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Mechanism of Action
Although the exact mechanism of PROZAC is unknown, it is presumed to be linked to its inhibition of CNS neuronal uptake of serotonin.
Studies at clinically relevant doses in man have demonstrated that fluoxetine blocks the uptake of serotonin into human platelets. Studies in animals also suggest that fluoxetine is a much more potent uptake inhibitor of serotonin than of norepinephrine.
Antagonism of muscarinic, histaminergic, and α1-adrenergic receptors has been hypothesized to be associated with various anticholinergic, sedative, and cardiovascular effects of classical tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) drugs. Fluoxetine binds to these and other membrane receptors from brain tissue much less potently in vitro than do the tricyclic drugs.
In man, following a single oral 40 mg dose, peak plasma concentrations of fluoxetine from 15 to 55 ng/mL are observed after 6 to 8 hours.
The Pulvule and PROZAC Weekly capsule dosage forms of fluoxetine are bioequivalent. Food does not appear to affect the systemic bioavailability of fluoxetine, although it may delay its absorption by 1 to 2 hours, which is probably not clinically significant. Thus, fluoxetine may be administered with or without food. PROZAC Weekly capsules, a delayed-release formulation, contain enteric-coated pellets that resist dissolution until reaching a segment of the gastrointestinal tract where the pH exceeds 5.5. The enteric coating delays the onset of absorption of fluoxetine 1 to 2 hours relative to the immediate-release formulations.
Over the concentration range from 200 to 1000 ng/mL, approximately 94.5% of fluoxetine is bound in vitro to human serum proteins, including albumin and α1-glycoprotein. The interaction between fluoxetine and other highly protein-bound drugs has not been fully evaluated, but may be important.
Fluoxetine is a racemic mixture (50/50) of R-fluoxetine and S-fluoxetine enantiomers. In animal models, both enantiomers are specific and potent serotonin uptake inhibitors with essentially equivalent pharmacologic activity. The S-fluoxetine enantiomer is eliminated more slowly and is the predominant enantiomer present in plasma at steady state.
Fluoxetine is extensively metabolized in the liver to norfluoxetine and a number of other unidentified metabolites. The only identified active metabolite, norfluoxetine, is formed by demethylation of fluoxetine. In animal models, S-norfluoxetine is a potent and selective inhibitor of serotonin uptake and has activity essentially equivalent to Ror S-fluoxetine. R-norfluoxetine is significantly less potent than the parent drug in the inhibition of serotonin uptake. The primary route of elimination appears to be hepatic metabolism to inactive metabolites excreted by the kidney.
Variability in Metabolism
A subset (about 7%) of the population has reduced activity of the drug metabolizing enzyme cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6). Such individuals are referred to as “poor metabolizers” of drugs such as debrisoquin, dextromethorphan, and the TCAs. In a study involving labeled and unlabeled enantiomers administered as a racemate, these individuals metabolized S-fluoxetine at a slower rate and thus achieved higher concentrations of S-fluoxetine. Consequently, concentrations of S-norfluoxetine at steady state were lower. The metabolism of R-fluoxetine in these poor metabolizers appears normal. When compared with normal metabolizers, the total sum at steady state of the plasma concentrations of the 4 active enantiomers was not significantly greater among poor metabolizers. Thus, the net pharmacodynamic activities were essentially the same. Alternative, nonsaturable pathways (non-2D6) also contribute to the metabolism of fluoxetine. This explains how fluoxetine achieves a steady-state concentration rather than increasing without limit.
Because fluoxetine's metabolism, like that of a number of other compounds including TCAs and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), involves the CYP2D6 system, concomitant therapy with drugs also metabolized by this enzyme system (such as the TCAs) may lead to drug interactions [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Accumulation and Slow Elimination
The relatively slow elimination of fluoxetine (elimination half-life of 1 to 3 days after acute administration and 4 to 6 days after chronic administration) and its active metabolite, norfluoxetine (elimination half-life of 4 to 16 days after acute and chronic administration), leads to significant accumulation of these active species in chronic use and delayed attainment of steady state, even when a fixed dose is used [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. After 30 days of dosing at 40 mg/day, plasma concentrations of fluoxetine in the range of 91 to 302 ng/mL and norfluoxetine in the range of 72 to 258 ng/mL have been observed. Plasma concentrations of fluoxetine were higher than those predicted by single-dose studies, because fluoxetine's metabolism is not proportional to dose. Norfluoxetine, however, appears to have linear pharmacokinetics. Its mean terminal half-life after a single dose was 8.6 days and after multiple dosing was 9.3 days. Steady-state levels after prolonged dosing are similar to levels seen at 4 to 5 weeks.
