SABRIL can cause permanent vision loss. Because of this risk and because, when it is effective, SABRIL provides an observable symptomatic benefit; patient response and continued need for treatment should be periodically assessed.
Based upon adult studies, 30 percent or more of patients can be affected with bilateral concentric visual field constriction ranging in severity from mild to severe. Severe cases may be characterized by tunnel vision to within 10 degrees of visual fixation, which can result in disability. In some cases, SABRIL also can damage the central retina and may decrease visual acuity. Symptoms of vision loss from SABRIL are unlikely to be recognized by patients or caregivers before vision loss is severe. Vision loss of milder severity, while often unrecognized by the patient or caregiver, can still adversely affect function.
Because assessing vision may be difficult in infants and children, the frequency and extent of vision loss is poorly characterized in these patients. For this reason, the understanding of the risk is primarily based on the adult experience. The possibility that vision loss from SABRIL may be more common, more severe, or have more severe functional consequences in infants and children than in adults cannot be excluded.
The onset of vision loss from SABRIL is unpredictable, and can occur within weeks of starting treatment or sooner, or at any time after starting treatment, even after months or years.
The risk of vision loss increases with increasing dose and cumulative exposure, but there is no dose or exposure known to be free of risk of vision loss.
In patients with refractory complex partial seizures, SABRIL should be withdrawn if a substantial clinical benefit is not observed within 3 months of initiating treatment. If, in the clinical judgment of the prescriber, evidence of treatment failure becomes obvious earlier than 3 months, treatment should be discontinued at that time [see Dosage and Administration (2.2) and Warnings and Precautions (5.6)].
In patients with infantile spasms, SABRIL should be withdrawn if a substantial clinical benefit is not observed within 2 to 4 weeks. If, in the clinical judgment of the prescriber, evidence of treatment failure becomes obvious earlier than 2 to 4 weeks, treatment should be discontinued at that time [see Dosage and Administration (2.3) and Warnings and Precautions (5.6)].
SABRIL should not be used in patients with, or at high risk of, other types of irreversible vision loss unless the benefits of treatment clearly outweigh the risks. The interaction of other types of irreversible vision damage with vision damage from SABRIL has not been well-characterized, but is likely adverse.
SABRIL should not be used with other drugs associated with serious adverse ophthalmic effects such as retinopathy or glaucoma unless the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.
Monitoring of Vision
Monitoring of vision by an ophthalmic professional with expertise in visual field interpretation and the ability to perform dilated indirect ophthalmoscopy of the retina is recommended [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)]. Because vision testing in infants is difficult, vision loss may not be detected until it is severe. For patients receiving SABRIL, vision assessment is recommended at baseline (no later than 4 weeks after starting SABRIL), at least every 3 months while on therapy, and about 3-6 months after the discontinuation of therapy. The diagnostic approach should be individualized for the patient and clinical situation.
In adults and cooperative pediatric patients, perimetry is recommended, preferably by automated threshold visual field testing. Additional testing may also include electrophysiology (e.g., electroretinography [ERG]), retinal imaging (e.g., optical coherence tomography [OCT]), and/or other methods appropriate for the patient. In patients who cannot be tested, treatment may continue according to clinical judgment, with appropriate patient counseling. Because of variability, results from ophthalmic monitoring must be interpreted with caution, and repeat assessment is recommended if results are abnormal or uninterpretable. Repeat assessment in the first few weeks of treatment is recommended to establish if, and to what degree, reproducible results can be obtained, and to guide selection of appropriate ongoing monitoring for the patient.
The onset and progression of vision loss from SABRIL is unpredictable, and it may occur or worsen precipitously between assessments. Once detected, vision loss due to SABRIL is not reversible. It is expected that even with frequent monitoring, some SABRIL patients will develop severe vision loss. Consider drug discontinuation, balancing benefit and risk, if vision loss is documented. It is possible that vision loss can worsen despite discontinuation of SABRIL.
SABRIL is available only through a restricted distribution program called the SABRIL REMS program, because of the risk of permanent vision loss.
Notable requirements of the SABRIL REMS Program include the following:
- Prescribers must be certified by enrolling in the program, agreeing to counsel patients on the risk of vision loss and the need for periodic monitoring of vision, and reporting any event suggestive of vision loss to Lundbeck.
