"Dec. 2, 2010 -- Babies born to women who take the antiseizure drug carbamazepine have a more than twofold increased risk for the birth defect spina bifida, a study shows.
But researchers say the drug still has less risk of birth defects"...
Serious Dermatologic Reactions
Serious and sometimes fatal dermatologic reactions, including toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) and Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), have been reported with Tegretol treatment. The risk of these events is estimated to be about 1 to 6 per 10,000 new users in countries with mainly Caucasian populations. However, the risk in some Asian countries is estimated to be about 10 times higher. Tegretol should be discontinued at the first sign of a rash, unless the rash is clearly not drug-related. If signs or symptoms suggest SJS/TEN, use of this drug should not be resumed and alternative therapy should be considered.
SJS/TEN and HLA-B*1502 Allele
Retrospective case-control studies have found that in patients of Chinese ancestry there is a strong association between the risk of developing SJS/TEN with carbamazepine treatment and the presence of an inherited variant of the HLA-B gene, HLA-B*1502. The occurrence of higher rates of these reactions in countries with higher frequencies of this allele suggests that the risk may be increased in allele-positive individuals of any ethnicity.
Across Asian populations, notable variation exists in the prevalence of HLA-B*1502. Greater than 15% of the population is reported positive in Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, and parts of the Philippines, compared to about 10% in Taiwan and 4% in North China. South Asians, including Indians, appear to have intermediate prevalence of HLA-B*1502, averaging 2 to 4%, but higher in some groups. HLA-B*1502 is present in < 1% of the population in Japan and Korea.
HLA-B*1502 is largely absent in individuals not of Asian origin (e.g., Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans).
Prior to initiating Tegretol therapy, testing for HLA-B*1502 should be performed in patients with ancestry in populations in which HLA-B*1502 may be present. In deciding which patients to screen, the rates provided above for the prevalence of HLA-B*1502 may offer a rough guide, keeping in mind the limitations of these figures due to wide variability in rates even within ethnic groups, the difficulty in ascertaining ethnic ancestry, and the likelihood of mixed ancestry. Tegretol should not be used in patients positive for HLA-B*1502 unless the benefits clearly outweigh the risks. Tested patients who are found to be negative for the allele are thought to have a low risk of SJS/TEN (see Laboratory Tests).
Over 90% of Tegretol treated patients who will experience SJS/TEN have this reaction within the first few months of treatment. This information may be taken into consideration in determining the need for screening of genetically at-risk patients currently on Tegretol.
The HLA-B*1502 allele has not been found to predict risk of less severe adverse cutaneous reactions from Tegretol such as maculopapular eruption (MPE) or to predict Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS).
Limited evidence suggests that HLA-B*1502 may be a risk factor for the development of SJS/TEN in patients of Chinese ancestry taking other antiepileptic drugs associated with SJS/TEN, including phenytoin. Consideration should be given to avoiding use of other drugs associated with SJS/TEN in HLA-B*1502 positive patients, when alternative therapies are otherwise equally acceptable.
Hypersensitivity Reactions And HLA-A*3101 Allele
Retrospective case-control studies in patients of European, Korean, and Japanese ancestry have found a moderate association between the risk of developing hypersensitivity reactions and the presence of HLAA*3101, an inherited allelic variant of the HLA-A gene, in patients using carbamazepine. These hypersensitivity reactions include SJS/TEN, maculopapular eruptions, and Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (see DRESS/Multiorgan hypersensitivity below).
HLA-A*3101 is expected to be carried by more than 15% of patients of Japanese, Native American, Southern Indian (for example, Tamil Nadu) and some Arabic ancestry; up to about 10% in patients of Han Chinese, Korean, European, Latin American, and other Indian ancestry; and up to about 5% in African-Americans and patients of Thai, Taiwanese, and Chinese (Hong Kong) ancestry.
The risks and benefits of Tegretol therapy should be weighed before considering Tegretol in patients known to be positive for HLA-A*3101.
