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Sarafem

Sarafem

WARNINGS

Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.

PRECAUTIONS

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 to 24) with Major Depressive Disorder (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 4400 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 versus 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 1000 patients treated) are provided in Table 1.

Table 1: Suicidality per 1000 Patients Treated

Age Range Drug-Placebo Difference in Number of Cases of Suicidality per 1000 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, that is, 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.

If the decision has been made to discontinue treatment, medication should be tapered, as rapidly as is feasible, but with recognition that abrupt discontinuation can be associated with certain 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 SARAFEM should be written for the smallest quantity of tablets consistent with good patient management, in order to reduce the risk of overdose.

It should be noted that SARAFEM is not approved for treating any indication in the pediatric population.

Serotonin Syndrome

The development of a potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome has been reported with SNRIs and SSRIs, including SARAFEM, 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 (for example, agitation, hallucinations, delirium, and coma), autonomic instability (for example, tachycardia, labile blood pressure, dizziness, diaphoresis, flushing, hyperthermia), neuromuscular symptoms (for example, tremor, rigidity, myoclonus, hyperreflexia, incoordination), seizures, and/or gastrointestinal symptoms (for example, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea). Patients should be monitored for the emergence of serotonin syndrome.

The concomitant use of SARAFEM with MAOIs intended to treat psychiatric disorders is contraindicated. SARAFEM 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 1mg/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 SARAFEM. SARAFEM should be discontinued before initiating treatment with the MAOI [see CONTRAINDICATIONS and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

If concomitant use of SARAFEM with other serotonergic drugs, that is, 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 SARAFEM and any concomitant serotonergic agents, should be discontinued immediately if the above events occur and supportive symptomatic treatment should be initiated.

Allergic Reactions and Rash

In 4 clinical trials for PMDD, 4% of 415 patients treated with SARAFEM reported rash and/or urticaria. None of these cases were classified as serious and 2 of 415 patients (both receiving 60 mg) were withdrawn from treatment because of rash and/or urticaria.

In US fluoxetine clinical trials for conditions other than PMDD, 7% of 10,782 patients developed various types of rashes and/or urticaria. Among the cases of rash and/or urticaria reported in premarketing clinical trials, almost a third were withdrawn from treatment because of the rash and/or systemic signs or symptoms associated with the rash. Clinical findings reported in association with rash include fever, leukocytosis, arthralgias, edema, carpal tunnel syndrome, respiratory distress, lymphadenopathy, proteinuria, and mild transaminase elevation. Most patients improved promptly with discontinuation of fluoxetine and/or adjunctive treatment with antihistamines or steroids, and all patients experiencing these reactions were reported to recover completely.

In premarketing clinical trials for conditions other than PMDD, 2 patients are known to have developed a serious cutaneous systemic illness. In neither patient was there an unequivocal diagnosis, but one was considered to have a leukocytoclastic vasculitis, and the other, a severe desquamating syndrome that was considered variously to be a vasculitis or erythema multiforme. Other patients have had systemic syndromes suggestive of serum sickness.

Since the introduction of fluoxetine, systemic reactions, possibly related to vasculitis and including lupus-like syndrome, have developed in patients with rash. Although these reactions are rare, they may be serious, involving the lung, kidney, or liver. Death has been reported to occur in association with these systemic reactions.

Anaphylactoid reactions, including bronchospasm, angioedema, laryngospasm, and urticaria alone and in combination, have been reported.

Pulmonary reactions, including inflammatory processes of varying histopathology and/or fibrosis, have been reported rarely. These reactions have occurred with dyspnea as the only preceding symptom.

Whether these systemic reactions and rash have a common underlying cause or are due to different etiologies or pathogenic processes is not known. Furthermore, a specific underlying immunologic basis for these reactions has not been identified. Upon the appearance of rash or of other possibly allergic phenomena for which an alternative etiology cannot be identified, SARAFEM should be discontinued.

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 SARAFEM is not indicated for the treatment of depressive episodes associated with Bipolar I Disorder.

