Nortriptyline Hydrochloride

NORTRIPTYLINE HYDROCHLORIDE- nortriptyline hydrochloride capsule
Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.

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).

DESCRIPTION

Nortriptyline hydrochloride, USP is 1-propanamine, 3-(10,11-dihydro-5H -dibenzo[a,d ]cyclohepten-5-ylidene)-N -methyl-, hydrochloride.

The structural formula is as follows:

chemical structure
(click image for full-size original)

C19 H21 N•HCl M.W. 299.84

Nortriptyline hydrochloride, USP is a white to off-white powder, having a slight, characteristic odor. It is soluble in water and in chloroform; sparingly soluble in methanol; and practically insoluble in most organic solvents.

Each capsule, for oral administration, contains nortriptyline hydrochloride, USP equivalent to 10 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg or 75 mg nortriptyline.

In addition, each capsule contains the following inactive ingredients: corn starch, dimethicone, gelatin, iron oxide black, potassium hydroxide, propylene glycol, shellac glaze, sodium lauryl sulfate, strong ammonia solution, and titanium dioxide. The 10 mg, 25 mg and 75 mg capsules also contain D&C yellow #10, FD&C blue #1, and FD&C yellow #6.

CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY

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.

INDICATIONS AND USAGE

Nortriptyline hydrochloride capsules are indicated for the relief of symptoms of depression. Endogenous depressions are more likely to be alleviated than are other depressive states.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

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 WARNINGSand 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 WARNINGSand DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Hypersensitivity to Tricyclic Antidepressants

Cross-sensitivity between nortriptyline hydrochloride and other dibenzazepines is a possibility.

Myocardial Infarction

Nortriptyline hydrochloride is contraindicated during the acute recovery period after myocardial infarction.

WARNINGS

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.

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 to 24

5 additional cases

Decreases Compared to Placebo

25 to 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.

Screening Patients for Bipolar Disorder — A major depressive episode may be the initial presentation of bipolar disorder. It is generally believed (though not established in controlled trials) that treating such an episode with an antidepressant alone may increase the likelihood of precipitation of a mixed/manic episode in patients at risk for bipolar disorder. Whether any of the symptoms described above represent such a conversion is unknown. However, prior to initiating treatment with an antidepressant, patients with depressive symptoms should be adequately screened to determine if they are at risk for bipolar disorder; such screening should include a detailed psychiatric history, including a family history of suicide, bipolar disorder, and depression. It should be noted that nortriptyline hydrochloride is not approved for use in treating bipolar depression.

Patients with cardiovascular disease should be given nortriptyline hydrochloride only under close supervision because of the tendency of the drug to produce sinus tachycardia and to prolong the conduction time. Myocardial infarction, arrhythmia, and strokes have occurred. The antihypertensive action of guanethidine and similar agents may be blocked. Because of its anticholinergic activity, nortriptyline hydrochloride should be used with great caution in patients who have a history of urinary retention. Patients with a history of seizures should be followed closely when nortriptyline hydrochloride is administered, inasmuch as this drug is known to lower the convulsive threshold. Great care is required if nortriptyline hydrochloride is given to hyperthyroid patients or to those receiving thyroid medication, since cardiac arrhythmias may develop.

Nortriptyline hydrochloride may impair the mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of hazardous tasks, such as operating machinery or driving a car; therefore, the patient should be warned accordingly.

Excessive consumption of alcohol in combination with nortriptyline therapy may have a potentiating effect, which may lead to the danger of increased suicidal attempts or overdosage, especially in patients with histories of emotional disturbances or suicidal ideation.

The concomitant administration of quinidine and nortriptyline may result in a significantly longer plasma half-life, higher AUC, and lower clearance of nortriptyline.

Serotonin Syndrome

The development of a potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome has been reported with SNRIs and SSRIs, including nortriptyline hydrochloride, alone but particularly with concomitant use of other serotonergic drugs (including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, tryptophan, buspirone, 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 changes (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 nortriptyline hydrochloride with MAOIs intended to treat psychiatric disorders is contraindicated. Nortriptyline hydrochloride 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 nortriptyline hydrochloride. Nortriptyline hydrochloride should be discontinued before initiating treatment with the MAOI (see CONTRAINDICATIONSand DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

If concomitant use of nortriptyline hydrochloride with other serotonergic drugs, including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, buspirone, tryptophan, 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 nortriptyline hydrochloride and any concomitant serotonergic agents should be discontinued immediately if the above events occur and supportive symptomatic treatment should be initiated.

Unmasking of Brugada Syndrome

There have been postmarketing reports of an association between treatment with nortriptyline hydrochloride and the unmasking of Brugada syndrome. Brugada syndrome is a disorder characterized by syncope, abnormal electrocardiographic (ECG) findings, and a risk of sudden death. Nortriptyline hydrochloride should generally be avoided in patients with Brugada syndrome or those suspected of having Brugada syndrome.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

The pupillary dilation that occurs following use of many antidepressant drugs including nortriptyline hydrochloride may trigger an angle-closure attack in a patient with anatomically narrow angles who does not have a patent iridectomy.

Use in Pregnancy

Safe use of nortriptyline hydrochloride during pregnancy and lactation has not been established; therefore, when the drug is administered to pregnant patients, nursing mothers, or women of childbearing potential, the potential benefits must be weighed against the possible hazards. Animal reproduction studies have yielded inconclusive results.

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