CARBAMAZEPINE (Page 2 of 6)

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Carbamazepine is indicated in the treatment of the pain associated with true trigeminal neuralgia.

Beneficial results have also been reported in glossopharyngeal neuralgia.

This drug is not a simple analgesic and should not be used for the relief of trivial aches or pains.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Carbamazepine should not be used in patients with a history of previous bone marrow depression, hypersensitivity to the drug, or known sensitivity to any of the tricyclic compounds, such as amitriptyline, desipramine, imipramine, protriptyline, nortriptyline, etc. Likewise, on theoretical grounds its use with monoamine oxidase inhibitors is not recommended. Before administration of carbamazepine, MAO inhibitors should be discontinued for a minimum of 14 days, or longer if the clinical situation permits.

Coadministration of carbamazepine and nefazodone may result in insufficient plasma concentrations of nefazodone and its active metabolite to achieve a therapeutic effect. Coadministration of carbamazepine with nefazodone is contraindicated.

WARNINGS

Serious Dermatologic Reactions

Serious and sometimes fatal dermatologic reactions, including toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) and Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), have been reported with carbamazepine 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. Carbamazepine 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 carbamazepine 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. Carbamazepine 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 WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS , Laboratory Tests).

Over 90% of carbamazepine 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 carbamazepine.

The HLA-B* 1502 allele has not been found to predict risk of less severe adverse cutaneous reactions from carbamazepine, such as anticonvulsant hypersensitivity syndrome or nonserious rash (maculopapular eruption [MPE]).

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. 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.

Application of HLA-B* 1502 genotyping as a screening tool has important limitations and must never substitute for appropriate clinical vigilance and patient management. Many HLA-B* 1502-positive Asian patients treated with carbamazepine will not develop SJS/TEN, and these reactions can still occur infrequently in HLA-B* 1502-negative patients of any ethnicity. The role of other possible factors in the development of, and morbidity from, SJS/TEN, such as antiepileptic drug (AED) dose, compliance, concomitant medications, comorbidities, and the level of dermatologic monitoring have not been studied.

Aplastic Anemia and Agranulocytosis

Patients with a history of adverse hematologic reaction to any drug may be particularly at risk of bone marrow depression.

Suicidal Behavior and Ideation

Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), including carbamazepine, 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 to 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
Epilepsy 1.0 3.4 3.5 2.4
Psychiatric 5.7 8.5 1.5 2.9
Other 1.0 1.8 1.9 0.9
Total 2.4 4.3 1.8 1.9

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 carbamazepine 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.

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