoin. Whether or not phenytoin has the same effect on other non-depolarizing agents is unknown. Patients should be monitored closely for more rapid recovery from neuromuscular blockade than expected, and infusion rate requirements may be higher.
- The addition or withdrawal of phenytoin during concomitant therapy with these agents may require adjustment of the dose of these agents to achieve optimal clinical outcome.
Drug-Enteral Feeding/Nutritional Preparations Interaction
Literature reports suggest that patients who have received enteral feeding preparations and/or related nutritional supplements have lower than expected phenytoin plasma levels. It is therefore suggested that phenytoin not be administered concomitantly with an enteral feeding preparation. More frequent serum phenytoin level monitoring may be necessary in these patients.
Drug/Laboratory Test Interactions
Phenytoin may decrease serum concentrations of T4. It may also produce lower than normal values for dexamethasone or metyrapone tests. Phenytoin may also cause increased serum levels of glucose, alkaline phosphatase, and gamma glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT).
Care should be taken when using immunoanalytical methods to measure plasma phenytoin concentrations following fosphenytoin administration.
Last reviewed on RxList: 2/7/2014
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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