No patients treated with SARAFEM in 4 PMDD clinical trials (N = 415) reported mania/hypomania. In all US fluoxetine clinical trials for conditions other than PMDD, 0.7% of 10,782 patients reported mania/hypomania. Activation of mania/hypomania may occur with medications used to treat depression, especially in patients predisposed to Bipolar I Disorder.

Seizures

No patients treated with SARAFEM in 4 PMDD clinical trials (N = 415) reported seizures. In all US fluoxetine clinical trials for conditions other than PMDD, 0.2% of 10,782 patients reported convulsions. SARAFEM should be introduced with care in patients with a history of seizures.

Altered Appetite and Weight

In 2 placebo-controlled clinical trials for PMDD, patients treated with SARAFEM reported changes in appetite and weight [see Table 2]. For individual rates for SARAFEM 20 mg given as continuous and intermittent dosing, see Table 4 and accompanying footnote [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Table 2: Altered Appetite and Weight Treatment Emergent Adverse Reactions: Incidence in PMDD Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials

Treatment Emergent Adverse Reaction Percentage of Patients Reporting Adverse Reaction
20 mg (continuous and intermittent pooled) 60 mg (continuous) Placebo (pooled)
Anorexia (decreased appetite) 4% 13% 2%
Weight Loss ( ≥ 7%) 7% 12% 3%
Weight Gain ( ≥ 7%) 8% 6% 1%

In US placebo-controlled clinical trials of fluoxetine for other approved indications, changes in appetite and weight have also been reported [see ADVERSE REACTIONS Table 5].

Abnormal Bleeding

SNRIs and SSRIs, including fluoxetine, may increase the risk of bleeding reactions. Concomitant use of aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, warfarin, and other anti-coagulants may add to this risk. Case reports and epidemiological studies (case-control and cohort design) have demonstrated an association between use of drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake and the occurrence of gastrointestinal bleeding. Bleeding reactions related to SNRIs and SSRIs use have ranged from ecchymoses, hematomas, epistaxis, and petechiae to life-threatening hemorrhages.

Patients should be cautioned about the risk of bleeding associated with the concomitant use of fluoxetine and NSAIDs, aspirin, warfarin, or other drugs that affect coagulation [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Hyponatremia

Hyponatremia has been reported during treatment with SNRIs and SSRIs, including fluoxetine. 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 and appeared to be reversible when fluoxetine was discontinued. Elderly patients may be at greater risk of developing hyponatremia with SNRIs and SSRIs. Also, patients taking diuretics or who are otherwise volume depleted may be at greater risk [see Use In Specific Populations]. Discontinuation of SARAFEM 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 may lead to falls. More severe and/or acute cases have been associated with hallucination, syncope, seizure, coma, respiratory arrest, and death.

Anxiety and Insomnia

In 2 placebo-controlled clinical trials for PMDD, patients treated with SARAFEM reported anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia [see Table 3].

For individual rates of anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia with SARAFEM 20 mg given as continuous or intermittent dosing, see Table 5 and accompanying footnote [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Table 3: Anxiety and Insomnia Treatment Emergent Adverse Reactions: Incidence in PMDD Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials

Treatment Emergent Adverse Reaction Percentage of Patients Reporting Adverse Reaction
20 mg (continuous and intermittent pooled) 60 mg (continuous) Placebo (pooled)
Anxiety 3% 9% 4%
Nervousness 5% 9% 3%
Insomnia 9% 26% 7%

Anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia were associated with discontinuation for SARAFEM [see Table 4].

Table 4: Anxiety, Nervousness, and Insomnia: Treatment Discontinuation Rates in PMDD Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials

Treatment Emergent Adverse Reaction Percentage of Patient Discontinuation due to Adverse Reaction
20 mg (continuous and intermittent pooled) 60 mg (continuous) Placebo (pooled)
Anxiety 0% 6% 1%
Nervousness 1% 0% 0.50%
Insomnia 1% 4% 0.50%

In US placebo-controlled clinical trials of fluoxetine for other approved indications, anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia have been among the most commonly reported adverse reactions [see Table 6 and ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Use in Patients with Concomitant Illness

Clinical experience with fluoxetine in patients with concomitant systemic illness is limited. Caution is advisable in using fluoxetine in patients with diseases or conditions that could affect metabolism or hemodynamic responses.

