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Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk
Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), both adult and pediatric, may experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence of suicidal ideation and behavior (suicidality) or unusual changes in behavior, whether or not they are taking antidepressant medications, and this risk may persist until significant remission occurs. Suicide is a known risk of depression and certain other psychiatric disorders and these disorders themselves are the strongest predictors of suicide. There has been a long standing concern, however, that antidepressants may have a role in inducing worsening of depression and the emergence of suicidality in certain patients during the early phases of treatment. Pooled analyses of short-term placebo-controlled trials of antidepressant drugs (SSRIs and others) showed that these drugs increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 18 – 24) with MDD and other psychiatric disorders. Short-term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24; there was a reduction with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older.
The pooled analyses of placebo-controlled trials in children and adolescents with MDD, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 24 short-term trials of 9 antidepressant drugs in over 4,400 patients. The pooled analyses of placebo-controlled trials in adults with MDD or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 295 short-term trials (median duration of 2 months) of 11 antidepressant drugs in over 77,000 patients. There was considerable variation in risk of suicidality among drugs, but a tendency toward an increase in the younger patients for almost all drugs studied. There were differences in absolute risk of suicidality across the different indications, with the highest incidence in MDD. The risk differences (drug vs. placebo), however, were relatively stable within age strata and across indications. These risk differences (drug-placebo difference in the number of cases of suicidality per 1,000 patients treated) are provided in Table 1.
|Age Range||Drug-Placebo Difference in Number of Cases of Suicidality per 1,000 Patients Treated|
|Increases Compared to Placebo|
|< 18||14 additional cases|
|18 - 24||5 additional cases|
|Decreases Compared to Placebo|
|25 - 64||1 fewer case|
|≥ 65||6 fewer cases|
No suicides occurred in any of the pediatric trials. There were suicides in the adult trials, but the number was not sufficient to reach any conclusion about drug effect on suicide.
It is unknown whether the suicidality risk extends to longer-term use, i.e., beyond several months. However, there is substantial evidence from placebo-controlled maintenance trials in adults with depression that the use of antidepressants can delay the recurrence of depression.
All patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy, or at times of dose changes, either increases or decreases.
The following symptoms, anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania, have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric. Although a causal link between the emergence of such symptoms and either the worsening of depression and/or the emergence of suicidal impulses has not been established, there is concern that such symptoms may represent precursors to emerging suicidality.
Consideration should be given to changing the therapeutic regimen, including possibly discontinuing the medication, in patients whose depression is persistently worse, or who are experiencing emergent suicidality or symptoms that might be precursors to worsening depression or suicidality, especially if these symptoms are severe, abrupt in onset, or were not part of the patient's presenting symptoms.
Families and caregivers of patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder or other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric, should be alerted about the need to monitor patients for the emergence of agitation, irritability, unusual changes in behavior, and the other symptoms described above, as well as the emergence of suicidality, and to report such symptoms immediately to health care providers. Such monitoring should include daily observation by families and caregivers. Prescriptions for Oleptro should be written for the smallest quantity of tablets consistent with good patient management, in order to reduce the risk of overdose.
The development of a potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome has been reported with SNRIs and SSRIs, including Oleptro, alone but particularly with concomitant use of other serotonergic drugs (including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, tryptophan, buspirone, and St. John's Wort) and with drugs that impair metabolism of serotonin (in particular, MAOIs, both those intended to treat psychiatric disorders and also others, such as linezolid and intravenous methylene blue).
Serotonin syndrome symptoms may include mental status changes (e.g., agitation, hallucinations, delirium, and coma), autonomic instability (e.g., tachycardia, labile blood pressure, dizziness, diaphoresis, flushing, hyperthermia), neuromuscular symptoms (e.g., tremor, rigidity, myoclonus, hyperreflexia, incoordination), seizures, and/or gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea). Patients should be monitored for the emergence of serotonin syndrome.
The concomitant use of Oleptro with MAOIs intended to treat psychiatric disorders is contraindicated. Oleptro should also not be started in a patient who is being treated with MAOIs such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue. All reports with methylene blue that provided information on the route of administration involved intravenous administration in the dose range of 1 mg/kg to 8 mg/kg. No reports involved the administration of methylene blue by other routes (such as oral tablets or local tissue injection) or at lower doses. There may be circumstances when it is necessary to initiate treatment with an MAOI such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue in a patient taking Oleptro. Oleptro should be discontinued before initiating treatment with the MAOI. [see CONTRAINDICATIONS and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
If concomitant use of Oleptro with other serotonergic drugs, triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, buspirone, tryptophan and St. John's Wort is clinically warranted, patients should be made aware of a potential increased risk for serotonin syndrome, particularly during treatment initiation and dose increases.