Application of HLA genotyping as a screening tool has important limitations and must never substitute for appropriate clinical vigilance and patient management. Many HLA-B*1502-positive and HLA-A*3101-positive patients treated with Tegretol will not develop SJS/TEN or other hypersensitivity reactions, and these reactions can still occur infrequently in HLA-B*1502-negative and HLA-A*3101-negative patients of any ethnicity. The role of other possible factors in the development of, and morbidity from, SJS/TEN and other hypersensitivity reactions, such as antiepileptic drug (AED) dose, compliance, concomitant medications, comorbidities, and the level of dermatologic monitoring, have not been studied.
Aplastic Anemia And Agranulocytosis
Aplastic anemia and agranulocytosis have been reported in association with the use of TEGRETOL (see BOXED WARNING). Patients with a history of adverse hematologic reaction to any drug may be particularly at risk of bone marrow depression.
Drug Reaction With Eosinophilia And Systemic Symptoms (DRESS)/Multiorgan Hypersensitivity
Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS), also known as Multiorgan hypersensitivity, has occurred with Tegretol. Some of these events have been fatal or life-threatening. DRESS typically, although not exclusively, presents with fever, rash, and/or lymphadenopathy, in association with other organ system involvement, such as hepatitis, nephritis, hematologic abnormalities, myocarditis, or myositis sometimes resembling an acute viral infection. Eosinophilia is often present. This disorder is variable in its expression, and other organ systems not noted here may be involved. It is important to note that early manifestations of hypersensitivity (e.g., fever, lymphadenopathy) may be present even though rash is not evident. If such signs or symptoms are present, the patient should be evaluated immediately. Tegretol should be discontinued if an alternative etiology for the signs or symptoms cannot be established.
Hypersensitivity reactions to carbamazepine have been reported in patients who previously experienced this reaction to anticonvulsants including phenytoin, primidone, and phenobarbital. If such history is present, benefits and risks should be carefully considered, and, if carbamazepine is initiated, the signs and symptoms of hypersensitivity should be carefully monitored.
In patients who have exhibited hypersensitivity reactions to carbamazepine, approximately 25 to 30% may experience hypersensitivity reactions with oxcarbazepine (Trileptal®).
Suicidal Behavior And Ideation
Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), including Tegretol, increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in patients taking these drugs for any indication. Patients treated with any AED for any indication should be monitored for the emergence or worsening of depression, suicidal thoughts or behavior, and/or any unusual changes in mood or behavior.
Pooled analyses of 199 placebo-controlled clinical trials (mono- and adjunctive therapy) of 11 different AEDs showed that patients randomized to one of the AEDs had approximately twice the risk (adjusted Relative Risk 1.8, 95% CI:1.2, 2.7) of suicidal thinking or behavior compared to patients randomized to placebo. In these trials, which had a median treatment duration of 12 weeks, the estimated incidence rate of suicidal behavior or ideation among 27,863 AED-treated patients was 0.43%, compared to 0.24% among 16,029 placebo-treated patients, representing an increase of approximately one case of suicidal thinking or behavior for every 530 patients treated. There were four suicides in drug-treated patients in the trials and none in placebo-treated patients, but the number is too small to allow any conclusion about drug effect on suicide.
The increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior with AEDs was observed as early as one week after starting drug treatment with AEDs and persisted for the duration of treatment assessed. Because most trials included in the analysis did not extend beyond 24 weeks, the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior beyond 24 weeks could not be assessed.
The risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior was generally consistent among drugs in the data analyzed. The finding of increased risk with AEDs of varying mechanisms of action and across a range of indications suggests that the risk applies to all AEDs used for any indication. The risk did not vary substantially by age (5-100 years) in the clinical trials analyzed. Table 1 shows absolute and relative risk by indication for all evaluated AEDs.