Cardiovascular

Fluoxetine has not been evaluated or used to any appreciable extent in patients with a recent history of myocardial infarction or unstable heart disease. Patients with these diagnoses were systematically excluded from clinical studies during the product's premarket testing. However, the electrocardiograms of 312 patients who received fluoxetine in double-blind trials, for a condition other than PMDD, were retrospectively evaluated; no conduction abnormalities that resulted in heart block were observed. The mean heart rate was reduced by approximately 3 beats/min.

Glycemic Control

In patients with diabetes, fluoxetine may alter glycemic control. Hypoglycemia has occurred during therapy with fluoxetine, and hyperglycemia has developed following discontinuation of the drug. As is true with many other types of medication when taken concurrently by patients with diabetes, insulin and/or oral hypoglycemic, dosage may need to be adjusted when therapy with fluoxetine is instituted or discontinued.

Acute Narrow-Angle Glaucoma

Mydriasis has been reported in association with fluoxetine; therefore, caution should be used when prescribing SARAFEM, in patients with raised intraocular pressure or those at risk of acute narrow-angle glaucoma.

Potential for Cognitive and Motor Impairment

SARAFEM has the potential to impair judgment, thinking, or motor skills. Patients should be cautioned about operating hazardous machinery, including automobiles, until they are reasonably certain that the drug treatment does not affect them adversely.

Long Elimination Half-Life

Because of the long elimination half-lives of the parent drug and its major active metabolite, changes in dose will not be fully reflected in plasma for several weeks, affecting both strategies for titration to final dose and withdrawal from treatment. 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 fluoxetine [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY and DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Discontinuation of Treatment

During marketing of SARAFEM, SNRIs, and SSRIs, there have been spontaneous reports of adverse reactions occurring upon discontinuation of these drugs, particularly when abrupt, including the following: dysphoric mood, irritability, agitation, dizziness, sensory disturbances (for example, paresthesias such as electric shock sensations), anxiety, confusion, headache, lethargy, emotional lability, insomnia, and hypomania. While these reactions are generally self-limiting, there have been reports of serious discontinuation symptoms.

Patients should be monitored for these symptoms when discontinuing treatment with SARAFEM. A gradual reduction in the dose rather than abrupt cessation is recommended whenever possible. If intolerable symptoms occur following a decrease in the dose or upon discontinuation of treatment, then resuming the previously prescribed dose may be considered. Subsequently, the dose may continue to be decreased but at a more gradual rate. Plasma fluoxetine and norfluoxetine concentration decrease gradually at the conclusion of therapy which may minimize the risk of discontinuation symptoms with this drug.

Patient Counseling Information

See the FDA-approved Medication Guide.

General Information

Healthcare providers should instruct their patients to read the Medication Guide before starting therapy with SARAFEM and to reread it each time the prescription is renewed.

Healthcare providers should inform patients, their families, and their caregivers about the benefits and risks associated with treatment with SARAFEM and should counsel them in its appropriate use. Healthcare providers should instruct patients, their families, and their caregivers to read the Medication Guide and should assist them in understanding its contents. Patients should be given the opportunity to discuss the contents of the Medication Guide and to obtain answers to any questions they may have.

Patients should be advised of the following issues and asked to alert their healthcare provider if these occur while taking SARAFEM.

Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk

Patients, their families, and their caregivers should be encouraged to be alert to the emergence of anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, mania, other unusual changes in behavior, worsening of depression, and suicidal ideation, especially early during antidepressant treatment and when the dose is adjusted up or down. Families and caregivers of patients should be advised to look for the emergence of such symptoms on a day-to-day basis, since changes may be abrupt. Such symptoms should be reported to the patient's prescriber or health professional, especially if they are severe, abrupt in onset, or were not part of the patient's presenting symptoms. Symptoms such as these may be associated with an increased risk for suicidal thinking and behavior and indicate a need for very close monitoring and possibly changes in the medication [see BOXED WARNING and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Serotonin Syndrome