The long elimination half-lives of fluoxetine and norfluoxetine assure that, even when dosing is stopped, active drug substance will persist in the body for weeks (primarily depending on individual patient characteristics, previous dosing regimen, and length of previous therapy at discontinuation). This is of potential consequence when drug discontinuation is required or when drugs are prescribed that might interact with fluoxetine and norfluoxetine following the discontinuation of PROZAC.
Administration of PROZAC Weekly once weekly results in increased fluctuation between peak and trough concentrations of fluoxetine and norfluoxetine compared with once-daily dosing [for fluoxetine: 24% (daily) to 164% (weekly) and for norfluoxetine: 17% (daily) to 43% (weekly)]. Plasma concentrations may not necessarily be predictive of clinical response. Peak concentrations from once-weekly doses of PROZAC Weekly capsules of fluoxetine are in the range of the average concentration for 20 mg once-daily dosing. Average trough concentrations are 76% lower for fluoxetine and 47% lower for norfluoxetine than the concentrations maintained by 20 mg once-daily dosing. Average steady-state concentrations of either once-daily or once-weekly dosing are in relative proportion to the total dose administered. Average steady-state fluoxetine concentrations are approximately 50% lower following the once-weekly regimen compared with the once-daily regimen.
Cmax for fluoxetine following the 90 mg dose was approximately 1.7-fold higher than the Cmax value for the established 20 mg once-daily regimen following transition the next day to the once-weekly regimen. In contrast, when the first 90 mg once-weekly dose and the last 20 mg once-daily dose were separated by 1 week, Cmax values were similar. Also, there was a transient increase in the average steady-state concentrations of fluoxetine observed following transition the next day to the once-weekly regimen. From a pharmacokinetic perspective, it may be better to separate the first 90 mg weekly dose and the last 20 mg once-daily dose by 1 week [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
As might be predicted from its primary site of metabolism, liver impairment can affect the elimination of fluoxetine. The elimination half-life of fluoxetine was prolonged in a study of cirrhotic patients, with a mean of 7.6 days compared with the range of 2 to 3 days seen in subjects without liver disease; norfluoxetine elimination was also delayed, with a mean duration of 12 days for cirrhotic patients compared with the range of 7 to 9 days in normal subjects. This suggests that the use of fluoxetine in patients with liver disease must be approached with caution. If fluoxetine is administered to patients with liver disease, a lower or less frequent dose should be used [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, Use In Specific Populations].
In depressed patients on dialysis (N=12), fluoxetine administered as 20 mg once daily for 2 months produced steady-state fluoxetine and norfluoxetine plasma concentrations comparable with those seen in patients with normal renal function. While the possibility exists that renally excreted metabolites of fluoxetine may accumulate to higher levels in patients with severe renal dysfunction, use of a lower or less frequent dose is not routinely necessary in renally impaired patients.
The disposition of single doses of fluoxetine in healthy elderly subjects ( > 65 years of age) did not differ significantly from that in younger normal subjects. However, given the long half-life and nonlinear disposition of the drug, a single-dose study is not adequate to rule out the possibility of altered pharmacokinetics in the elderly, particularly if they have systemic illness or are receiving multiple drugs for concomitant diseases. The effects of age upon the metabolism of fluoxetine have been investigated in 260 elderly but otherwise healthy depressed patients ( ≥ 60 years of age) who received 20 mg fluoxetine for 6 weeks. Combined fluoxetine plus norfluoxetine plasma concentrations were 209.3 ± 85.7 ng/mL at the end of 6 weeks. No unusual age-associated pattern of adverse reactions was observed in those elderly patients.
Pediatric Pharmacokinetics (children and adolescents)
Fluoxetine pharmacokinetics were evaluated in 21 pediatric patients (10 children ages 6 to < 13, 11 adolescents ages 13 to < 18) diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Fluoxetine 20 mg/day was administered for up to 62 days. The average steady-state concentrations of fluoxetine in these children were 2-fold higher than in adolescents (171 and 86 ng/mL, respectively). The average norfluoxetine steady-state concentrations in these children were 1.5-fold higher than in adolescents (195 and 113 ng/mL, respectively). These differences can be almost entirely explained by differences in weight. No gender-associated difference in fluoxetine pharmacokinetics was observed. Similar ranges of fluoxetine and norfluoxetine plasma concentrations were observed in another study in 94 pediatric patients (ages 8 to < 18) diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.
