NORTRIPTYLINE HYDROCHLORIDE- nortriptyline hydrochloride capsule
St. Mary’s Medical Park Pharmacy
Suicidality and Antidepressant Drugs
Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of nortriptyline hydrochloride or any other antidepressant in a child, adolescent, or young adult must balance this risk with the clinical need. Short-term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24; there was a reduction in risk with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older. Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide. Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. Families and caregivers should be advised of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber. Nortriptyline hydrochloride is not approved for use in pediatric patients ( see WARNINGS, Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk; PRECAUTIONS, Information for Patients, and PRECAUTIONS, Pediatric Use).
Nortriptyline Hydrochloride, USP is 1-propanamine, 3-(10,11-dihydro-5 H -dibenzo[ a,d ]cyclohepten-5-ylidene)- N -methyl, hydrochloride. The structural formula is as follows:
Each capsule, for oral administration, contains nortriptyline hydrochloride equivalent to 10 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg, and 75 mg of nortriptyline hydrochloride USP.
In addition, each capsule contains the following inactive ingredients: black iron oxide, colloidal silicon dioxide, D&C Yellow #10 (aluminum lake), D&C Yellow #10, FD&C Blue #1 (aluminum lake), FD&C Blue #2 (aluminum lake), FD&C Green #3 (10, 50 and 75 mg only), FD&C Red #40 (aluminum lake), gelatin, I.M.S. 74 OP, magnesium stearate, pregelatinized corn starch, shellac, sodium lauryl sulfate and titanium dioxide.
The mechanism of mood elevation by tricyclic antidepressants is at present unknown. Nortriptyline hydrochloride is not a monoamine oxidase inhibitor. It inhibits the activity of such diverse agents as histamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, and acetylcholine. It increases the pressor effect of norepinephrine but blocks the pressor response of phenethylamine. Studies suggest that nortriptyline hydrochloride interferes with the transport, release, and storage of catecholamines. Operant conditioning techniques in rats and pigeons suggest that nortriptyline hydrochloride has a combination of stimulant and depressant properties.
Nortriptyline Hydrochloride Indications and Usage
Nortriptyline hydrochloride is indicated for the relief of symptoms of depression.
Endogenous depressions are more likely to be alleviated than are other depressive states.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
The use of MAOIs intended to treat psychiatric disorders with nortriptyline hydrochloride or within 14 days of stopping treatment with nortriptyline hydrochloride is contraindicated because of an increased risk of serotonin syndrome. The use of nortriptyline hydrochloride within 14 days of stopping an MAOI intended to treat psychiatric disorders is also contraindicated ( see WARNINGS and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Starting nortriptyline hydrochloride in a patient who is being treated with MAOIs such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue is also contraindicated because of an increased risk of serotonin syndrome ( see WARNINGS and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Hypersensitivity to Tricyclic Antidepressants
Cross-sensitivity between nortriptyline hydrochloride and other dibenzazepines is a possibility.
Nortriptyline hydrochloride is contraindicated during the acute recovery period after myocardial infarction.
Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk
Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), both adult and pediatric, may experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence of suicidal ideation and behavior (suicidality) or unusual changes in behavior, whether or not they are taking antidepressant medications, and this risk may persist until significant remission occurs. Suicide is a known risk of depression and certain other psychiatric disorders, and these disorders themselves are the strongest predictors of suicide. There has been a long-standing concern, however, that antidepressants may have a role in inducing worsening of depression and the emergence of suicidality in certain patients during the early phases of treatment. Pooled analyses of short-term placebo-controlled trials of antidepressant drugs (SSRIs and others) showed that these drugs increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 18 to 24) with major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Short-term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24; there was a reduction with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older.
The pooled analyses of placebo-controlled trials in children and adolescents with MDD, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 24 short-term trials of 9 antidepressant drugs in over 4400 patients. The pooled analyses of placebo-controlled trials in adults with MDD or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 295 short-term trials (median duration of 2 months) of 11 antidepressant drugs in over 77,000 patients. There was considerable variation in risk of suicidality among drugs, but a tendency toward an increase in the younger patients for almost all drugs studied. There were differences in absolute risk of suicidality across the different indications, with the highest incidence in MDD. The risk differences (drug vs. placebo), however, were relatively stable within age strata and across indications. These risk differences (drug-placebo difference in the number of cases of suicidality per 1000 patients treated) are provided in Table 1.
|Age Range||Drug-Placebo Difference in Number of Cases of Suicidality per 1000 Patients Treated|
|Increases Compared to Placebo|
|<18||14 additional cases|
|18-24||5 additional cases|
|Decreases Compared to Placebo|
|25-64||1 fewer case|
|≥65||6 fewer cases|
No suicides occurred in any of the pediatric trials. There were suicides in the adult trials, but the number was not sufficient to reach any conclusion about drug effect on suicide.
It is unknown whether the suicidality risk extends to longer-term use, i.e., beyond several months. However, there is substantial evidence from placebo-controlled maintenance trials in adults with depression that the use of antidepressants can delay the recurrence of depression.
All patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy, or at times of dose changes, either increases or decreases.
The following symptoms, anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania, have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric. Although a causal link between the emergence of such symptoms and either the worsening of depression and/or the emergence of suicidal impulses has not been established, there is concern that such symptoms may represent precursors to emerging suicidality.
Consideration should be given to changing the therapeutic regimen, including possibly discontinuing the medication, in patients whose depression is persistently worse, or who are experiencing emergent suicidality or symptoms that might be precursors to worsening depression or suicidality, especially if these symptoms are severe, abrupt in onset, or were not part of the patient’s presenting symptoms.
Families and caregivers of patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder or other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric, should be alerted about the need to monitor patients for the emergence of agitation, irritability, unusual changes in behavior, and the other symptoms described above, as well as the emergence of suicidality, and to report such symptoms immediately to health care providers. Such monitoring should include daily observation by families and caregivers. Prescriptions for nortriptyline hydrochloride should be written for the smallest quantity of capsules consistent with good patient management, in order to reduce the risk of overdose.
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