"Prescription use of benzodiazepinesâ€”a widely used class of sedative and anti-anxiety medicationsâ€”increases steadily with age, despite the known risks for older people, according to a comprehensive analysis of benzodiazepine prescribing in the Uni"...
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The efficacy of alprazolam in the treatment of panic disorder was established in 2 short-term, placebo-controlled trials. [see Clinical Studies].
Demonstrations of the effectiveness of NIRAVAM by systematic clinical study are limited to 4 months in duration for generalized anxiety disorder and 4 to 10 weeks duration for panic disorder; however, patients with panic disorder have been treated on an open basis for up to 8 months without apparent loss of benefit. The physician should periodically reassess the usefulness of the drug for the individual patient.
DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION
Dosage should be individualized for maximum beneficial effect. While the usual daily dosages given below will meet the needs of most patients, there will be some who require doses greater than 4 mg per day. In such cases, the dosage should be increased cautiously to avoid adverse reactions. In general, benzodiazepines should be prescribed for short periods. Reevaluate the need for continued therapy before extending the treatment period.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Initiate treatment with a dose of 0.25 mg to 0.5 mg three times daily. The dose may be increased to achieve a maximum therapeutic effect, at intervals of 3 to 4 days, to a maximum daily dose of 4 mg, given in divided doses. Use the lowest possible effective dose, and periodically reassess the need for continued treatment.. The risk of dependence can increase with dose and duration of treatment.
The dosage should be reduced gradually when discontinuing therapy or when decreasing the daily dosage. Although there are no systematically collected data to support a specific discontinuation schedule, it is suggested that the daily dosage be decreased by no more than 0.5 mg every 3 days. Some patients may require an even slower dosage reduction.
The successful treatment of many panic disorder patients has required the use of alprazolam at doses greater than 4 mg daily. In controlled trials conducted to establish the efficacy of alprazolam in panic disorder, doses in the range of 1 mg to 10 mg daily were used. The mean dosage employed was approximately 5 mg to 6 mg daily. Among the approximately 1700 patients participating in the panic disorder development program, about 300 received alprazolam in dosages of greater than 7 mg per day, including approximately 100 patients who received maximum dosages of greater than 9 mg per day. Occasional patients required as much as 10 mg a day to achieve a successful response.
Initiate treatment with a dose of 0.5 mg three times daily. Depending on the response, the dose may be increased at intervals of 3 to 4 days in increments of no more than 1 mg per day. Slower titration to the dose levels greater than 4 mg per day may be advisable to allow full expression of the pharmacodynamic effect of NIRAVAM. To lessen the possibility of interdose symptoms, the times of administration should be distributed as evenly as possible throughout the waking hours, (i.e., administered three or four times daily).
Generally, therapy should be initiated at a low dose to minimize the risk of adverse responses in patients especially sensitive to the drug. The dose should be advanced until an acceptable therapeutic response (i.e., a substantial reduction in or total elimination of panic attacks) is achieved, intolerance occurs, or the maximum recommended dose is attained.
For patients receiving doses greater than 4 mg per day, periodically reassess treatment and consider a reduction of dosage. In a controlled postmarketing dose-response study, patients treated with doses of alprazolam greater than 4 mg per day for 3 months were able to taper to 50% of their total daily maintenance dose without apparent loss of clinical benefit. Because of the danger of withdrawal, avoid abrupt discontinuation of treatment. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Drug Abuse and Dependence].
The necessary duration of treatment for panic disorder patients responding to NIRAVAM is unknown. After a period of extended freedom from attacks, a carefully supervised tapered discontinuation may be attempted, but there is evidence that this may often be difficult to accomplish without recurrence of symptoms and/or the manifestation of withdrawal phenomena.
In all patients, dosage should be reduced gradually when discontinuing therapy or when decreasing the daily dosage. Although there are no systematically collected data to support a specific discontinuation schedule, it is suggested that the daily dosage be decreased by no more than 0.5 mg every three days. Some patients may require an even slower dosage reduction.
In any case, reduction of dose must be undertaken under close supervision and must be gradual. If significant withdrawal symptoms develop, reinstitute the previous stable dosing schedule. After stabilization, consider using a less rapid schedule of discontinuation. In a controlled postmarketing discontinuation study of panic disorder patients which compared this recommended taper schedule with a slower taper schedule, there was no difference between the groups in the proportion of patients who tapered and completely discontinued treatment with alprazolam; however, the slower schedule was associated with a reduction in symptoms associated with a withdrawal syndrome. Reduce the dose by no more than 0.5 mg every 3 days. Some patients may benefit from an even more gradual discontinuation. Some patients may prove resistant to all discontinuation regimens.
Dosing in Special Populations
In elderly patients, in patients with advanced liver disease, or in patients with debilitating disease (e.g., severe pulmonary disease), the usual starting dose is 0.25 mg, given two or three times daily. This may be gradually increased if needed and tolerated. The elderly may be especially sensitive to the effects of benzodiazepines. If adverse reactions occur at the recommended starting dose, the dose may be lowered.
Instructions to be Given to Patients for Use/Handling NIRAVAM Tablets
Just prior to administration, with dry hands, remove the tablet from the bottle. Immediately place the NIRAVAM tablet on top of the tongue where it will disintegrate and be swallowed with saliva. Administration with liquid is not necessary.
Discard any cotton that was included in the bottle and reseal the bottle tightly to prevent introducing moisture that might cause the tablets to disintegrate.
Dosage Forms And Strengths
0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1.0 mg, and 2.0 mg scored orally disintegrating tablets
Storage And Handling
NIRAVAM (alprazolam orally disintegrating tablets) 0.25 mg are yellow, round, orange-flavored, scored and engraved “SP 321” on the unscored side and “0.25” on the scored side. They are supplied as follows: Bottles of 100 NDC 18860-321-01
NIRAVAM (alprazolam orally disintegrating tablets) 0.5 mg are yellow, round, orange-flavored, scored and engraved “SP 322” on the unscored side and “0.5” on the scored side. They are supplied as follows: Bottles of 100 NDC 18860-322-01
NIRAVAM (alprazolam orally disintegrating tablets) 1 mg are white, round, orange-flavored, scored and engraved “SP 323” on the unscored side and “1” on the scored side. They are supplied as follows: Bottles of 100 NDC 18860-323-01
NIRAVAM (alprazolam orally disintegrating tablets) 2 mg are white, round, orange-flavored, scored and engraved “SP 324” on the unscored side and “2” on the scored side. They are supplied as follows: Bottles of 100 NDC 18860-324-01
Store at 20° to 25°C (68° to 77°F); excursions permitted between 15° to 30°C (59° to 86°F) [See USP Controlled Room Temperature]. Protect from moisture.
Manufactured for: Azur Pharma, Inc. Philadelphia, PA 19103, USA. By: CIMA® LABS INC. Eden Prairie, MN 55344, USAThis monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 6/24/2011
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