Treatment with Oleptro and any concomitant serotonergic agents, should be discontinued immediately if the above events occur and supportive symptomatic treatment should be initiated.
Screening Patients for Bipolar Disorder and Monitoring for Mania/Hypomania
A major depressive episode may be the initial presentation of bipolar disorder. It is generally believed (though not established in controlled trials) that treating such an episode with an antidepressant alone may increase the likelihood of precipitation of a mixed/manic episode in patients at risk for bipolar disorder. Whether any of the symptoms described for clinical worsening and suicide risk represent such a conversion is unknown. However, prior to initiating treatment with an antidepressant, patients with depressive symptoms should be adequately screened to determine if they are at risk for bipolar disorder; such screening should include a detailed psychiatric history, including a family history of suicide, bipolar disorder, and depression. It should be noted that Oleptro is not approved for use in treating bipolar depression.
QT Prolongation and Risk of Sudden Death
Trazodone is known to prolong the QT/QTc interval. Some drugs that prolong the QT/QTc interval can cause Torsades de Pointes with sudden, unexplained death. The relationship of QT prolongation is clearest for larger increases (20 msec and greater), but it is possible that smaller QT/QTc prolongations may also increase risk, especially in susceptible individuals, such as those with hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, or a genetic predisposition to prolonged QT/QTc.
Although Torsades de Pointes has not been observed with the use of Oleptro at recommended doses in premarketing trials, experience is too limited to rule out an increased risk. However, there have been postmarketing reports of Torsades de Pointes with the immediate-release form of trazodone (in the presence of multiple confounding factors), even at doses of 100 mg per day or less.
Use in Patients with Heart Disease
Trazodone hydrochloride is not recommended for use during the initial recovery phase of myocardial infarction.
Caution should be used when administering Oleptro to patients with cardiac disease and such patients should be closely monitored, since antidepressant drugs (including trazodone hydrochloride) may cause cardiac arrhythmias.
QT prolongation has been reported with trazodone therapy. Clinical studies in patients with pre-existing cardiac disease indicate that trazodone hydrochloride may be arrhythmogenic in some patients in that population. Arrhythmias identified include isolated PVCs, ventricular couplets, tachycardia with syncope, and Torsades de Pointes. Postmarketing events have been reported at doses of 100 mg or less with the immediate-release form of trazodone.
Concomitant administration of drugs that prolong the QT interval or that are inhibitors of CYP3A4 may increase the risk of cardiac arrhythmia.
Orthostatic Hypotension and Syncope
Hypotension, including orthostatic hypotension and syncope has been reported in patients receiving trazodone hydrochloride. Concomitant use with an antihypertensive may require a reduction in the dose of the antihypertensive drug.
Postmarketing data have shown an association between use of drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake and the occurrence of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding. While no association between trazodone and bleeding events, in particular GI bleeding, was shown, patients should be cautioned about potential risk of bleeding associated with the concomitant use of trazodone and NSAIDs, aspirin, or other drugs that affect coagulation or bleeding. Other bleeding events related to SSRIs and SNRIs have ranged from ecchymosis, hematoma, epistaxis, and petechiae to life-threatening hemorrhages.
Interaction with MAOIs
In patients receiving serotonergic drugs in combination with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), there have been reports of serious, sometimes fatal reactions including hyperthermia, rigidity, myoclonus, autonomic instability with rapid fluctuation in vital signs, and mental status changes that include extreme agitation progressing to delirium and coma. These reactions have also been reported in patients who have recently discontinued antidepressant treatment and have been started on an MAOI. Some cases presented with features resembling neuroleptic malignant syndrome. Furthermore, limited animal data on the effects of combined use of serotonergic antidepressants and MAOIs suggest that these drugs may act synergistically to elevate blood pressure and evoke behavioral excitation. Therefore, it is recommended that Oleptro should not be used in combination with an MAOI or within 14 days of discontinuing treatment with an MAOI. Similarly, at least 14 days should be allowed after stopping Oleptro before starting an MAOI.
Rare cases of priapism (painful erections greater than 6 hours in duration) were reported in men receiving trazodone. Priapism, if not treated promptly, can result in irreversible damage to the erectile tissue. Men who have an erection lasting greater than 6 hours, whether painful or not, should immediately discontinue the drug and seek emergency medical attention [see ADVERSE REACTIONS and OVERDOSAGE].
Trazodone should be used with caution in men who have conditions that might predispose them to priapism (e.g., sickle cell anemia, multiple myeloma, or leukemia), or in men with anatomical deformation of the penis (e.g., angulation, cavernosal fibrosis, or Peyronie's disease).
