The pupillary dilation that occurs following use of many antidepressant drugs including clomipramine may trigger an angle closure attack in a patient with anatomically narrow angles who does not have a patent iridectomy.
During premarket evaluation, seizure was identified as the most significant risk of clomipramine use.
The observed cumulative incidence of seizures among patients exposed to clomipramine at doses up to 300 mg/day was 0.64% at 90 days, 1.12% at 180 days, and 1.45% at 365 days. The cumulative rates correct the crude rate of 0.7%, (25 of 3519 patients) for the variable duration of exposure in clinical trials.
Although dose appears to be a predictor of seizure, there is a confounding of dose and duration of exposure, making it difficult to assess independently the effect of either factor alone. The ability to predict the occurrence of seizures in subjects exposed to doses of CMI greater than 250 mg is limited, given that the plasma concentration of CMI may be dose-dependent and may vary among subjects given the same dose. Nevertheless, prescribers are advised to limit the daily dose to a maximum of 250 mg in adults and 3 mg/kg (or 200 mg) in children and adolescents (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Caution should be used in administering clomipramine to patients with a history of seizures or other predisposing factors, e.g., brain damage of varying etiology, alcoholism, and concomitant use with other drugs that lower the seizure threshold.
Rare reports of fatalities in association with seizures have been reported by foreign postmarketing surveillance, but not in U.S. clinical trials. In some of these cases, clomipramine had been administered with other epileptogenic agents; in others, the patients involved had possibly predisposing medical conditions. Thus a causal association between clomipramine treatment and these fatalities has not been established.
Physicians should discuss with patients the risk of taking clomipramine while engaging in activities in which sudden loss of consciousness could result in serious injury to the patient or others, e.g., the operation of complex machinery, driving, swimming, climbing.
Since depression is a commonly associated feature of OCD, the risk of suicide must be considered. Prescriptions for clomipramine hydrochloride should be written for the smallest quantity of capsules consistent with good patient management, in order to reduce the risk of overdose.
Modest orthostatic decreases in blood pressure and modest tachycardia were each seen in approximately 20% of patients taking clomipramine hydrochloride in clinical trials; but patients were frequently asymptomatic. Among approximately 1400 patients treated with CMI in the premarketing experience who had ECGs, 1.5% developed abnormalities during treatment, compared with 3.1% of patients receiving active control drugs and 0.7% of patients receiving placebo. The most common ECG changes were PVCs, ST-T wave changes, and intraventricular conduction abnormalities. These changes were rarely associated with significant clinical symptoms. Nevertheless, caution is necessary in treating patients with known cardiovascular disease, and gradual dose titration is recommended.
Patients treated with clomipramine have been reported to show a variety of neuropsychiatric signs and symptoms including delusions, hallucinations, psychotic episodes, confusion, and paranoia. Because of the uncontrolled nature of many of the studies, it is impossible to provide a precise estimate of the extent of risk imposed by treatment with clomipramine. As with tricyclic antidepressants to which it is closely related, clomipramine may precipitate an acute psychotic episode in patients with unrecognized schizophrenia.
During premarketing testing of clomipramine in patients with affective disorder, hypomania or mania was precipitated in several patients. Activation of mania or hypomania has also been reported in a small proportion of patients with affective disorder treated with marketed tricyclic antidepressants, which are closely related to clomipramine.
During premarketing testing, clomipramine was occasionally associated with elevations in SGOT and SGPT (pooled incidence of approximately 1% and 3%, respectively) of potential clinical importance (i.e., values greater than 3 times the upper limit of normal). In the vast majority of instances, these enzyme increases were not associated with other clinical findings suggestive of hepatic injury; moreover, none were jaundiced. Rare reports of more severe liver injury, some fatal, have been recorded in foreign postmarketing experience. Caution is indicated in treating patients with known liver disease, and periodic monitoring of hepatic enzyme levels is recommended in such patients.
Although no instances of severe hematologic toxicity were seen in the premarketing experience with clomipramine, there have been postmarketing reports of leukopenia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia, anemia, and pancytopenia in association with clomipramine hydrochloride capsules USP use. As is the case with tricyclic antidepressants to which clomipramine is closely related, leukocyte and differential blood counts should be obtained in patients who develop fever and sore throat during treatment with clomipramine.
More than 30 cases of hyperthermia have been recorded by nondomestic post-marketing surveillance systems. Most cases occurred when clomipramine was used in combination with other drugs. When clomipramine and a neuroleptic were used concomitantly, the cases were sometimes considered to be examples of a neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
The rate of sexual dysfunction in male patients with OCD who were treated with clomipramine in the premarketing experience was markedly increased compared with placebo controls (i.e., 42% experienced ejaculatory failure and 20% experienced impotence, compared with 2.0% and 2.6%, respectively, in the placebo group). Approximately 85% of males with sexual dysfunction chose to continue treatment.
In controlled studies of OCD, weight gain was reported in 18% of patients receiving clomipramine, compared with 1% of patients receiving placebo. In these studies, 28% of patients receiving clomipramine had a weight gain of at least 7% of their initial body weight, compared with 4% of patients receiving placebo. Several patients had weight gains in excess of 25% of their initial body weight. Conversely, 5% of patients receiving clomipramine and 1% receiving placebo had weight losses of at least 7% of their initial body weight.
As with closely related tricyclic antidepressants, concurrent administration of clomipramine with electroconvulsive therapy may increase the risks; such treatment should be limited to those patients for whom it is essential, since there is limited clinical experience.
Prior to elective surgery with general anesthetics, therapy with clomipramine should be discontinued for as long as is clinically feasible, and the anesthetist should be advised.
As with closely related tricyclic antidepressants, clomipramine should be used with caution in the following:
- Hyperthyroid patients or patients receiving thyroid medication, because of the possibility of cardiac toxicity;
- Patients with increased intraocular pressure, a history of narrow-angle glaucoma, or urinary retention, because of the anticholinergic properties of the drug;
- Patients with tumors of the adrenal medulla (e.g., pheochromocytoma, neuroblastoma) in whom the drug may provoke hypertensive crises;
- Patients with significantly impaired renal function.
A variety of withdrawal symptoms have been reported in association with abrupt discontinuation of clomipramine, including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, malaise, sleep disturbance, hyperthermia, and irritability. In addition, such patients may experience a worsening of psychiatric status. While the withdrawal effects of clomipramine have not been systematically evaluated in controlled trials, they are well known with closely related tricyclic antidepressants, and it is recommended that the dosage be tapered gradually and the patient monitored carefully during discontinuation (see DRUG ABUSE AND DEPENDENCE).
Prescribers or other health professionals should inform patients, their families, and their caregivers about the benefits and risks associated with treatment with clomipramine hydrochloride and should counsel them in its appropriate use. A patient Medication Guide about “Antidepressant Medicines, Depression and other Serious Mental Illness, and Suicidal Thoughts or Actions” is available for clomipramine hydrochloride. The prescriber or health professional 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. The complete text of the Medication Guide is reprinted at the end of this document.
Patients should be advised of the following issues and asked to alert their prescriber if these occur while taking clomipramine hydrochloride.
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