Hemodynamic studies in man showed that the decrease in blood pressure observed after single-dose or long-term oral treatment with guanfacine was accompanied by a significant decrease in peripheral resistance and a slight reduction in heart rate (5 beats/min). Cardiac output under conditions of rest or exercise was not altered by guanfacine.
Guanfacine lowered elevated plasma renin activity and plasma catecholamine levels in hypertensive patients, but this does not correlate with individual blood-pressure responses.
Growth hormone secretion was stimulated with single oral doses of 2 and 4 mg of guanfacine. Long-term use of guanfacine had no effect on growth hormone levels.
Guanfacine had no effect on plasma aldosterone. A slight but insignificant decrease in plasma volume occurred after one month of guanfacine therapy. There were no changes in mean body weight or electrolytes.
Relative to an intravenous dose of 3 mg, the absolute oral bioavailability of guanfacine is about 80%. Peak plasma concentrations occur from 1 to 4 hours with an average of 2.6 hours after single oral doses or at steady state.
The area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) increases linearly with the dose.
In individuals with normal renal function, the average elimination half-life is approximately 17 hr (range 10-30 hr). Younger patients tend to have shorter elimination half-lives (13-14 hr) while older patients tend to have half-lives at the upper end of the range. Steady state blood levels were attained within 4 days in most subjects.
In individuals with normal renal function, guanfacine and its metabolites are excreted primarily in the urine. Approximately 50% (40-75%) of the dose is eliminated in the urine as unchanged drug; the remainder is eliminated mostly as conjugates of metabolites produced by oxidative metabolism of the aromatic ring.
The guanfacine-to-creatinine clearance ratio is greater than 1, which would suggest that tubular secretion of drug occurs.
The drug is approximately 70% bound to plasma proteins, independent of drug concentration.
The whole body volume of distribution is high (a mean of 6.3 L/kg), which suggests a high distribution of drug to the tissues.
The clearance of guanfacine in patients with varying degrees of renal insufficiency is reduced, but plasma levels of drug are only slightly increased compared to patients with normal renal function. When prescribing for patients with renal impairment, the low end of the dosing range should be used. Patients on dialysis also can be given usual doses of guanfacine hydrochloride as the drug is poorly dialyzed.
Guanfacine hydrochloride tablets are indicated in the management of hypertension. Guanfacine may be given alone or in combination with other antihypertensive agents, especially thiazide-type diuretics.
Guanfacine hydrochloride tablets are contraindicated in patients with known hypersensitivity to guanfacine hydrochloride.
Like other antihypertensive agents, guanfacine should be used with caution in patients with severe coronary insufficiency, recent myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular disease or chronic renal or hepatic failure.
Guanfacine, like other orally active central α 2 adrenergic agonists, causes sedation or drowsiness, especially when beginning therapy. These symptoms are dose-related (see ADVERSE REACTIONS). When guanfacine is used with other centrally active depressants (such as phenothiazines, barbiturates, or benzodiazepines), the potential for additive sedative effects should be considered.
Abrupt cessation of therapy with orally active central α 2 adrenergic agonists may be associated with increases (from depressed on-therapy levels) in plasma and urinary catecholamines, symptoms of “nervousness and anxiety” and, less commonly, increases in blood pressure to levels significantly greater than those prior to therapy.
Patients who receive guanfacine should be advised to exercise caution when operating dangerous machinery or driving motor vehicles until it is determined that they do not become drowsy or dizzy from the medication. Patients should be warned that their tolerance for alcohol and other CNS depressants may be diminished. Patients should be advised not to discontinue therapy abruptly.
In clinical trials, no clinically relevant laboratory test abnormalities were identified as causally related to drug during short-term treatment with guanfacine.
The potential for increased sedation when guanfacine is given with other CNS-depressant drugs should be appreciated.
The administration of guanfacine concomitantly with a known microsomal enzyme inducer (phenobarbital or phenytoin) to two patients with renal impairment reportedly resulted in significant reductions in elimination half-life and plasma concentration. In such cases, therefore, more frequent dosing may be required to achieve or maintain the desired hypotensive response. Further, if guanfacine is to be discontinued in such patients, careful tapering of the dosage may be necessary in order to avoid rebound phenomena (see Rebound above).
Ten patients who were stabilized on oral anticoagulants were given guanfacine, 1-2 mg/day, for 4 weeks. No changes were observed in the degree of anticoagulation.
In several well-controlled studies, guanfacine was administered together with diuretics with no drug interactions reported. In the long-term safety studies, guanfacine was given concomitantly with many drugs without evidence of any interactions. The principal drugs given (number of patients in parentheses) were: cardiac glycosides (115), sedatives and hypnotics (103), coronary vasodilators (52), oral hypoglycemics (45), cough and cold preparations (45), NSAIDs (38), antihyperlipidemics (29), antigout drugs (24), oral contraceptives (18), bronchodilators (13), insulin (10), and beta blockers (10).
No laboratory test abnormalities related to the use of guanfacine have been identified.
No carcinogenic effect was observed in studies of 78 weeks in mice at doses more than 150 times the maximum recommended human dose and 102 weeks in rats at doses more than 100 times the maximum recommended human dose. In a variety of test models, guanfacine was not mutagenic.
No adverse effects were observed in fertility studies in male and female rats.
Administration of guanfacine to rats at 70 times the maximum recommended human dose and to rabbits at 20 times the maximum recommended human dose resulted in no evidence of harm to the fetus. Higher doses (100 and 200 times the maximum recommended human dose in rabbits and rats respectively) were associated with reduced fetal survival and maternal toxicity. Rat experiments have shown that guanfacine crosses the placenta.
There are, however, no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, this drug should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.
Guanfacine is not recommended in the treatment of acute hypertension associated with toxemia of pregnancy. There is no information available on the effects of guanfacine on the course of labor and delivery.
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