- Patients must enroll in the program.
- Pharmacies must be certified and must only dispense to patients authorized to receive SABRIL.
Further information is available at www.SabrilREMS.com, or call 1-888-457-4273.
Abnormal MRI signal changes characterized by increased T2 signal and restricted diffusion in a symmetric pattern involving the thalamus, basal ganglia, brain stem, and cerebellum have been observed in some infants treated with vigabatrin for infantile spasms. In a retrospective epidemiologic study in infants with IS (N=205), the prevalence of these changes was 22% in vigabatrin treated patients versus 4% in patients treated with other therapies.
In the study above, in post marketing experience, and in published literature reports, these changes generally resolved with discontinuation of treatment. In a few patients, the lesion resolved despite continued use. It has been reported that some infants exhibited coincident motor abnormalities, but no causal relationship has been established and the potential for long-term clinical sequelae has not been adequately studied.
Neurotoxicity (brain histopathology and neurobehavioral abnormalities) was observed in rats exposed to vigabatrin during late gestation and the neonatal and juvenile periods of development, and brain histopathological changes were observed in dogs exposed to vigabatrin during the juvenile period of development. The relationship between these findings and the abnormal MRI findings in infants treated with vigabatrin for infantile spasms is unknown [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4) and Use in Specific Populations (8.1)].
The specific pattern of signal changes observed in IS patients was not observed in older pediatric and adult patients treated with vigabatrin for refractory CPS. In a blinded review of MRI images obtained in prospective clinical trials in patients with refractory CPS 3 years and older (N=656), no difference was observed in anatomic distribution or prevalence of MRI signal changes between vigabatrin treated and placebo treated patients.
For adults treated with SABRIL, routine MRI surveillance is unnecessary as there is no evidence that vigabatrin causes MRI changes in this population.
Vacuolation, characterized by fluid accumulation and separation of the outer layers of myelin, has been observed in brain white matter tracts in adult and juvenile rats and adult mice, dogs, and possibly monkeys following administration of vigabatrin. This lesion, referred to as intramyelinic edema (IME), was seen in animals at doses within the human therapeutic range. A no-effect dose was not established in rodents or dogs. In the rat and dog, vacuolation was reversible following discontinuation of vigabatrin treatment, but, in the rat, pathologic changes consisting of swollen or degenerating axons, mineralization, and gliosis were seen in brain areas in which vacuolation had been previously observed. Vacuolation in adult animals was correlated with alterations in MRI and changes in visual and somatosensory evoked potentials (EP).
Administration of vigabatrin to rats during the neonatal and juvenile periods of development produced vacuolar changes in the brain gray matter (including the thalamus, midbrain, deep cerebellar nuclei, substantia nigra, hippocampus, and forebrain) which are considered distinct from the IME observed in vigabatrin treated adult animals. Decreased myelination and evidence of oligodendrocyte injury were additional findings in the brains of vigabatrin-treated rats. An increase in apoptosis was seen in some brain regions following vigabatrin exposure during the early postnatal period. Long-term neurobehavioral abnormalities (convulsions, neuromotor impairment, learning deficits) were also observed following vigabatrin treatment of young rats. Administration of vigabatrin to juvenile dogs produced vacuolar changes in the brain gray matter (including the septal nuclei, hippocampus, hypothalamus, thalamus, cerebellum, and globus pallidus). Neurobehavioral effects of vigabatrin were not assessed in the juvenile dog. These effects in young animals occurred at doses lower than those producing neurotoxicity in adult animals and were associated with plasma vigabatrin levels substantially lower than those achieved clinically in infants and children [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1, 8.4)].
In a published study, vigabatrin (200, 400 mg/kg/day) induced apoptotic neurodegeneration in the brain of young rats when administered by intraperitoneal injection on postnatal days 5-7.
Administration of vigabatrin to female rats during pregnancy and lactation at doses below those used clinically resulted in hippocampal vacuolation and convulsions in the mature offspring.
Abnormal MRI signal changes characterized by increased T2 signal and restricted diffusion in a symmetric pattern involving the thalamus, basal ganglia, brain stem, and cerebellum have been observed in some infants treated for IS with vigabatrin. Studies of the effects of vigabatrin on MRI and EP in adult epilepsy patients have demonstrated no clear-cut abnormalities [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)].
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