"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Northera capsules (droxidopa) for the treatment of neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (NOH). NOH is a rare, chronic and often debilitating drop in blood pressure upon standing that is associate"...
NORTHERA therapy may cause or exacerbate supine hypertension in patients with nOH. Patients should be advised to elevate the head of the bed when resting or sleeping. Monitor blood pressure, both in the supine position and in the recommended head-elevated sleeping position. Reduce or discontinue NORTHERA if supine hypertension persists. If supine hypertension is not well-managed, NORTHERA may increase the risk of cardiovascular events, particularly stroke.
Hyperpyrexia And Confusion
Postmarketing cases of a symptom complex resembling neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) have been reported with NORTHERA use during postmarketing surveillance. Observe patients carefully when the dosage of NORTHERA is changed or when concomitant levodopa is reduced abruptly or discontinued, especially if the patient is receiving neuroleptics.
NMS is an uncommon but life-threatening syndrome characterized by fever or hyperthermia, muscle rigidity, involuntary movements, altered consciousness, and mental status changes. The early diagnosis of this condition is important for the appropriate management of these patients.
Ischemic Heart Disease, Arrhythmias, And Congestive Heart Failure
NORTHERA may exacerbate existing ischemic heart disease, arrhythmias, and congestive heart failure. Careful consideration should be given to this potential risk prior to initiating therapy in patients with these conditions.
Hypersensitivity reactions including anaphylaxis, angioedema, bronchospasm, urticaria and rash have been reported in postmarketing experience. Some of these reactions resulted in emergency treatment. If a hypersensitivity reaction occurs, discontinue the drug and initiate appropriate therapy.
This product contains FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine) which may also cause allergic-type reactions (including bronchial asthma) in certain susceptible persons. Although the overall incidence of FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine) sensitivity in the general population is low, it is frequently seen in patients who also have aspirin hypersensitivity [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
Long-term studies have been conducted at dosages up to 1,000 mg/kg/day in mice and up to 100 mg/kg/day in rats with no indication of carcinogenic effects. Based on dose per unit body surface area, these two doses correspond to approximately 3 and 0.5 times, respectively, the maximum recommended total daily dose of 1,800 mg in a 60 kg patient. Droxidopa was clastogenic in Chinese hamster ovary cells (chromosome aberration assay), but was not mutagenic in bacteria (Ames assay), and was not clastogenic in a mouse micronucleus assay.
Studies in rats show that droxidopa has no effect on fertility.
Use In Specific Populations
There are no available data on use of NORTHERA in pregnant women and risk of major birth defects or miscarriage. NORTHERA did not produce significant reproductive toxicity in pregnant female rats or rabbits or in their fetuses. However, when pregnant female rats were dosed during days 7-17 of gestation (the period of fetal organogenesis) with doses of NORTHERA corresponding to 0.3, 1 and 3 times the maximum recommended daily dose of 1,800 mg in a 60 kg patient, based on body surface area, and when their male and female offspring (who were exposed only during fetal life) were subsequently bred, the female offspring exhibited a dose-dependent reduction in the number of live fetuses across all three doses and an increased number of embryonic/fetal deaths at the two higher doses (see Data).
The estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in the indicated population is unknown. In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2 to 4% and 15 to 20%, respectively.
During a multigenerational reproductive toxicity study in rats, pregnant females were dosed during days 7-17 of gestation (the period of fetal organogenesis) with doses of NORTHERA corresponding to 0.3, 1 and 3 times the maximum recommended daily dose of 1,800 mg in a 60 kg patient. Reduced weight gain, renal lesions, and a small number of deaths were observed in females treated with the two higher doses. When their male and female offspring (who were exposed to NORTHERA only during fetal life) were subsequently bred, the female offspring exhibited a dose-dependent reduction in the number of live fetuses across all three doses and an increased number of embryonic/fetal deaths at the two higher doses.
There is no information regarding the presence of NORTHERA or its active metabolite(s) in human milk, the effects of NORTHERA on the breastfed child, nor the effects of NORTHERA on milk production/excretion. Droxidopa is present in rat milk with peak concentrations seen 4 hours after oral drug administration and drug excretion into milk still occurring 48 hours after administration (see Data). However, due to species-specific differences in lactation physiology, animal lactation data typically do not reliably predict levels in humans. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions, including reduced weight gain in breastfed infants, advise a woman not to breastfeed during treatment with NORTHERA.
In rats, oral administration of droxidopa resulted in excretion into breast milk with peak concentrations seen 4 hours after administration, and excretion still occurring 48 hours after administration. When the drug was administered to nursing dams during the period of lactation at a dose corresponding to 3 times the maximum recommended daily dose of 1,800 mg in a 60 kg patient when based on body surface area, reduced weight gain and reduced survival were observed in the offspring. Despite the observed decreased weight gain, physical development was normal (with respect to timing and organ morphology).
The safety and effectiveness of NORTHERA in pediatric patients have not been established.
A total of 197 patients with symptomatic nOH aged 75 years or above were included in the NORTHERA clinical program. No overall differences in safety or effectiveness were observed between these patients and younger patients, and other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients, but greater sensitivity of some older individuals cannot be ruled out.
NORTHERA and its metabolites are primarily cleared renally. Patients with mild or moderate renal impairment (GFR greater than 30 mL/min) were included in clinical trials and did not have a higher frequency of adverse reactions. Clinical experience with NORTHERA in patients with severe renal function impairment (GFR less than 30 mL/min) is limited.This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 2/24/2017
Additional Northera Information
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