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 paroxetine tablets are not approved for use in treating bipolar depression.
The development of a potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome has been reported with SNRIs and SSRIs, including paroxetine, 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 paroxetine with MAOIs intended to treat psychiatric disorders is contraindicated. Paroxetine 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 paroxetine. Paroxetine should be discontinued before initiating treatment with the MAOI (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
If concomitant use of paroxetine with certain other serotonergic drugs, i.e., triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, buspirone, tryptophan, amphetamines, and St. John’s Wort is clinically warranted, be aware of a potential increased risk for serotonin syndrome, particularly during treatment initiation and dose increases.
Treatment with paroxetine and any concomitant serotonergic agents should be discontinued immediately if the above events occur and supportive symptomatic treatment should be initiated.
Angle-Closure Glaucoma: The pupillary dilation that occurs following use of many antidepressant drugs including paroxetine may trigger an angle closure attack in a patient with anatomically narrow angles who does not have a patent iridectomy.
Thioridazine administration alone produces prolongation of the QTc interval, which is associated with serious ventricular arrhythmias, such as torsade de pointes-type arrhythmias, and sudden death. This effect appears to be dose related.
An in vivo study suggests that drugs which inhibit CYP2D6, such as paroxetine, will elevate plasma levels of thioridazine. Therefore, it is recommended that paroxetine not be used in combination with thioridazine (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and PRECAUTIONS).
Epidemiological studies have shown that infants exposed to paroxetine in the first trimester of pregnancy have an increased risk of congenital malformations, particularly cardiovascular malformations. The findings from these studies are summarized below:
- A study based on Swedish national registry data demonstrated that infants exposed to paroxetine during pregnancy (n = 815) had an increased risk of cardiovascular malformations (2% risk in paroxetine-exposed infants) compared to the entire registry population (1% risk), for an odds ratio (OR) of 1.8 (95% confidence interval 1.1 to 2.8). No increase in the risk of overall congenital malformations was seen in the paroxetine-exposed infants. The cardiac malformations in the paroxetine-exposed infants were primarily ventricular septal defects (VSDs) and atrial septal defects (ASDs). Septal defects range in severity from those that resolve spontaneously to those which require surgery.
- A separate retrospective cohort study from the United States (United Healthcare data) evaluated 5,956 infants of mothers dispensed antidepressants during the first trimester (n = 815 for paroxetine). This study showed a trend towards an increased risk for cardiovascular malformations for paroxetine (risk of 1.5%) compared to other antidepressants (risk of 1%), for an OR of 1.5 (95% confidence interval 0.8 to 2.9). Of the 12 paroxetine-exposed infants with cardiovascular malformations, 9 had VSDs. This study also suggested an increased risk of overall major congenital malformations including cardiovascular defects for paroxetine (4% risk) compared to other (2% risk) antidepressants (OR 1.8; 95% confidence interval 1.2 to 2.8).
- Two large case-control studies using separate databases, each with > 9,000 birth defect cases and > 4,000 controls, found that maternal use of paroxetine during the first trimester of pregnancy was associated with a 2- to 3-fold increased risk of right ventricular outflow tract obstructions. In one study the odds ratio was 2.5 (95% confidence interval, 1 to 6, 7 exposed infants) and in the other study the odds ratio was 3.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.3 to 8.8, 6 exposed infants).
Other studies have found varying results as to whether there was an increased risk of overall, cardiovascular, or specific congenital malformations. A meta-analysis of epidemiological data over a 16-year period (1992 to 2008) on first trimester paroxetine use in pregnancy and congenital malformations included the above-noted studies in addition to others (n = 17 studies that included overall malformations and n = 14 studies that included cardiovascular malformations; n = 20 distinct studies). While subject to limitations, this meta-analysis suggested an increased occurrence of cardiovascular malformations (prevalence odds ratio [POR] 1.5; 95% confidence interval 1.2 to 1.9) and overall malformations (POR 1.2; 95% confidence interval 1.1 to 1.4) with paroxetine use during the first trimester. It was not possible in this meta-analysis to determine the extent to which the observed prevalence of cardiovascular malformations might have contributed to that of overall malformations, nor was it possible to determine whether any specific types of cardiovascular malformations might have contributed to the observed prevalence of all cardiovascular malformations.
If a patient becomes pregnant while taking paroxetine, she should be advised of the potential harm to the fetus. Unless the benefits of paroxetine to the mother justify continuing treatment, consideration should be given to either discontinuing paroxetine therapy or switching to another antidepressant (see PRECAUTIONS: Discontinuation of Treatment With Paroxetine Tablets). For women who intend to become pregnant or are in their first trimester of pregnancy, paroxetine should only be initiated after consideration of the other available treatment options.
Reproduction studies were performed at doses up to 50 mg/kg/day in rats and 6 mg/kg/day in rabbits administered during organogenesis. These doses are approximately 8 (rat) and 2 (rabbit) times the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) on an mg/m2 basis. These studies have revealed no evidence of teratogenic effects. However, in rats, there was an increase in pup deaths during the first 4 days of lactation when dosing occurred during the last trimester of gestation and continued throughout lactation. This effect occurred at a dose of 1 mg/kg/day or approximately one-sixth of the MRHD on an mg/m2 basis. The no-effect dose for rat pup mortality was not determined. The cause of these deaths is not known.
Neonates exposed to paroxetine tablets and other SSRIs or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), late in the third trimester have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support, and tube feeding. Such complications can arise immediately upon delivery. Reported clinical findings have included respiratory distress, cyanosis, apnea, seizures, temperature instability, feeding difficulty, vomiting, hypoglycemia, hypotonia, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, tremor, jitteriness, irritability, and constant crying. These features are consistent with either a direct toxic effect of SSRIs and SNRIs or, possibly, a drug discontinuation syndrome. It should be noted that, in some cases, the clinical picture is consistent with serotonin syndrome (see WARNINGS— Serotonin Syndrome).
Infants exposed to SSRIs in pregnancy may have an increased risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). PPHN occurs in 1 – 2 per 1,000 live births in the general population and is associated with substantial neonatal morbidity and mortality. Several recent epidemiologic studies suggest a positive statistical association between SSRI use (including paroxetine) in pregnancy and PPHN. Other studies do not show a significant statistical association.
Physicians should also note the results of a prospective longitudinal study of 201 pregnant women with a history of major depression, who were either on antidepressants or had received antidepressants less than 12 weeks prior to their last menstrual period, and were in remission. Women who discontinued antidepressant medication during pregnancy showed a significant increase in relapse of their major depression compared to those women who remained on antidepressant medication throughout pregnancy.
When treating a pregnant woman with paroxetine, the physician should carefully consider both the potential risks of taking an SSRI, along with the established benefits of treating depression with an antidepressant. This decision can only be made on a case by case basis (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and ADVERSE REACTIONS: Postmarketing Reports).
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