Withdrawal symptoms of the barbiturate type have occurred after the discontinuation of benzodiazepines (see DRUG ABUSE AND DEPENDENCE).
When used in patients in whom several different types of seizure disorders coexist, clonazepam may increase the incidence or precipitate the onset of generalized tonic-clonic seizures (grand mal). This may require the addition of appropriate anticonvulsants or an increase in their dosages. The concomitant use of valproic acid and clonazepam may produce absence status.
Periodic blood counts and liver function tests are advisable during long-term therapy with clonazepam.
The abrupt withdrawal of clonazepam, particularly in those patients on long-term, high-dose therapy, may precipitate status epilepticus. Therefore, when discontinuing clonazepam, gradual withdrawal is essential. While clonazepam is being gradually withdrawn, the simultaneous substitution of another anticonvulsant may be indicated.
Metabolites of clonazepam are excreted by the kidneys; to avoid their excess accumulation, caution should be exercised in the administration of the drug to patients with impaired renal function.
Clonazepam may produce an increase in salivation. This should be considered before giving the drug to patients who have difficulty handling secretions.
Clonazepam should be used with caution in patients with compromised respiratory function.
Clonazepam may have a porphyrogenic effect and should be used with care in patients with porphyria.
A Clonazepam Tablets Medication Guide must be given to the patient each time clonazepam is dispensed, as required by law. Patients should be instructed to take clonazepam only as prescribed. Physicians are advised to discuss the following issues with patients for whom they prescribe clonazepam:
To assure the safe and effective use of benzodiazepines, patients should be informed that, since benzodiazepines may produce psychological and physical dependence, it is advisable that they consult with their physician before either increasing the dose or abruptly discontinuing this drug.
Because benzodiazepines have 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 clonazepam therapy does not affect them adversely.
Patients, their caregivers, and families should be counseled that AEDs, including clonazepam, 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.
Patients should be advised to notify their physician if they become pregnant or intend to become pregnant during therapy with clonazepam (see WARNINGS:Pregnancy Risks). Patients should be encouraged to enroll in the North American Antiepileptic Drug (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 PRECAUTIONS: Pregnancy).
Patients should be advised not to breastfeed an infant if they are taking clonazepam.
Patients should be advised to inform their physicians if they are taking, or plan to take, any prescription or over-the-counter drugs, since there is a potential for interactions.
Patients should be advised to avoid alcohol while taking clonazepam.
Clonazepam does not appear to alter the pharmacokinetics of phenytoin, carbamazepine or phenobarbital. The effect of clonazepam on the metabolism of other drugs has not been investigated.
Literature reports suggest that ranitidine, an agent that decreases stomach acidity, does not greatly alter clonazepam pharmacokinetics.
In a study in which the 2 mg clonazepam orally disintegrating tablet was administered with and without propantheline (an anticholinergic agent with multiple effects on the GI tract) to healthy volunteers, the AUC of clonazepam was 10% lower and the C max of clonazepam was 20% lower when the orally disintegrating tablet was given with propantheline compared to when it was given alone.
Fluoxetine does not affect the pharmacokinetics of clonazepam. Cytochrome P-450 inducers, such as phenytoin, carbamazepine and phenobarbital, induce clonazepam metabolism, causing an approximately 30% decrease in plasma clonazepam levels. Although clinical studies have not been performed, based on the involvement of the cytochrome P-450 3A family in clonazepam metabolism, inhibitors of this enzyme system, notably oral antifungal agents, should be used cautiously in patients receiving clonazepam.
The CNS-depressant action of the benzodiazepine class of drugs may be potentiated by alcohol, narcotics, barbiturates, nonbarbiturate hypnotics, antianxiety agents, the phenothiazines, thioxanthene and butyrophenone classes of antipsychotic agents, monoamine oxidase inhibitors and the tricyclic antidepressants, and by other anticonvulsant drugs.
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