Table 1 : Risk by Indication for Antiepileptic Drugs
in the Pooled Analysis
|Indication||Placebo Patients with Events Per 1,000 Patients||Drug Patients with Events Per 1,000 Patients||Relative Risk: Incidence of Events in Drug Patients/Incidence in Placebo Patients||Risk Difference: Additional Drug Patients with Events Per 1,000 Patients|
The relative risk for suicidal thoughts or behavior was higher in clinical trials for epilepsy than in clinical trials for psychiatric or other conditions, but the absolute risk differences were similar for the epilepsy and psychiatric indications.
Anyone considering prescribing Tegretol or any other AED must balance the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior with the risk of untreated illness. Epilepsy and many other illnesses for which AEDs are prescribed are themselves associated with morbidity and mortality and an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Should suicidal thoughts and behavior emerge during treatment, the prescriber needs to consider whether the emergence of these symptoms in any given patient may be related to the illness being treated.
Patients, their caregivers, and families should be informed that AEDs increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior and should be advised of the need to be alert for the emergence or worsening of the signs and symptoms of depression, any unusual changes in mood or behavior, or the emergence of suicidal thoughts, behavior, or thoughts about self-harm. Behaviors of concern should be reported immediately to healthcare providers.
The use of Tegretol should be avoided in patients with a history of hepatic porphyria (e.g., acute intermittent porphyria, variegate porphyria, porphyria cutanea tarda). Acute attacks have been reported in such patients receiving Tegretol therapy. Carbamazepine administration has also been demonstrated to increase porphyrin precursors in rodents, a presumed mechanism for the induction of acute attacks of porphyria.
As with all antiepileptic drugs, Tegretol should be withdrawn gradually to minimize the potential of increased seizure frequency.
Usage In Pregnancy
Carbamazepine can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman.
Epidemiological data suggest that there may be an association between the use of carbamazepine during pregnancy and congenital malformations, including spina bifida. There have also been reports that associate carbamazepine with developmental disorders and congenital anomalies (e.g., craniofacial defects, cardiovascular malformations, hypospadias, and anomalies involving various body systems). Developmental delays based on neurobehavioral assessments have been reported. In treating or counseling women of childbearing potential, the prescribing physician will wish to weigh the benefits of therapy against the risks. If this drug is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus.
Retrospective case reviews suggest that, compared with monotherapy, there may be a higher prevalence of teratogenic effects associated with the use of anticonvulsants in combination therapy. Therefore, if therapy is to be continued, monotherapy may be preferable for pregnant women.
In humans, transplacental passage of carbamazepine is rapid (30-60 minutes), and the drug is accumulated in the fetal tissues, with higher levels found in liver and kidney than in brain and lung.
Carbamazepine has been shown to have adverse effects in reproduction studies in rats when given orally in dosages 10-25 times the maximum human daily dosage (MHDD) of 1200 mg on a mg/kg basis or 1.5-4 times the MHDD on a mg/m² basis. In rat teratology studies, 2 of 135 offspring showed kinked ribs at 250 mg/kg and 4 of 119 offspring at 650 mg/kg showed other anomalies (cleft palate, 1; talipes, 1; anophthalmos, 2). In reproduction studies in rats, nursing offspring demonstrated a lack of weight gain and an unkempt appearance at a maternal dosage level of 200 mg/kg.
Antiepileptic drugs should not be discontinued abruptly in patients in whom the drug is administered to prevent major seizures because of the strong possibility of precipitating status epilepticus with attendant hypoxia and threat to life. In individual cases where the severity and frequency of the seizure disorder are such that removal of medication does not pose a serious threat to the patient, discontinuation of the drug may be considered prior to and during pregnancy, although it cannot be said with any confidence that even minor seizures do not pose some hazard to the developing embryo or fetus.
Tests to detect defects using currently accepted procedures should be considered a part of routine prenatal care in childbearing women receiving carbamazepine.
