Duloxetine (Page 11 of 16)


Duloxetine hydrochloride, USP is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSNRI) for oral administration. Its chemical designation is (γS)-N-Methyl-γ-(1-napthalenyloxy)-2-thiophenepropanamine hydrochloride. The empirical formula is C18 H19 NOS•HCl, which corresponds to a molecular weight of 333.87. The structural formula is:


Duloxetine hydrochloride, USP is an off-white to white colored crystalline powder which is freely soluble in methanol and sparingly soluble in water
Each capsule contains film-coated pellets of 22.4, 33.7, or 67.3 mg of duloxetine hydrochloride, USP equivalent to 20, 30, or 60 mg of duloxetine, respectively. Inactive ingredients include carboxy methyl ethyl cellulose, crospovidone, FD & C Blue 2, gelatin, hypromellose, isopropyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate 80, povidone, sodium lauryl sulfate, sucrose, sugar spheres, talc and titanium dioxide. In addition, the 20 mg and 60 mg capsules also contain iron oxide yellow. The imprinting ink contains, butyl alcohol, dehydrated alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol, shellac, and strong ammonia solution. The 20 mg capsule also contains black iron oxide and potassium hydroxide. The 30 mg capsule also contains yellow iron oxide. The 60 mg capsule also contains potassium hydroxide and titanium dioxide.


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Although the exact mechanisms of the antidepressant, central pain inhibitory and anxiolytic actions of duloxetine in humans are unknown, these actions are believed to be related to its potentiation of serotonergic and noradrenergic activity in the CNS.

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

Preclinical studies have shown that duloxetine is a potent inhibitor of neuronal serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake and a less potent inhibitor of dopamine reuptake. Duloxetine has no significant affinity for dopaminergic, adrenergic, cholinergic, histaminergic, opioid, glutamate, and GABA receptors in vitro. Duloxetine does not inhibit monoamine oxidase (MAO). Duloxetine delayed-release capsules are in a class of drugs known to affect urethral resistance. If symptoms of urinary hesitation develop during treatment with duloxetine delayed-release capsules, consideration should be given to the possibility that they might be drug-related.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics

Duloxetine has an elimination half-life of about 12 hours (range 8 to 17 hours) and its pharmacokinetics are dose proportional over the therapeutic range. Steady-state plasma concentrations are typically achieved after 3 days of dosing. Elimination of duloxetine is mainly through hepatic metabolism involving two P450 isozymes, CYP1A2 and CYP2D6.
Absorption and Distribution — Orally administered duloxetine hydrochloride is well absorbed. There is a median 2 hour lag until absorption begins (Tlag ), with maximal plasma concentrations (Cmax ) of duloxetine occurring 6 hours post dose. Food does not affect the Cmax of duloxetine, but delays the time to reach peak concentration from 6 to 10 hours and it marginally decreases the extent of absorption (AUC) by about 10%. There is a 3 hour delay in absorption and a one-third increase in apparent clearance of duloxetine after an evening dose as compared to a morning dose.
The apparent volume of distribution averages about 1,640 L. Duloxetine is highly bound (> 90%) to proteins in human plasma, binding primarily to albumin and α1-acid glycoprotein. The interaction between duloxetine and other highly protein bound drugs has not been fully evaluated. Plasma protein binding of duloxetine is not affected by renal or hepatic impairment.
Metabolism and Elimination — Biotransformation and disposition of duloxetine in humans have been determined following oral administration of 14 C-labeled duloxetine. Duloxetine comprises about 3% of the total radiolabeled material in the plasma, indicating that it undergoes extensive metabolism to numerous metabolites. The major biotransformation pathways for duloxetine involve oxidation of the naphthyl ring followed by conjugation and further oxidation. Both CYP1A2 and CYP2D6 catalyze the oxidation of the naphthyl ring in vitro. Metabolites found in plasma include 4-hydroxy duloxetine glucuronide and 5-hydroxy, 6-methoxy duloxetine sulfate. Many additional metabolites have been identified in urine, some representing only minor pathways of elimination. Only trace (< 1% of the dose) amounts of unchanged duloxetine are present in the urine. Most (about 70%) of the duloxetine dose appears in the urine as metabolites of duloxetine; about 20% is excreted in the feces. Duloxetine undergoes extensive metabolism, but the major circulating metabolites have not been shown to contribute significantly to the pharmacologic activity of duloxetine. Children and Adolescents (ages 7 to 17 years) — Duloxetine steady-state plasma concentration was comparable in children (7 to 12 years of age), adolescents (13 to 17 years of age) and adults. The average steady-state duloxetine concentration was approximately 30% lower in the pediatric population (children and adolescents) relative to the adults. The model-predicted duloxetine steady state plasma concentrations in children and adolescents were mostly within the concentration range observed in adult patients and did not exceed the concentration range in adults.