Hyponatremia may occur as a result of treatment with antidepressants. In many cases, this hyponatremia appears to be the result of the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH). Cases with serum sodium lower than 110 mmol/L have been reported. Elderly patients may be at greater risk of developing hyponatremia with antidepressants. Also, patients taking diuretics or who are otherwise volume-depleted can be at greater risk. Discontinuation of Oleptro should be considered in patients with symptomatic hyponatremia and appropriate medical intervention should be instituted.
Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia include headache, difficulty concentrating, memory impairment, confusion, weakness, and unsteadiness, which can lead to falls. Signs and symptoms associated with more severe and/or acute cases have included hallucination, syncope, seizure, coma, respiratory arrest, and death.
Potential for Cognitive and Motor Impairment
Oleptro may cause somnolence or sedation and may impair the mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks. Patients should be cautioned about operating hazardous machinery, including automobiles, until they are reasonably certain that the drug treatment does not affect them adversely.
Withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, agitation and sleep disturbances, have been reported with trazodone. Clinical experience suggests that the dose should be gradually reduced before complete discontinuation of the treatment.
Patient Counseling Information
See Medication Guide.
Information for Patients
- Prescribers or other health professionals should inform patients, their families, and their caregivers about the benefits and risks associated with treatment with Oleptro and should counsel them in its appropriate use.
- Patients should be warned that:
- There is a potential for increased risk of suicidal thoughts especially in children, teenagers and young adults.
- The following symptoms should be reported to the physician: anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia, hypomania and mania.
- They should inform their physician if they have a history of bipolar disorder, cardiac disease or myocardial infarction.
- Serotonin syndrome could occur and symptoms may include changes in mental status (e.g., agitation, hallucinations, and coma), autonomic instability (e.g., tachycardia, labile blood pressure, and hyperthermia), neuromuscular aberrations (e.g., hyperreflexia, incoordination) and/or gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea).
- Trazodone hydrochloride has been associated with the occurrence of priapism.
- There is a potential for hypotension, including orthostatic hypotension and syncope.
- There is a potential risk of bleeding (including life-threatening hemorrhages) and bleeding related events (including ecchymosis, hematoma, epistaxis, and petechiae) with the concomitant use of trazodone hydrochloride and NSAIDs, aspirin, or other drugs that affect coagulation or bleeding.
- Withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, agitation and sleep disturbances, have been reported with trazodone. Clinical experience suggests that the dose should be gradually reduced.
Patients should be counseled that:
- Oleptro may cause somnolence or sedation and may impair the mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks. Patients should be cautioned about operating hazardous machinery, including automobiles until they are reasonably certain that the drug treatment does not affect them.
- Trazodone may enhance the response to alcohol, barbiturates, and other CNS depressants.
- Women who intend to become pregnant or who are breastfeeding should discuss with a physician whether they should continue to use Oleptro, since use in pregnant and nursing women is not recommended.
Important Administration Instructions:
- Oleptro should be swallowed whole or broken in half along the score line.
- In order to maintain its controlled-release properties, it should not be chewed or crushed.
- Oleptro should be taken at the same time every day, in the late evening preferably at bedtime, on an empty stomach.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
No drug- or dose-related occurrence of carcinogenesis was evident in rats receiving trazodone in daily oral doses up to 300 mg/kg for 18 months.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category C
Trazodone hydrochloride has been shown to cause increased fetal resorption and other adverse effects on the fetus in two studies using the rat when given at dose levels approximately 30 – 50 times the proposed maximum human dose. There was also an increase in congenital anomalies in one of three rabbit studies at approximately 15 – 50 times the maximum human dose. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Oleptro should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
Trazodone and/or its metabolites have been found in the milk of lactating rats, suggesting that the drug may be secreted in human milk. Caution should be exercised when Oleptro is administered to a nursing woman.
Safety and effectiveness in the pediatric population have not been established [see BOXED WARNING and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Oleptro should not be used in children or adolescents.
Of 202 patients treated with Oleptro in the clinical trial, there were 9 patients older than 65. No overall differences in safety or effectiveness were observed between these subjects and younger subjects, and other reported clinical literature and experience with trazodone have not identified differences in responses between elderly and younger patients. However, as experience in the elderly with Oleptro is limited, it should be used with caution in geriatric patients.
Antidepressants have been associated with cases of clinically significant hyponatremia in elderly patients who may be at greater risk for this adverse reaction [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Oleptro has not been studied in patients with renal impairment. Trazodone should be used with caution in this population.
Oleptro has not been studied in patients with hepatic impairment. Trazodone should be used with caution in this population.
Last reviewed on RxList: 11/27/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Additional Oleptro Information
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