The precise mechanism by which atomoxetine produces its therapeutic effects in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is unknown, but is thought to be related to selective inhibition of the pre-synaptic norepinephrine transporter, as determined in ex vivo uptake and neurotransmitter depletion studies.
An exposure-response analysis encompassing doses of atomoxetine (0.5, 1.2 or 1.8 mg/kg/day) or placebo demonstrated atomoxetine exposure correlates with efficacy as measured by the Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Rating Scale-IV-Parent Version: Investigator administered and scored. The exposure-efficacy relationship was similar to that observed between dose and efficacy with median exposures at the two highest doses resulting in near maximal changes from baseline [see Clinical Studies (14.2)].
Cardiac Electrophysiology – The effect of atomoxetine on QTc prolongation was evaluated in a randomized, double-blinded, positive-(moxifloxacin 400 mg) and placebo-controlled, cross-over study in healthy male CYP2D6 poor metabolizers. A total of 120 healthy subjects were administered atomoxetine (20 mg and 60 mg) twice daily for 7 days. No large changes in QTc interval (i.e., increases >60 msec from baseline, absolute QTc >480 msec) were observed in the study. However, small changes in QTc interval cannot be excluded from the current study, because the study failed to demonstrate assay sensitivity. There was a slight increase in QTc interval with increased atomoxetine concentration.
Atomoxetine is well-absorbed after oral administration and is minimally affected by food. It is eliminated primarily by oxidative metabolism through the cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) enzymatic pathway and subsequent glucuronidation. Atomoxetine has a half-life of about 5 hours. A fraction of the population (about 7% of Caucasians and 2% of African Americans) are poor metabolizers (PMs) of CYP2D6 metabolized drugs. These individuals have reduced activity in this pathway resulting in 10-fold higher AUCs, 5-fold higher peak plasma concentrations, and slower elimination (plasma half-life of about 24 hours) of atomoxetine compared with people with normal activity [extensive metabolizers (Ems)]. Drugs that inhibit CYP2D6, such as fluoxetine, paroxetine, and quinidine, cause similar increases in exposure.
The pharmacokinetics of atomoxetine have been evaluated in more than 400 children and adolescents in selected clinical trials, primarily using population pharmacokinetic studies. Single-dose and steady-state individual pharmacokinetic data were also obtained in children, adolescents, and adults. When doses were normalized to a mg/kg basis, similar half-life, C max , and AUC values were observed in children, adolescents, and adults. Clearance and volume of distribution after adjustment for body weight were also similar.
Absorption and distribution – Atomoxetine is rapidly absorbed after oral administration, with absolute bioavailability of about 63% in Ems and 94% in PMs. Maximal plasma concentrations (C max ) are reached approximately 1 to 2 hours after dosing.
Atomoxetine can be administered with or without food. Administration of atomoxetine with a standard high-fat meal in adults did not affect the extent of oral absorption of atomoxetine (AUC), but did decrease the rate of absorption, resulting in a 37% lower C max , and delayed T max by 3 hours. In clinical trials with children and adolescents, administration of atomoxetine with food resulted in a 9% lower C max .
The steady-state volume of distribution after intravenous administration is 0.85 L/kg indicating that atomoxetine distributes primarily into total body water. Volume of distribution is similar across the patient weight range after normalizing for body weight.
At therapeutic concentrations, 98% of atomoxetine in plasma is bound to protein, primarily albumin.
Metabolism and elimination – Atomoxetine is metabolized primarily through the CYP2D6 enzymatic pathway. People with reduced activity in this pathway (PMs) have higher plasma concentrations of atomoxetine compared with people with normal activity (Ems). For PMs, AUC of atomoxetine is approximately 10-fold and C ss,max is about 5-fold greater than Ems. Laboratory tests are available to identify CYP2D6 PMs. Coadministration of atomoxetine with potent inhibitors of CYP2D6, such as fluoxetine, paroxetine, or quinidine, results in a substantial increase in atomoxetine plasma exposure, and dosing adjustment may be necessary [see Warnings and Precautions (5.13)]. Atomoxetine did not inhibit or induce the CYP2D6 pathway.
The major oxidative metabolite formed, regardless of CYP2D6 status, is 4-hydroxyatomoxetine, which is glucuronidated. 4-Hydroxyatomoxetine is equipotent to atomoxetine as an inhibitor of the norepinephrine transporter but circulates in plasma at much lower concentrations (1% of atomoxetine concentration in Ems and 0.1% of atomoxetine concentration in PMs). 4-Hydroxyatomoxetine is primarily formed by CYP2D6, but in PMs, 4-hydroxyatomoxetine is formed at a slower rate by several other cytochrome P450 enzymes. N-Desmethylatomoxetine is formed by CYP2C19 and other cytochrome P450 enzymes, but has substantially less pharmacological activity compared with atomoxetine and circulates in plasma at lower concentrations (5% of atomoxetine concentration in Ems and 45% of atomoxetine concentration in PMs).
Mean apparent plasma clearance of atomoxetine after oral administration in adult Ems is 0.35 L/hr/kg and the mean half-life is 5.2 hours. Following oral administration of atomoxetine to PMs, mean apparent plasma clearance is 0.03 L/hr/kg and mean half-life is 21.6 hours. For PMs, AUC of atomoxetine is approximately 10-fold and C ss,max is about 5-fold greater than Ems. The elimination half-life of 4-hydroxyatomoxetine is similar to that of N-desmethylatomoxetine (6 to 8 hours) in EM subjects, while the half-life of N-desmethylatomoxetine is much longer in PM subjects (34 to 40 hours).