Patients should be cautioned about the risk of serotonin syndrome with the concomitant use of SARAFEM and other serotonergic agents including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, buspirone, tryptophan, and St. John's Wort [see CONTRAINDICATIONS, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, and DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Patients should be advised of the signs and symptoms associated with serotonin syndrome that may include mental status changes (for example, agitation, hallucinations, delirium, and coma), autonomic instability (for example, tachycardia, labile blood pressure, dizziness, diaphoresis, flushing, hyperthermia), neuromuscular changes (for example, tremor, rigidity, myoclonus, hyperreflexia, incoordination), seizures, and/or gastrointestinal symptoms (for example, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea). Patients should be cautioned to seek medical care immediately if they experience these symptoms.

Allergic Reactions and Rash

Patients should be advised to notify their physician if they develop a rash or hives [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Patients should also be advised of the signs and symptoms associated with a severe allergic reaction, including swelling of the face, eyes, or mouth, or trouble breathing. Patients should be cautioned to seek medical care immediately if they experience these symptoms.

Abnormal Bleeding

Patients should be cautioned about the concomitant use of fluoxetine and NSAIDs, aspirin, warfarin, or other drugs that affect coagulation since combined use of psychotropic drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake and these agents have been associated with an increased risk of bleeding [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and DRUG INTERACTIONS]. Patients should be advised to call their doctor if they experience any increased or unusual bruising or bleeding while taking SARAFEM.

Hyponatremia

Patients should be advised that hyponatremia has been reported as a result of treatment with SNRIs and SSRIs, including SARAFEM. Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia include headache, difficulty concentrating, memory impairment, confusion, weakness, and unsteadiness, which may lead to falls. More severe and/or acute cases have been associated with hallucination, syncope, seizure, coma, respiratory arrest, and death [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Potential for Cognitive and Motor Impairment

SARAFEM may impair judgment, thinking, or motor skills. Patients should be advised to avoid driving a car or operating hazardous machinery until they are reasonably certain that their performance is not affected [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Use of Concomitant Medications

Patients should be advised to inform their physician if they are taking, or plan to take, any prescription medication, including Symbyax, Prozac, Prozac Weekly, or over-the-counter drugs, including herbal supplements or alcohol. Patients should also be advised to inform their physicians if they plan to discontinue any medications they are taking while on SARAFEM.

Discontinuation of Treatment

Patients should be advised to take SARAFEM exactly as prescribed, and to continue taking SARAFEM as prescribed even after their symptoms improve. Patients should be advised that they should not alter their dosing regimen, or stop taking SARAFEM without consulting their physician [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Patients should be advised to consult with their healthcare provider if their symptoms do not improve with SARAFEM.

Use In Specific Populations

Pregnancy

Patients should be advised to notify their physician if they become pregnant or intend to become pregnant during therapy. Fluoxetine should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus [see Use In Specific Populations].

Nursing Mothers

Patients should be advised to notify their physician if they intend to breastfeed an infant during therapy. Because fluoxetine is excreted in human milk, nursing while taking SARAFEM is not recommended [see Use in Specific Populations].

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Carcinogenicity

The dietary administration of fluoxetine to rats and mice for 2 years at doses of up to 10 and 12 mg/kg/day, respectively [approximately 1.2 and 0.7 times, respectively, the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 80 mg on a mg/m² basis], produced no evidence of carcinogenicity.

Mutagenicity

Fluoxetine and norfluoxetine have been shown to have no genotoxic effects based on the following assays: bacterial mutation assay, DNA repair assay in cultured rat hepatocytes, mouse lymphoma assay, and in vivo sister chromatid exchange assay in Chinese hamster bone marrow cells.

Impairment of Fertility

Two fertility studies conducted in adult rats at doses of up to 7.5 and 12.5 mg/kg/day (approximately 0.9 and 1.5 times the MRHD on a mg/m² basis) indicated that fluoxetine had no adverse effects on fertility. However, adverse effects on fertility were seen when juvenile rats were treated with fluoxetine [see Use In Specific Populations].

Use In Specific Populations

Pregnancy

Pregnancy Category C

It should be noted that the diagnosis of PMDD does exist during pregnancy. Fluoxetine should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defects, loss, or other adverse outcome regardless of drug exposure. .

