Use of dronabinol capsules is not recommended in nursing mothers since, in addition to the secretion of HIV virus in breast milk, dronabinol is concentrated in and secreted in human breast milk and is absorbed by the nursing baby.
Clinical studies of dronabinol capsules in AIDS and cancer patients did not include the sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of falls, decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, increased sensitivity to psychoactive effects and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.
Adverse experiences information summarized in the tables below was derived from well-controlled clinical trials conducted in the U.S. and U.S. territories involving 474 patients exposed to dronabinol capsules. Studies of AIDS-related weight loss included 157 patients receiving dronabinol at a dose of 2.5 mg twice daily and 67 receiving placebo. Studies of different durations were combined by considering the first occurrence of events during the first 28 days. Studies of nausea and vomiting related to cancer chemotherapy included 317 patients receiving dronabinol and 68 receiving placebo.
A cannabinoid dose-related “high” (easy laughing, elation and heightened awareness) has been reported by patients receiving dronabinol capsules in both the antiemetic (24%) and the lower dose appetite stimulant clinical trials (8%). (see CLINICAL TRIALS).
The most frequently reported adverse experiences in patients with AIDS during placebo-controlled clinical trials involved the CNS and were reported by 33% of patients receiving dronabinol capsules. About 25% of patients reported a minor CNS adverse event during the first 2 weeks and about 4% reported such an event each week for the next 6 weeks thereafter.
PROBABLY CAUSALLY RELATED: Incidence greater than 1%.
Rates derived from clinical trials in AIDS-related anorexia (N=157) and chemotherapy-related nausea (N=317). Rates were generally higher in the anti-emetic use (given in parentheses).
|*Incidence of events 3% to 10%|
|Body as a whole: Asthenia.|
|Cardiovascular: Palpitations, tachycardia, vasodilation/facial flush.|
|Digestive: Abdominal pain*, nausea*, vomiting*.|
|Nervous system: (Amnesia), anxiety/nervousness, (ataxia), confusion, depersonalization, dizziness*, euphoria*, (hallucination), paranoid reaction*, somnolence*, thinking abnormal*.|
PROBABLY CAUSALLY RELATED: Incidence less than 1%.
Event rates derived from clinical trials in AIDS-related anorexia (N=157) and chemotherapy-related nausea (N=317).
|*Incidence of events 0.3% to 1%|
|Cardiovascular: Conjunctivitis*, hypotension*.|
|Digestive: Diarrhea*, fecal incontinence.|
|Nervous system: Depression, nightmares, speech difficulties, tinnitus.|
|Skin and Appendages: Flushing*.|
|Special senses: Vision difficulties.|
CAUSAL RELATIONSHIP UNKNOWN: Incidence less than 1%.
The clinical significance of the association of these events with dronabinol capsules treatment is unknown, but they are reported as alerting information for the clinician.
|Body as a whole: Chills, headache, malaise.|
|Digestive: Anorexia, hepatic enzyme elevation.|
|Respiratory: Cough, rhinitis, sinusitis.|
|Skin and Appendages: Sweating|
Seizure and seizure-like activity have been reported in patients receiving dronabinol capsules during marketed use of the drug and in clinical trials. (see PRECAUTIONS and OVERDOSAGE.) Reports of fatigue have also been received. A causal relationship between dronabinol capsules and these events has not been established.
Dronabinol is one of the psychoactive compounds present in cannabis, and is abusable and controlled [Schedule III (CIII)] under the Controlled Substances Act. Both psychological and physiological dependence have been noted in healthy individuals receiving dronabinol, but addiction is uncommon and has only been seen after prolonged high dose administration.
Chronic abuse of cannabis has been associated with decrements in motivation, cognition, judgment, and perception. The etiology of these impairments is unknown, but may be associated with the complex process of addiction rather than an isolated effect of the drug. No such decrements in psychological, social or neurological status have been associated with the administration of dronabinol capsules for therapeutic purposes.
In an open-label study in patients with AIDS who received dronabinol capsules for up to five months, no abuse, diversion or systematic change in personality or social functioning were observed despite the inclusion of a substantial number of patients with a past history of drug abuse.
An abstinence syndrome has been reported after the abrupt discontinuation of dronabinol in volunteers receiving dosages of 210 mg/day for 12 to 16 consecutive days. Within 12 hours after discontinuation, these volunteers manifested symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, and restlessness. By approximately 24 hours post-dronabinol discontinuation, withdrawal symptoms intensified to include “hot flashes”, sweating, rhinorrhea, loose stools, hiccoughs and anorexia.
These withdrawal symptoms gradually dissipated over the next 48 hours. Electroencephalographic changes consistent with the effects of drug withdrawal (hyperexcitation) were recorded in patients after abrupt dechallenge. Patients also complained of disturbed sleep for several weeks after discontinuing therapy with high dosages of dronabinol.
Signs and symptoms following MILD dronabinol intoxication include drowsiness, euphoria, heightened sensory awareness, altered time perception, reddened conjunctiva, dry mouth and tachycardia; following MODERATE intoxication include memory impairment, depersonalization, mood alteration, urinary retention, and reduced bowel motility; and following SEVERE intoxication include decreased motor coordination, lethargy, slurred speech, and postural hypotension. Apprehensive patients may experience panic reactions and seizures may occur in patients with existing seizure disorders.
The estimated lethal human dose of intravenous dronabinol is 30 mg/kg (2100 mg/70 kg). Significant CNS symptoms in antiemetic studies followed oral doses of 0.4 mg/kg (28 mg/70 kg) of dronabinol capsules.
Management: A potentially serious oral ingestion, if recent, should be managed with gut decontamination. In unconscious patients with a secure airway, instill activated charcoal (30 to 100 g in adults, 1 to 2 g/kg in infants) via a nasogastric tube. A saline cathartic or sorbitol may be added to the first dose of activated charcoal. Patients experiencing depressive, hallucinatory or psychotic reactions should be placed in a quiet area and offered reassurance. Benzodiazepines (5 to 10 mg diazepam po) may be used for treatment of extreme agitation. Hypotension usually responds to Trendelenburg position and IV fluids. Pressors are rarely required.
Appetite Stimulation: Initially, 2.5 mg dronabinol capsules should be administered orally twice daily (b.i.d.), before lunch and supper. For patients unable to tolerate this 5 mg/day dosage of dronabinol capsules, the dosage can be reduced to 2.5 mg/day, administered as a single dose in the evening or at bedtime. If clinically indicated and in the absence of significant adverse effects, the dosage may be gradually increased to a maximum of 20 mg/day dronabinol capsules, administered in divided oral doses. Caution should be exercised in escalating the dosage of dronabinol capsules because of the increased frequency of dose-related adverse experiences at higher dosages. (see PRECAUTIONS.)
Antiemetic: Dronabinol Capsules are best administered at an initial dose of 5 mg/m2 , given 1 to 3 hours prior to the administration of chemotherapy, then every 2 to 4 hours after chemotherapy is given, for a total of 4 to 6 doses/day. Should the 5 mg/m2 dose prove to be ineffective, and in the absence of significant side effects, the dose may be escalated by 2.5 mg/m2 increments to a maximum of 15 mg/m2 per dose. Caution should be exercised in dose escalation, however, as the incidence of disturbing psychiatric symptoms increases significantly at maximum dose (see PRECAUTIONS).
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