There have been a few cases of neonatal seizures and/or respiratory depression associated with maternal Tegretol and other concomitant anticonvulsant drug use. A few cases of neonatal vomiting, diarrhea, and/or decreased feeding have also been reported in association with maternal Tegretol use. These symptoms may represent a neonatal withdrawal syndrome.
To provide information regarding the effects of in utero exposure to Tegretol, physicians are advised to recommend that pregnant patients taking Tegretol enroll in the North American Antiepileptic Drug (NAAED) Pregnancy Registry. This can be done by calling the toll free number 1-888-233-2334, and must be done by patients themselves. Information on the registry can also be found at the website http://www.aedpregnancyregistry.org/.
Before initiating therapy, a detailed history and physical examination should be made.
Tegretol should be used with caution in patients with a mixed seizure disorder that includes atypical absence seizures, since in these patients Tegretol has been associated with increased frequency of generalized convulsions (see INDICATIONS AND USAGE).
Therapy should be prescribed only after critical benefit-to-risk appraisal in patients with a history of cardiac conduction disturbance, including second and third degree AV heart block; cardiac, hepatic, or renal damage; adverse hematologic or hypersensitivity reaction to other drugs, including reactions to other anticonvulsants; or interrupted courses of therapy with Tegretol.
AV heart block, including second and third degree block, have been reported following Tegretol treatment. This occurred generally, but not solely, in patients with underlying EKG abnormalities or risk factors for conduction disturbances.
Hepatic effects, ranging from slight elevations in liver enzymes to rare cases of hepatic failure have been reported (see ADVERSE REACTIONS and Laboratory Tests). In some cases, hepatic effects may progress despite discontinuation of the drug. In addition, rare instances of vanishing bile duct syndrome have been reported. This syndrome consists of a cholestatic process with a variable clinical course ranging from fulminant to indolent, involving the destruction and disappearance of the intrahepatic bile ducts. Some, but not all, cases are associated with features that overlap with other immunoallergenic syndromes such as multiorgan hypersensitivity (DRESS syndrome) and serious dermatologic reactions. As an example there has been a report of vanishing bile duct syndrome associated with Stevens-Johnson syndrome and in another case an association with fever and eosinophilia.
Since a given dose of Tegretol suspension will produce higher peak levels than the same dose given as the tablet, it is recommended that patients given the suspension be started on lower doses and increased slowly to avoid unwanted side effects (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Tegretol suspension contains sorbitol and, therefore, should not be administered to patients with rare hereditary problems of fructose intolerance.
Information for Patients
Patients should be informed of the availability of a Medication Guide and they should be instructed to read the Medication Guide before taking Tegretol.
Patients should be made aware of the early toxic signs and symptoms of a potential hematologic problem, as well as dermatologic, hypersensitivity or hepatic reactions. These symptoms may include, but are not limited to, fever, sore throat, rash, ulcers in the mouth, easy bruising, lymphadenopathy and petechial or purpuric hemorrhage, and in the case of liver reactions, anorexia, nausea/vomiting, or jaundice. The patient should be advised that, because these signs and symptoms may signal a serious reaction, that they must report any occurrence immediately to a physician. In addition, the patient should be advised that these signs and symptoms should be reported even if mild or when occurring after extended use.
Patients should be advised that serious skin reactions have been reported in association with Tegretol. In the event a skin reaction should occur while taking Tegretol, patients should consult with their physician immediately (see WARNINGS).
Patients, their caregivers, and families should be counseled that AEDs, including Tegretol, may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior and should be advised of the need to be alert for the emergence or worsening of symptoms of depression, any unusual changes in mood or behavior, or the emergence of suicidal thoughts, behavior, or thoughts about self-harm. Behaviors of concern should be reported immediately to healthcare providers.
Tegretol may interact with some drugs. Therefore, patients should be advised to report to their doctors the use of any other prescription or nonprescription medications or herbal products.
Caution should be exercised if alcohol is taken in combination with Tegretol therapy, due to a possible additive sedative effect.