Atomoxetine is excreted primarily as 4-hydroxyatomoxetine- O -glucuronide, mainly in the urine (greater than 80% of the dose) and to a lesser extent in the feces (less than 17% of the dose). Only a small fraction of the atomoxetine dose is excreted as unchanged atomoxetine (less than 3% of the dose), indicating extensive biotransformation.
Carcinogenesis – Atomoxetine hydrochloride was not carcinogenic in rats and mice when given in the diet for 2 years at time-weighted average doses up to 47 and 458 mg/kg/day, respectively. The highest dose used in rats is approximately 8 and 5 times the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) in children and adults, respectively, on a mg/m 2 basis. Plasma levels (AUC) of atomoxetine at this dose in rats are estimated to be 1.8 times (extensive metabolizers) or 0.2 times (poor metabolizers) those in humans receiving the maximum human dose. The highest dose used in mice is approximately 39 and 26 times the MRHD in children and adults, respectively, on a mg/m 2 basis.
Mutagenesis – Atomoxetine hydrochloride was negative in a battery of genotoxicity studies that included a reverse point mutation assay (Ames Test), an in vitro mouse lymphoma assay, a chromosomal aberration test in Chinese hamster ovary cells, an unscheduled DNA synthesis test in rat hepatocytes, and an in vivo micronucleus test in mice. However, there was a slight increase in the percentage of Chinese hamster ovary cells with diplochromosomes, suggesting endoreduplication (numerical aberration).
The metabolite N-desmethylatomoxetine hydrochloride was negative in the Ames Test, mouse lymphoma assay, and unscheduled DNA synthesis test.
Impairment of fertility – Atomoxetine hydrochloride did not impair fertility in rats when given in the diet at doses of up to 57 mg/kg/day, which is approximately 6 times the MRHD on a mg/m 2 basis.
Acute Studies – The effectiveness of atomoxetine in the treatment of ADHD was established in 4 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of pediatric patients (ages 6 to 18). Approximately one-third of the patients met DSM-IV criteria for inattentive subtype and two-thirds met criteria for both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive subtypes.
Signs and symptoms of ADHD were evaluated by a comparison of mean change from baseline to endpoint for atomoxetine- and placebo-treated patients using an intent-to-treat analysis of the primary outcome measure, the investigator administered and scored ADHD Rating Scale-IV-Parent Version (ADHDRS) total score including hyperactive/impulsive and inattentive subscales. Each item on the ADHDRS maps directly to one symptom criterion for ADHD in the DSM-IV.
In Study 1, an 8-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-response, acute treatment study of children and adolescents aged 8 to 18 (N=297), patients received either a fixed dose of atomoxetine (0.5, 1.2, or 1.8 mg/kg/day) or placebo. Atomoxetine was administered as a divided dose in the early morning and late afternoon/early evening. At the 2 higher doses, improvements in ADHD symptoms were statistically significantly superior in atomoxetine-treated patients compared with placebo-treated patients as measured on the ADHDRS scale. The 1.8 mg/kg/day atomoxetine dose did not provide any additional benefit over that observed with the 1.2 mg/kg/day dose. The 0.5 mg/kg/day atomoxetine dose was not superior to placebo.
In Study 2, a 6-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, acute treatment study of children and adolescents aged 6 to 16 (N=171), patients received either atomoxetine or placebo. Atomoxetine was administered as a single dose in the early morning and titrated on a weight-adjusted basis according to clinical response, up to a maximum dose of 1.5 mg/kg/day. The mean final dose of atomoxetine was approximately 1.3 mg/kg/day. ADHD symptoms were statistically significantly improved on atomoxetine compared with placebo, as measured on the ADHDRS scale. This study shows that atomoxetine is effective when administered once daily in the morning.
In 2 identical, 9-week, acute, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of children aged 7 to 13 (Study 3, N=147; Study 4, N=144), atomoxetine and methylphenidate were compared with placebo. Atomoxetine was administered as a divided dose in the early morning and late afternoon (after school) and titrated on a weight-adjusted basis according to clinical response. The maximum recommended atomoxetine dose was 2 mg/kg/day. The mean final dose of atomoxetine for both studies was approximately 1.6 mg/kg/day. In both studies, ADHD symptoms statistically significantly improved more on atomoxetine than on placebo, as measured on the ADHDRS scale.
Examination of population subsets based on gender and age (<12 and 12 to 17) did not reveal any differential responsiveness on the basis of these subgroupings. There was not sufficient exposure of ethnic groups other than Caucasian to allow exploration of differences in these subgroups.
Maintenance Study – The effectiveness of atomoxetine in the maintenance treatment of ADHD was established in an outpatient study of children and adolescents (ages 6 to 15 years). Patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for ADHD who showed continuous response for about 4 weeks during an initial 10 week open-label treatment phase with atomoxetine (1.2 to 1.8 mg/kg/day) were randomized to continuation of their current dose of atomoxetine (N=292) or to placebo (N=124) under double-blind treatment for observation of relapse. Response during the open-label phase was defined as CGI-ADHD-S score ≤2 and a reduction of at least 25% from baseline in ADHDRS-IV-Parent:Inv total score. Patients who were assigned to atomoxetine and showed continuous response for approximately 8 months during the first double-blind treatment phase were again randomized to continuation of their current dose of atomoxetine (N=81) or to placebo (N=82) under double-blind treatment for observation of relapse. Relapse during the double-blind phase was defined as CGI-ADHD-S score increases of at least 2 from the end of open-label phase and ADHDRS-IV-Parent:Inv total score returns to ≥90% of study entry score for 2 consecutive visits. In both double-blind phases, patients receiving continued atomoxetine treatment experienced significantly longer times to relapse than those receiving placebo.
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