General If diazepam is to be combined with other psychotropic agents or anticonvulsant drugs, careful consideration should be given to the pharmacology of the agents to be employed — particularly with known compounds that may potentiate the action of diazepam, such as phenothiazines, narcotics, barbiturates, MAO inhibitors and other antidepressants (see Drug Interactions). The usual precautions are indicated for severely depressed patients or those in whom there is any evidence of latent depression or anxiety associated with depression, particularly the recognition that suicidal tendencies may be present and protective measures may be necessary. Psychiatric and paradoxical reactions are known to occur when using benzodiazepines (see ADVERSE REACTIONS). Should this occur, use of the drug should be discontinued. These reactions are more likely to occur in children and the elderly. A lower dose is recommended for patients with chronic respiratory insufficiency, due to the risk of respiratory depression. Benzodiazepines should be used with extreme caution in patients with a history of alcohol or drug abuse (see DRUG ABUSE AND DEPENDENCE). In debilitated patients, it is recommended that the dosage be limited to the smallest effective amount to preclude the development of ataxia or oversedation (2 mg to 2.5 mg once or twice daily, initially, to be increased gradually as needed and tolerated). Some loss of response to the effects of benzodiazepines may develop after repeated use of diazepam for a prolonged time. Information for Patients 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. The risk of dependence increases with duration of treatment; it is also greater in patients with a history of alcohol or drug abuse. Patients should be advised against the simultaneous ingestion of alcohol and other CNS-depressant drugs during diazepam therapy. As is true of most CNS-acting drugs, patients receiving diazepam should be cautioned against engaging in hazardous occupations requiring complete mental alertness, such as operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle. Drug Interactions Centrally Acting Agents If diazepam is to be combined with other centrally acting agents, careful consideration should be given to the pharmacology of the agents employed particularly with compounds that may potentiate or be potentiated by the action of diazepam, such as phenothiazines, antipsychotics, anxiolytics/sedatives, hypnotics, anticonvulsants, narcotic analgesics, anesthetics, sedative antihistamines, narcotics, barbiturates, MAO inhibitors and other antidepressants. Alcohol Concomitant use with alcohol is not recommended due to enhancement of the sedative effect. Antacids Diazepam peak concentrations are 30% lower when antacids are administered concurrently. However, there is no effect on the extent of absorption. The lower peak concentrations appear due to a slower rate of absorption, with the time required to achieve peak concentrations on average 20 to 25 minutes greater in the presence of antacids. However, this difference was not statistically significant. Compounds Which Inhibit Certain Hepatic Enzymes There is a potentially relevant interaction between diazepam and compounds which inhibit certain hepatic enzymes (particularly cytochrome P450 3A and 2C19). Data indicate that these compounds influence the pharmacokinetics of diazepam and may lead to increased and prolonged sedation. At present, this reaction is known to occur with cimetidine, ketoconazole, fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, and omeprazole. Phenytoin There have also been reports that the metabolic elimination of phenytoin is decreased by diazepam. Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility In studies in which mice and rats were administered diazepam in the diet at a dose of 75 mg/kg/day (approximately 6 and 12 times, respectively, the maximum recommended human dose [MRHD = 1 mg/kg/day] on a mg/m basis) for 80 and 104 weeks, respectively, an increased incidence of liver tumors was observed in males of both species. The data currently available are inadequate to determine the mutagenic potential of diazepam. Reproduction studies in rats showed decreases in the number of pregnancies and in the number of surviving offspring following administration of an oral dose of 100 mg/kg/day (approximately 16 times the MRHD on a mg/m basis) prior to and during mating and throughout gestation and lactation. No adverse effects on fertility or offspring viability were noted at a dose of 80 mg/kg/day (approximately 13 times the MRHD on a mg/m basis). Pregnancy Teratogenic Effects Category D (see WARNINGS, Pregnancy). 2 2 2 Pediatric Us e Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients below the age of 6 months have not been established. Geriatric Us e In elderly patients, it is recommended that the dosage be limited to the smallest effective amount to preclude the development of ataxia or oversedation (2 mg to 2.5 mg once or twice daily, initially to be increased gradually as needed and tolerated). Extensive accumulation of diazepam and its major metabolite, desmethyldiazepam, has been noted following chronic administration of diazepam in healthy elderly male subjects. Metabolites of this drug are known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of toxic reactions may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection, and it may be useful to monitor renal function. Hepatic Insufficiency Decreases in clearance and protein binding, and increases in volume of distribution and half-life has been reported in patients with cirrhosis. In such patients, a 2 to 5 fold increase in mean half-life has been reported. Delayed elimination has also been reported for the active metabolite desmethyldiazepam. Benzodiazepines are commonly implicated in hepatic encephalopathy. Increases in half-life have also been reported in hepatic fibrosis and in both acute and chronic hepatitis (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Pharmacokinetics in Special Populations, Hepatic Insufficiency).