Since dizziness and drowsiness may occur, patients should be cautioned about the hazards of operating machinery or automobiles or engaging in other potentially dangerous tasks.
Patients should be encouraged to enroll in the NAAED Pregnancy Registry if they become pregnant. This registry is collecting information about the safety of antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy. To enroll, patients can call the toll free number 1-888-233-2334 (see WARNINGS, Usage in Pregnancy subsection).
For genetically at-risk patients (see WARNINGS), high-resolution 'HLA-B*1502 typing' is recommended. The test is positive if either one or two HLA-B*1502 alleles are detected and negative if no HLA-B*1502 alleles are detected.
Complete pretreatment blood counts, including platelets and possibly reticulocytes and serum iron, should be obtained as a baseline. If a patient in the course of treatment exhibits low or decreased white blood cell or platelet counts, the patient should be monitored closely. Discontinuation of the drug should be considered if any evidence of significant bone marrow depression develops.
Baseline and periodic evaluations of liver function, particularly in patients with a history of liver disease, must be performed during treatment with this drug since liver damage may occur (see PRECAUTIONS, General and ADVERSE REACTIONS). Carbamazepine should be discontinued, based on clinical judgment, if indicated by newly occurring or worsening clinical or laboratory evidence of liver dysfunction or hepatic damage, or in the case of active liver disease.
Baseline and periodic eye examinations, including slit-lamp, funduscopy, and tonometry, are recommended since many phenothiazines and related drugs have been shown to cause eye changes.
Monitoring of blood levels (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY) has increased the efficacy and safety of anticonvulsants. This monitoring may be particularly useful in cases of dramatic increase in seizure frequency and for verification of compliance. In addition, measurement of drug serum levels may aid in determining the cause of toxicity when more than one medication is being used.
Thyroid function tests have been reported to show decreased values with Tegretol administered alone.
Hyponatremia has been reported in association with Tegretol use, either alone or in combination with other drugs.
Interference with some pregnancy tests has been reported.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
Carbamazepine, when administered to Sprague-Dawley rats for two years in the diet at doses of 25, 75, and 250 mg/kg/day, resulted in a dose-related increase in the incidence of hepatocellular tumors in females and of benign interstitial cell adenomas in the testes of males.
Carbamazepine must, therefore, be considered to be carcinogenic in Sprague-Dawley rats. Bacterial and mammalian mutagenicity studies using carbamazepine produced negative results. The significance of these findings relative to the use of carbamazepine in humans is, at present, unknown.
Usage In Pregnancy
Pregnancy Category D (see WARNINGS).
Labor And Delivery
The effect of Tegretol on human labor and delivery is unknown.
Tegretol and its epoxide metabolite are transferred to breast milk. The ratio of the concentration in breast milk to that in maternal plasma is about 0.4 for Tegretol and about 0.5 for the epoxide. The estimated doses given to the newborn during breast-feeding are in the range of 2-5 mg daily for Tegretol and 1-2 mg daily for the epoxide.
Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from carbamazepine, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.
Substantial evidence of Tegretol's effectiveness for use in the management of children with epilepsy (see INDICATIONS AND USAGE for specific seizure types) is derived from clinical investigations performed in adults and from studies in several in vitro systems which support the conclusion that (1) the pathogenetic mechanisms underlying seizure propagation are essentially identical in adults and children, and (2) the mechanism of action of carbamazepine in treating seizures is essentially identical in adults and children.
Taken as a whole, this information supports a conclusion that the generally accepted therapeutic range of total carbamazepine in plasma (i.e., 4-12 mcg/mL) is the same in children and adults.
The evidence assembled was primarily obtained from short-term use of carbamazepine. The safety of carbamazepine in children has been systematically studied up to 6 months. No longer-term data from clinical trials is available.
No systematic studies in geriatric patients have been conducted.
Last reviewed on RxList: 1/29/2014
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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