Orthostatic hypotension, falls and syncope have been reported with therapeutic doses of duloxetine. Syncope and orthostatic hypotension tend to occur within the first week of therapy but can occur at any time during duloxetine treatment, particularly after dose increases. The risk of falling appears to be related to the degree of orthostatic decrease in blood pressure as well as other factors that may increase the underlying risk of falls.
In an analysis of patients from all placebo-controlled trials, patients treated with duloxetine reported a higher rate of falls compared to patients treated with placebo. Risk appears to be related to the presence of orthostatic decrease in blood pressure. The risk of blood pressure decreases may be greater in patients taking concomitant medications that induce orthostatic hypotension (such as antihypertensives) or are potent CYP1A2 inhibitors [see Warnings and Precautions (5.12) and Drug Interactions (7.1)] and in patients taking duloxetine at doses above 60 mg daily. Consideration should be given to dose reduction or discontinuation of duloxetine in patients who experience symptomatic orthostatic hypotension, falls and/or syncope during duloxetine therapy.
Risk of falling also appeared to be proportional to a patient’s underlying risk for falls and appeared to increase steadily with age. As elderly patients tend to have a higher underlying risk for falls due to a higher prevalence of risk factors such as use of multiple medications, medical comorbidities and gait disturbances, the impact of increasing age by itself is unclear. Falls with serious consequences including bone fractures and hospitalizations have been reported [see Adverse Reactions (6.10) and Patient Counseling Information (17)].
The development of a potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome has been reported with SNRIs and SSRIs, including duloxetine, alone but particularly with concomitant use of other serotonergic drugs (including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, tryptophan, buspirone, amphetamines and St. John’s Wort) and with drugs that impair metabolism of serotonin (in particular, MAOIs, both those intended to treat psychiatric disorders and also others, such as linezolid and intravenous methylene blue).
Serotonin syndrome symptoms may include mental status changes (e.g., agitation, hallucinations, delirium, and coma), autonomic instability (e.g., tachycardia, labile blood pressure, dizziness, diaphoresis, flushing, hyperthermia), neuromuscular symptoms (e.g., tremor, rigidity, myoclonus, hyperreflexia, incoordination), seizures, and/or gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea). Patients should be monitored for the emergence of serotonin syndrome.
The concomitant use of duloxetine with MAOIs intended to treat psychiatric disorders is contraindicated. Duloxetine should also not be started in a patient who is being treated with MAOIs such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue. All reports with methylene blue that provided information on the route of administration involved intravenous administration in the dose range of 1 mg/kg to 8 mg/kg. No reports involved the administration of methylene blue by other routes (such as oral tablets or local tissue injection) or at lower doses. There may be circumstances when it is necessary to initiate treatment with an MAOI such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue in a patient taking duloxetine. Duloxetine should be discontinued before initiating treatment with the MAOI [see Dosage and Administration (2.8, 2.9), and Contraindications (4)].
If concomitant use of duloxetine with other serotonergic drugs including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, buspirone, tryptophan, amphetamines and St. John’s Wort is clinically warranted, patients should be made aware of a potential increased risk for serotonin syndrome, particularly during treatment initiation and dose increases. Treatment with duloxetine and any concomitant serotonergic agents, should be discontinued immediately if the above events occur and supportive symptomatic treatment should be initiated.
SSRIs and SNRIs, including duloxetine, may increase the risk of bleeding events. Concomitant use of aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, warfarin, and other anti-coagulants may add to this risk. Case reports and epidemiological studies (case-control and cohort design) have demonstrated an association between use of drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake and the occurrence of gastrointestinal bleeding. Bleeding events related to SSRIs and SNRIs use have ranged from ecchymoses, hematomas, epistaxis, and petechiae to life-threatening hemorrhages.
Patients should be cautioned about the risk of bleeding associated with the concomitant use of duloxetine and NSAIDs, aspirin, or other drugs that affect coagulation.
Severe skin reactions, including erythema multiforme and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), can occur with duloxetine. The reporting rate of SJS associated with duloxetine use exceeds the general population background incidence rate for this serious skin reaction (1 to 2 cases per million person years). The reporting rate is generally accepted to be an underestimate due to underreporting.
Duloxetine should be discontinued at the first appearance of blisters, peeling rash, mucosal erosions, or any other sign of hypersensitivity if no other etiology can be identified.
Discontinuation symptoms have been systematically evaluated in patients taking duloxetine. Following abrupt or tapered discontinuation in adult placebo-controlled clinical trials, the following symptoms occurred at 1% or greater and at a significantly higher rate in duloxetine-treated patients compared to those discontinuing from placebo: dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, paresthesia, irritability, vomiting, insomnia, anxiety, hyperhidrosis, and fatigue.
During marketing of other SSRIs and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), there have been spontaneous reports of adverse events occurring upon discontinuation of these drugs, particularly when abrupt, including the following: dysphoric mood, irritability, agitation, dizziness, sensory disturbances (e.g., paresthesias such as electric shock sensations), anxiety, confusion, headache, lethargy, emotional lability, insomnia, hypomania, tinnitus, and seizures. Although these events are generally self-limiting, some have been reported to be severe.
Patients should be monitored for these symptoms when discontinuing treatment with duloxetine. A gradual reduction in the dose rather than abrupt cessation is recommended whenever possible. If intolerable symptoms occur following a decrease in the dose or upon discontinuation of treatment, then resuming the previously prescribed dose may be considered. Subsequently, the physician may continue decreasing the dose but at a more gradual rate [see Dosage and Administration (2.7)].
In adult placebo-controlled trials in patients with major depressive disorder, activation of mania or hypomania was reported in 0.1% (4/3779) of duloxetine-treated patients and 0.04% (1/2536) of placebo-treated patients. No activation of mania or hypomania was reported in DPNP, GAD, or chronic musculoskeletal pain placebo-controlled trials. Activation of mania or hypomania has been reported in a small proportion of patients with mood disorders who were treated with other marketed drugs effective in the treatment of major depressive disorder. As with these other agents, duloxetine should be used cautiously in patients with a history of mania.
The pupillary dilation that occurs following use of many antidepressant drugs including duloxetine may trigger an angle closure attack in a patient with anatomically narrow angles who does not have a patent iridectomy.
Duloxetine has not been systematically evaluated in patients with a seizure disorder, and such patients were excluded from clinical studies. In adult placebo-controlled clinical trials, seizures/convulsions occurred in 0.02% (3/12,722) of patients treated with duloxetine and 0.01% (1/9513) of patients treated with placebo. Duloxetine delayed-release capsules should be prescribed with care in patients with a history of a seizure disorder.
In adult placebo-controlled clinical trials across indications from baseline to endpoint, duloxetine treatment was associated with mean increases of 0.5 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 0.8 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure compared to mean decreases of 0.6 mm Hg systolic and 0.3 mm Hg diastolic in placebo-treated patients. There was no significant difference in the frequency of sustained (3 consecutive visits) elevated blood pressure. In a clinical pharmacology study designed to evaluate the effects of duloxetine on various parameters, including blood pressure at supratherapeutic doses with an accelerated dose titration, there was evidence of increases in supine blood pressure at doses up to 200 mg twice daily. At the highest 200 mg twice daily dose, the increase in mean pulse rate was 5.0 to 6.8 beats and increases in mean blood pressure were 4.7 to 6.8 mm Hg (systolic) and 4.5 to 7 mm Hg (diastolic) up to 12 hours after dosing.
Blood pressure should be measured prior to initiating treatment and periodically measured throughout treatment [see Adverse Reactions (6.7)].
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