Side effects most commonly reported were drowsiness, fatigue, muscle weakness, and ataxia. The following have also been reported: Central Nervous System: confusion, depression, dysarthria, headache, slurred speech, tremor, vertigo Gastrointestinal System: constipation, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances Special Senses: blurred vision, diplopia, dizziness Cardiovascular System: hypotension Psychiatric and Paradoxical Reactions: stimulation, restlessness, acute hyperexcited states, anxiety, agitation, aggressiveness, irritability, rage, hallucinations, psychoses, delusions, increased muscle spasticity, insomnia, sleep disturbances, and nightmares. Inappropriate behavior and other adverse behavioral effects have been reported when using benzodiazepines. Should these occur, use of the drug should be discontinued. They are more likely to occur in children and in the elderly. Urogenital System: incontinence, changes in libido, urinary retention Skin and Appendages: skin reactions Laboratories: elevated transaminases and alkaline phosphatase Other: changes in salivation, including dry mouth, hypersalivation Antegrade amnesia may occur using therapeutic dosages, the risk increasing at higher dosages. Amnestic effects may be associated with inappropriate behavior. Minor changes in EEG patterns, usually low-voltage fast activity, have been observed in patients during and after diazepam therapy and are of no known significance. Because of isolated reports of neutropenia and jaundice, periodic blood counts and liver function tests are advisable during long-term therapy. Postmarketing Experience Injury, Poisoning and Procedural Complications: There have been reports of falls and fractures in benzodiazepine users. The risk is increased in those taking concomitant sedatives (including alcohol), and in the elderly.
Diazepam is subject to Schedule IV control under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Abuse and dependence of benzodiazepines have been reported. Addiction-prone individuals (such as drug addicts or alcoholics) should be under careful surveillance when receiving diazepam or other psychotropic agents because of the predisposition of such patients to habituation and dependence. Once physical dependence to benzodiazepines has developed, termination of treatment will be accompanied by withdrawal symptoms. The risk is more pronounced in patients on long-term therapy. Withdrawal symptoms, similar in character to those noted with barbiturates and alcohol have occurred following abrupt discontinuance of diazepam. These withdrawal symptoms may consist of tremor, abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating, headache, muscle pain, extreme anxiety, tension, restlessness, confusion and irritability. In severe cases, the following symptoms may occur: derealization, depersonalization, hyperacusis, numbness and tingling of the extremities, hypersensitivity to light, noise and physical contact, hallucinations or epileptic seizures. The more severe withdrawal symptoms have usually been limited to those patients who had received excessive doses over an extended period of time. Generally milder withdrawal symptoms (e.g., dysphoria and insomnia) have been reported following abrupt discontinuance of benzodiazepines taken continuously at therapeutic levels for several months. Consequently, after extended therapy, abrupt discontinuation should generally be avoided and a gradual dosage tapering schedule followed. Chronic use (even at therapeutic doses) may lead to the development of physical dependence: discontinuation of the therapy may result in withdrawal or rebound phenomena. Rebound Anxiety: A transient syndrome whereby the symptoms that led to treatment with diazepam recur in an enhanced form. This may occur upon discontinuation of treatment. It may be accompanied by other reactions including mood changes, anxiety, and restlessness. Since the risk of withdrawal phenomena and rebound phenomena is greater after abrupt discontinuation of treatment, it is recommended that the dosage be decreased gradually.
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