Higher average steady-state fluoxetine and norfluoxetine concentrations were observed in children relative to adults; however, these concentrations were within the range of concentrations observed in the adult population. As in adults, fluoxetine and norfluoxetine accumulated extensively following multiple oral dosing; steady-state concentrations were achieved within 3 to 4 weeks of daily dosing.
When using PROZAC and olanzapine in combination, also refer to the Clinical Studies section of the package insert for Symbyax.
Major Depressive Disorder
Adult — The efficacy of PROZAC was studied in 5- and 6-week placebo-controlled trials with depressed adult and geriatric outpatients ( ≥ 18 years of age) whose diagnoses corresponded most closely to the DSM-III (currently DSM-IV) category of Major Depressive Disorder. PROZAC was shown to be significantly more effective than placebo as measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D). PROZAC was also significantly more effective than placebo on the HAM-D subscores for depressed mood, sleep disturbance, and the anxiety subfactor.
Two 6-week controlled studies (N=671, randomized) comparing PROZAC 20 mg and placebo have shown PROZAC 20 mg daily to be effective in the treatment of elderly patients ( ≥ 60 years of age) with Major Depressive Disorder. In these studies, PROZAC produced a significantly higher rate of response and remission as defined, respectively, by a 50% decrease in the HAM-D score and a total endpoint HAM-D score of ≤ 8. PROZAC was well tolerated and the rate of treatment discontinuations due to adverse reactions did not differ between PROZAC (12%) and placebo (9%).
A study was conducted involving depressed outpatients who had responded (modified HAMD-17 score of ≤ 7 during each of the last 3 weeks of open-label treatment and absence of Major Depressive Disorder by DSM-III-R criteria) by the end of an initial 12-week open-treatment phase on PROZAC 20 mg/day. These patients (N=298) were randomized to continuation on double-blind PROZAC 20 mg/day or placebo. At 38 weeks (50 weeks total), a statistically significantly lower relapse rate (defined as symptoms sufficient to meet a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder for 2 weeks or a modified HAMD-17 score of ≥ 14 for 3 weeks) was observed for patients taking PROZAC compared with those on placebo.
Pediatric (children and adolescents) — The efficacy of PROZAC 20 mg/day in children and adolescents (N=315 randomized; 170 children ages 8 to < 13, 145 adolescents ages 13 to ≤ 18) was studied in two 8- to 9-week placebo-controlled clinical trials in depressed outpatients whose diagnoses corresponded most closely to the DSM-III-R or DSM-IV category of Major Depressive Disorder.
In both studies independently, PROZAC produced a statistically significantly greater mean change on the Childhood Depression Rating Scale-Revised (CDRS-R) total score from baseline to endpoint than did placebo. Subgroup analyses on the CDRS-R total score did not suggest any differential responsiveness on the basis of age or gender.
Weekly dosing for Maintenance/Continuation Treatment
A longer-term study was conducted involving adult outpatients meeting DSM-IV criteria for Major Depressive Disorder who had responded (defined as having a modified HAMD-17 score of ≤ 9, a CGI-Severity rating of ≤ 2, and no longer meeting criteria for Major Depressive Disorder) for 3 consecutive weeks at the end of 13 weeks of open-label treatment with PROZAC 20 mg once daily. These patients were randomized to double-blind, once-weekly continuation treatment with PROZAC Weekly, PROZAC 20 mg once daily, or placebo. PROZAC Weekly once weekly and PROZAC 20 mg once daily demonstrated superior efficacy (having a significantly longer time to relapse of depressive symptoms) compared with placebo for a period of 25 weeks. However, the equivalence of these 2 treatments during continuation therapy has not been established.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Adult — The effectiveness of PROZAC for the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was demonstrated in two 13-week, multicenter, parallel group studies (Studies 1 and 2) of adult outpatients who received fixed PROZAC doses of 20, 40, or 60 mg/day (on a once-a-day schedule, in the morning) or placebo. Patients in both studies had moderate to severe OCD (DSM-III-R), with mean baseline ratings on the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS, total score) ranging from 22 to 26. In Study 1, patients receiving PROZAC experienced mean reductions of approximately 4 to 6 units on the YBOCS total score, compared with a 1-unit reduction for placebo patients. In Study 2, patients receiving PROZAC experienced mean reductions of approximately 4 to 9 units on the YBOCS total score, compared with a 1-unit reduction for placebo patients. While there was no indication of a dose-response relationship for effectiveness in Study 1, a dose-response relationship was observed in Study 2, with numerically better responses in the 2 higher dose groups. The following table provides the outcome classification by treatment group on the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) improvement scale for Studies 1 and 2 combined:
Table 6: Outcome Classification (%) on CGI Improvement
Scale for Completers in Pool of Two OCD Studies
|Placebo||20 mg||40 mg||60 mg|
|Very much improved||3%||8%||12%||19%|
Exploratory analyses for age and gender effects on outcome did not suggest any differential responsiveness on the basis of age or sex.