Treatment of Pregnant Women during the First Trimester

There are no adequate and well-controlled clinical studies on the use of fluoxetine in pregnant women. Results of a number of published epidemiological studies assessing the risk of fluoxetine exposure during the first trimester of pregnancy have demonstrated inconsistent results. More than 10 cohort studies and case-control studies failed to demonstrate an increased risk for congenital malformations overall. However, one prospective cohort study conducted by the European Network of Teratology Information Services reported an increased risk of cardiovascular malformations in infants born to women (N = 253) exposed to fluoxetine during the first trimester of pregnancy compared to infants of women (N = 1359) who were not exposed to fluoxetine. There was no specific pattern of cardiovascular malformations. Overall, however, a causal relationship has not been established.

Nonteratogenic Effects

Neonates exposed to fluoxetine and other SSRIs or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), late in the third trimester have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support, and tube feeding. Such complications can arise immediately upon delivery. Reported clinical findings have included respiratory distress, cyanosis, apnea, seizures, temperature instability, feeding difficulty, vomiting, hypoglycemia, hypotonia, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, tremor, jitteriness, irritability, and constant crying. These features are consistent with either a direct toxic effect of SSRIs and SNRIs or, possibly, a drug discontinuation syndrome. It should be noted that, in some cases, the clinical picture is consistent with serotonin syndrome [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Infants exposed to SSRIs in pregnancy may have an increased risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). PPHN occurs in 1 to 2 per 1,000 live births in the general population and is associated with substantial neonatal morbidity and mortality. Several recent epidemiological studies suggest a positive statistical association between SSRI use (including fluoxetine) in pregnancy and PPHN. Other studies do not show a significant statistical association.

Physicians should also note the results of a prospective longitudinal study of 201 pregnant women with a history of major depression, who were either on antidepressants or had received antidepressants less than 12 weeks prior to their last menstrual period, and were in remission. Women who discontinued antidepressant medication during pregnancy showed a significant increase in relapse of their major depression compared to those women who remained on antidepressant medication throughout pregnancy.

When treating a pregnant woman with fluoxetine, the physician should carefully consider both the potential risks of taking an SSRI, along with the established benefits of treating depression with an antidepressant. The decision can only be made on a case by case basis.

Animal Data

In embryo-fetal development studies in rats and rabbits, there was no evidence of teratogenicity following administration of fluoxetine at doses up to 12.5 and 15 mg/kg/day, respectively (1.5 and 3.6 times, respectively, the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 80 mg on a mg/m² basis) throughout organogenesis. However, in rat reproduction studies, an increase in stillborn pups, a decrease in pup weight, and an increase in pup deaths during the first 7 days postpartum occurred following maternal exposure to 12 mg/kg/day (1.5 times the MRHD on a mg/m² basis) during gestation or 7.5 mg/kg/day (0.9 times the MRHD on a mg/m² basis) during gestation and lactation. There was no evidence of developmental neurotoxicity in the surviving offspring of rats treated with 12 mg/kg/day during gestation. The no-effect dose for rat pup mortality was 5 mg/kg/day (0.6 times the MRHD on a mg/m² basis).

Labor and Delivery

The effect of fluoxetine on labor and delivery in humans is unknown. However, because fluoxetine crosses the placenta and because of the possibility that fluoxetine may have adverse effects on the newborn, fluoxetine should be used during labor and delivery only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Nursing Mothers

Because fluoxetine is excreted in human milk, nursing while on SARAFEM is not recommended. In one breast-milk sample, the concentration of fluoxetine plus norfluoxetine was 70.4 ng/mL. The concentration in the mother's plasma was 295.0 ng/mL. No adverse effects on the infant were reported. In another case, an infant nursed by a mother on fluoxetine developed crying, sleep disturbance, vomiting, and watery stools. The infant's plasma drug levels were 340 ng/mL of fluoxetine and 208 ng/mL of norfluoxetine on the second day of feeding.

Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness of SARAFEM in the pediatric population have not been established [see BOXED WARNING and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. When considering the use of SARAFEM in a child or adolescent, the potential risks must be balanced with the clinical need. Significant toxicity, including myotoxicity, long-term neurobehavioral and reproductive toxicity, and impaired bone development, has been observed following exposure of juvenile animals to fluoxetine. Some of these effects occurred at clinically relevant exposures.

As with other SSRIs, decreased weight gain has been observed in association with the use of fluoxetine in children and adolescent patients. After 19 weeks of treatment in a clinical trial, pediatric subjects treated with fluoxetine gained an average of 1.1 cm less in height and 1.1 kg less in weight than subjects treated with placebo. In addition, fluoxetine treatment was associated with a decrease in alkaline phosphatase levels. The safety of fluoxetine treatment for pediatric patients has not been systematically assessed for chronic treatment longer than several months in duration. In particular, there are no studies that directly evaluate the longer-term effects of fluoxetine on the growth, development and maturation of children and adolescent patients. Therefore, height and weight should be monitored periodically in pediatric patients receiving fluoxetine [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

In a study in which fluoxetine (3, 10, or 30 mg/kg) was orally administered to young rats from weaning (Postnatal Day 21) through adulthood (Day 90), male and female sexual development was delayed at all doses, and growth (body weight gain, femur length) was decreased during the dosing period in animals receiving the highest dose. At the end of the treatment period, serum levels of creatine kinase (marker of muscle damage) were increased at the intermediate and high doses, and abnormal muscle and reproductive organ histopathology (skeletal muscle degeneration and necrosis, testicular degeneration and necrosis, epididymal vacuolation and hypospermia) was observed at the high dose. When animals were evaluated after a recovery period (up to 11 weeks after cessation of dosing), neurobehavioral abnormalities (decreased reactivity at all doses and learning deficit at the high dose) and reproductive functional impairment (decreased mating at all doses and impaired fertility at the high dose) were seen; in addition, testicular and epididymal microscopic lesions and decreased sperm concentrations were found in the high dose group, indicating that the reproductive organ effects seen at the end of treatment were irreversible. The reversibility of fluoxetine-induced muscle damage was not assessed. Adverse effects similar to those observed in rats treated with fluoxetine during the juvenile period have not been reported after administration of fluoxetine to adult animals. Plasma exposures (AUC) to fluoxetine in juvenile rats receiving the low, intermediate, and high dose in this study were approximately 0.1 to 0.2, 1 to 2, and 5 to 10 times, respectively, the average exposure in pediatric patients receiving the maximum recommended dose (MRD) of 20 mg/day. Rat exposures to the major metabolite, norfluoxetine, were approximately 0.3 to 0.8, 1 to 8, and 3 to 20 times, respectively, pediatric exposure at the MRD.

A specific effect of fluoxetine on bone development has been reported in mice treated with fluoxetine during the juvenile period. When mice were treated with fluoxetine (5 or 20 mg/kg, intraperitoneal) for 4 weeks starting at 4 weeks of age, bone formation was reduced resulting in decreased bone mineral content and density. These doses did not affect overall growth (body weight gain or femoral length). The doses administered to juvenile mice in this study are approximately 0.5 and 2 times the MRD for pediatric patients on a body surface area (mg/m²) basis.

In another mouse study, administration of fluoxetine (10 mg/kg intraperitoneal) during early postnatal development (Postnatal Days 4 to 21) produced abnormal emotional behaviors (decreased exploratory behavior in elevated plus-maze, increase shock avoidance latency) in adulthood (12 weeks of age). The dose used in this study is approximately equal to the pediatric MRD on a mg/m² basis. Because of the early dosing period in this study, the significance of these findings to the approved pediatric use in humans is uncertain.

Geriatric Use

The diagnosis of PMDD is not applicable to postmenopausal women.

Hepatic Impairment

In subjects with cirrhosis of the liver, the clearances of fluoxetine and its active metabolite, norfluoxetine, were decreased, thus increasing the elimination half-lives of these substances. A lower or less frequent dose of fluoxetine should be used in patients with cirrhosis. Caution is advised when using SARAFEM in patients with diseases or conditions that could affect its metabolism [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Last reviewed on RxList: 7/22/2013
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

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