13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility

Carcinogenesis — Duloxetine was administered in the diet to mice and rats for 2 years.
In female mice receiving duloxetine at 140 mg/kg/day (6 times the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 120 mg/day on a mg/m2 basis), there was an increased incidence of hepatocellular adenomas and carcinomas. The no-effect dose was 50 mg/kg/day (2 times the MRHD). Tumor incidence was not increased in male mice receiving duloxetine at doses up to 100 mg/kg/day (4 times the MRHD).
In rats, dietary doses of duloxetine up to 27 mg/kg/day in females (2 times the MRHD) and up to 36 mg/kg/day in males (3 times the MRHD) did not increase the incidence of tumors.
Mutagenesis — Duloxetine was not mutagenic in the in vitro bacterial reverse mutation assay (Ames test) and was not clastogenic in an in vivo chromosomal aberration test in mouse bone marrow cells. Additionally, duloxetine was not genotoxic in an in vitro mammalian forward gene mutation assay in mouse lymphoma cells or in an in vitro unscheduled DNA synthesis (UDS) assay in primary rat hepatocytes, and did not induce sister chromatid exchange in Chinese hamster bone marrow in vivo.
Impairment of Fertility — Duloxetine administered orally to either male or female rats prior to and throughout mating at doses up to 45 mg/kg/day (4 times the MRHD) did not alter mating or fertility.


The efficacy of duloxetine delayed-release capsules has been established in the following adequate and well-controlled trials:
• Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): 4 short-term and 1 maintenance trial in adults [see Clinical Studies (14.1)].
• Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): 3 short-term trials in adults, 1 maintenance trial in adults [see Clinical Studies (14.2)].
• Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathic Pain (DPNP): Two 12-week trials in adults [see Clinical Studies (14.3)].
• Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: Two 12- to 13-week trials in adult patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP) and one 13-week trial in adult patients with chronic pain due to osteoarthritis [see Clinical Studies (14.5)].

14.1 Major Depressive Disorder

The efficacy of duloxetine delayed-release capsules as a treatment for depression was established in 4 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, fixed-dose studies in adult outpatients (18 to 83 years) meeting DSM-IV criteria for major depression. In 2 studies, patients were randomized to duloxetine delayed-release capsules 60 mg once daily (N=123 and N=128, respectively) or placebo (N=122 and N=139, respectively) for 9 weeks; in the third study, patients were randomized to duloxetine delayed-release capsules 20 or 40 mg twice daily (N=86 and N=91, respectively) or placebo (N=89) for 8 weeks; in the fourth study, patients were randomized to duloxetine delayed-release capsules 40 or 60 mg twice daily (N=95 and N=93, respectively) or placebo (N=93) for 8 weeks. There is no evidence that doses greater than 60 mg/day confer additional benefits.
In all 4 studies, duloxetine delayed-release capsules demonstrated superiority over placebo as measured by improvement in the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-17) total score (Studies 1 to 4 in Table 7).
In all of these clinical studies, analyses of the relationship between treatment outcome and age, gender, and race did not suggest any differential responsiveness on the basis of these patient characteristics. Table 7: Summary of the Primary Efficacy Results for Studies in Major Depressive Disorder

Study Number Treatment Group Primary Efficacy Measure: HAMD-17
Mean Baseline Score (SD) LS Mean Change from Baseline (SE) Placebo-subtracted Differencea (95% CI)
Study 1Duloxetine Delayed-Release Capsules (60 mg/day)b Placebo 21.5 (4.10)21.1 (3.71)-10.9 (0.70)-6.1 (0.69)-4.9 (-6.8, -2.9)–
Study 2 Duloxetine Delayed-Release Capsules (60 mg/day)b Placebo 20.3 (3.32)20.5 (3.42)-10.5 (0.71)-8.3 (0.67)-2.2 (-4.0, -0.3)–
Study 3Duloxetine Delayed-Release Capsules (20 mg BID)b Duloxetine Delayed-Release Capsules (40 mg BID)b Placebo 18.6 (5.85)18.1 (4.52)17.2 (5.11)-7.4 (0.80)-8.6 (0.81)-5 (0.81)-2.4 (-4.7, -0.2)-3.6 (-5.9, -1.4)–
Study 4 Duloxetine Delayed-Release Capsules (40 mg BID)b Duloxetine Delayed-Release Capsules (60 mg BID)b Placebo19.9 (3.54)20.2 (3.41)19.9 (3.58)-11 (0.49)-12.1 (0.49)-8.8 (0.50)-2.2 (-3.6, -0.9)-3.3 (-4.7, -1.9)–

SD: standard deviation; SE: standard error; LS Mean: least-squares mean; CI: confidence interval, not adjusted for multiplicity in trials where multiple dose groups were included.
a Difference (drug minus placebo) in least-squares mean change from baseline.
b Doses statistically significantly superior to placebo.
In another study, 533 patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for MDD received duloxetine delayed-release capsules 60 mg once daily during an initial 12-week open-label treatment phase. Two hundred and seventy-eight patients who responded to open label treatment (defined as meeting the following criteria at weeks 10 and 12: a HAMD-17 total score ≤ 9, Clinical Global Impressions of Severity (CGI-S) ≤ 2, and not meeting the DSM-IV criteria for MDD) were randomly assigned to continuation of duloxetine delayed-release capsules at the same dose (N=136) or to placebo (N=142) for 6 months. Patients on duloxetine delayed-release capsules experienced a statistically significantly longer time to relapse of depression than did patients on placebo (Study 5 in Figure 1). Relapse was defined as an increase in the CGI-S score of ≥ 2 points compared with that obtained at week 12, as well as meeting the DSM-IV criteria for MDD at 2 consecutive visits at least 2 weeks apart, where the 2-week temporal criterion had to be satisfied at only the second visit. The effectiveness of duloxetine delayed-release capsules in hospitalized patients with major depressive disorder has not been studied.

Figure 1: Kaplan-Meier Estimation of Cumulative Proportion of Patients with Relapse (MDD Study 5)

(click image for full-size original)

Time from Randomization to Relapse (Days)

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