Pediatric (children and adolescents) — In one 13-week clinical trial in pediatric patients (N=103 randomized; 75 children ages 7 to < 13, 28 adolescents ages 13 to < 18) with OCD (DSM-IV), patients received PROZAC 10 mg/day for 2 weeks, followed by 20 mg/day for 2 weeks. The dose was then adjusted in the range of 20 to 60 mg/day on the basis of clinical response and tolerability. PROZAC produced a statistically significantly greater mean change from baseline to endpoint than did placebo as measured by the Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (CY-BOCS). Subgroup analyses on outcome did not suggest any differential responsiveness on the basis of age or gender.
The effectiveness of PROZAC for the treatment of bulimia was demonstrated in two 8-week and one 16-week, multicenter, parallel group studies of adult outpatients meeting DSM-III-R criteria for bulimia. Patients in the 8-week studies received either 20 or 60 mg/day of PROZAC or placebo in the morning. Patients in the 16-week study received a fixed PROZAC dose of 60 mg/day (once a day) or placebo. Patients in these 3 studies had moderate to severe bulimia with median binge-eating and vomiting frequencies ranging from 7 to 10 per week and 5 to 9 per week, respectively. In these 3 studies, PROZAC 60 mg, but not 20 mg, was statistically significantly superior to placebo in reducing the number of binge-eating and vomiting episodes per week. The statistically significantly superior effect of 60 mg versus placebo was present as early as Week 1 and persisted throughout each study. The PROZAC-related reduction in bulimic episodes appeared to be independent of baseline depression as assessed by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. In each of these 3 studies, the treatment effect, as measured by differences between PROZAC 60 mg and placebo on median reduction from baseline in frequency of bulimic behaviors at endpoint, ranged from 1 to 2 episodes per week for binge-eating and 2 to 4 episodes per week for vomiting. The size of the effect was related to baseline frequency, with greater reductions seen in patients with higher baseline frequencies. Although some patients achieved freedom from binge-eating and purging as a result of treatment, for the majority, the benefit was a partial reduction in the frequency of binge-eating and purging.
In a longer-term trial, 150 patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for Bulimia Nervosa, purging subtype, who had responded during a single-blind, 8-week acute treatment phase with PROZAC 60 mg/day, were randomized to continuation of PROZAC 60 mg/day or placebo, for up to 52 weeks of observation for relapse. Response during the single-blind phase was defined by having achieved at least a 50% decrease in vomiting frequency compared with baseline. Relapse during the double-blind phase was defined as a persistent return to baseline vomiting frequency or physician judgment that the patient had relapsed. Patients receiving continued PROZAC 60 mg/day experienced a significantly longer time to relapse over the subsequent 52 weeks compared with those receiving placebo.
The effectiveness of PROZAC in the treatment of Panic Disorder was demonstrated in 2 double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter studies of adult outpatients who had a primary diagnosis of Panic Disorder (DSM-IV), with or without agoraphobia.
Study 1 (N=180 randomized) was a 12-week flexible-dose study. PROZAC was initiated at 10 mg/day for the first week, after which patients were dosed in the range of 20 to 60 mg/day on the basis of clinical response and tolerability. A statistically significantly greater percentage of PROZAC-treated patients were free from panic attacks at endpoint than placebo-treated patients, 42% versus 28%, respectively.
Study 2 (N=214 randomized) was a 12-week flexible-dose study. PROZAC was initiated at 10 mg/day for the first week, after which patients were dosed in a range of 20 to 60 mg/day on the basis of clinical response and tolerability. A statistically significantly greater percentage of PROZAC-treated patients were free from panic attacks at endpoint than placebo-treated patients, 62% versus 44%, respectively.
Last reviewed on RxList: 1/30/2013
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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