Patients, their families, and their caregivers should be encouraged to be alert to the emergence of anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, mania, other unusual changes in behavior, worsening of depression, and suicidal ideation, especially early during antidepressant treatment and when the dose is adjusted up or down. Families and caregivers of patients should be advised to look for the emergence of such symptoms on a day-to-day basis, since changes may be abrupt. Such symptoms should be reported to the patient’s prescriber or health professional, especially if they are severe, abrupt in onset, or were not part of the patient’s presenting symptoms. Symptoms such as these may be associated with an increased risk for suicidal thinking and behavior and indicate a need for very close monitoring and possibly changes in the medication.
Patients should be told that although sertraline has not been shown to impair the ability of normal subjects to perform tasks requiring complex motor and mental skills in laboratory experiments, drugs that act upon the central nervous system may affect some individuals adversely. Therefore, patients should be told that until they learn how they respond to sertraline they should be careful doing activities when they need to be alert, such as driving a car or operating machinery.
Patients should be cautioned about the concomitant use of sertraline and non-selective NSAIDs (i.e., NSAIDs that inhibit both cyclooxygenase isoenzymes, COX 1 and 2), aspirin, or other drugs that affect coagulation since the combined use of psychotropic drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake and these agents has been associated with an increased risk of bleeding.
Patients should be told that although sertraline has not been shown in experiments with normal subjects to increase the mental and motor skill impairments caused by alcohol, the concomitant use of sertraline and alcohol is not advised.
Patients should be told that while no adverse interaction of sertraline with over-the-counter (OTC) drug products is known to occur, the potential for interaction exists. Thus, the use of any OTC product should be initiated cautiously according to the directions of use given for the OTC product.
Patients should be advised to notify their physician if they become pregnant or intend to become pregnant during therapy.
Patients should be advised to notify their physician if they are breast feeding an infant.
Because sertraline is tightly bound to plasma protein, the administration of sertraline hydrochloride to a patient taking another drug which is tightly bound to protein (e.g., warfarin, digitoxin) may cause a shift in plasma concentrations potentially resulting in an adverse effect. Conversely, adverse effects may result from displacement of protein bound sertraline by other tightly bound drugs.
In a study comparing prothrombin time AUC(0-120 hr) following dosing with warfarin (0.75 mg/kg) before and after 21 days of dosing with either sertraline (50 to 200 mg/day) or placebo, there was a mean increase in prothrombin time of 8% relative to baseline for sertraline compared to a 1% decrease for placebo (p < 0.02). The normalization of prothrombin time for the sertraline group was delayed compared to the placebo group. The clinical significance of this change is unknown. Accordingly, prothrombin time should be carefully monitored when sertraline therapy is initiated or stopped.
In a study assessing disposition of sertraline (100 mg) on the second of 8 days of cimetidine administration (800 mg daily), there were significant increases in sertraline mean AUC (50%), Cmax (24%) and half-life (26%) compared to the placebo group. The clinical significance of these changes is unknown.
In a study comparing the disposition of intravenously administered diazepam before and after 21 days of dosing with either sertraline (50 to 200 mg/day escalating dose) or placebo, there was a 32% decrease relative to baseline in diazepam clearance for the sertraline group compared to a 19% decrease relative to baseline for the placebo group (p < 0.03). There was a 23% increase in Tmax for desmethyldiazepam in the sertraline group compared to a 20% decrease in the placebo group (p < 0.03). The clinical significance of these changes is unknown.
In a placebo-controlled trial in normal volunteers, the administration of two doses of sertraline did not significantly alter steady-state lithium levels or the renal clearance of lithium.
Nonetheless, at this time, it is recommended that plasma lithium levels be monitored following initiation of sertraline therapy with appropriate adjustments to the lithium dose.
In a controlled study of a single dose (2 mg) of pimozide, 200 mg sertraline (q.d.) coadministration to steady state was associated with a mean increase in pimozide AUC and Cmax of about 40%, but was not associated with any changes in EKG. Since the highest recommended pimozide dose (10 mg) has not been evaluated in combination with sertraline, the effect on QT interval and PK parameters at doses higher than 2 mg at this time are not known. While the mechanism of this interaction is unknown, due to the narrow therapeutic index of pimozide and due to the interaction noted at a low dose of pimozide, concomitant administration of sertraline and pimozide should be contraindicated (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
Results of a placebo-controlled trial in normal volunteers suggest that chronic administration of sertraline 200 mg/day does not produce clinically important inhibition of phenytoin metabolism. Nonetheless, at this time, it is recommended that plasma phenytoin concentrations be monitored following initiation of sertraline therapy with appropriate adjustments to the phenytoin dose, particularly in patients with multiple underlying medical conditions and/or those receiving multiple concomitant medications.
The effect of sertraline on valproate levels has not been evaluated in clinical trials. In the absence of such data, it is recommended that plasma valproate levels be monitored following initiation of sertraline therapy with appropriate adjustments to the valproate dose.
The risk of using sertraline in combination with other CNS active drugs has not been systematically evaluated. Consequently, caution is advised if the concomitant administration of sertraline and such drugs is required.
There is limited controlled experience regarding the optimal timing of switching from other drugs effective in the treatment of major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and social anxiety disorder to sertraline. Care and prudent medical judgment should be exercised when switching, particularly from long-acting agents. The duration of an appropriate washout period which should intervene before switching from one selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to another has not been established.
In three separate in vivo interaction studies, sertraline was coadministered with cytochrome P450 3A4 substrates, terfenadine, carbamazepine, or cisapride under steady-state conditions. The results of these studies indicated that sertraline did not increase plasma concentrations of terfenadine, carbamazepine, or cisapride. These data indicate that sertraline’s extent of inhibition of P450 3A4 activity is not likely to be of clinical significance. Results of the interaction study with cisapride indicate that sertraline 200 mg (q.d.) induces the metabolism of cisapride (cisapride AUC and Cmax were reduced by about 35%).
Many drugs effective in the treatment of major depressive disorder, e.g., the SSRIs, including sertraline, and most tricyclic antidepressant drugs effective in the treatment of major depressive disorder inhibit the biochemical activity of the drug metabolizing isozyme cytochrome P450 2D6 (debrisoquin hydroxylase), and, thus, may increase the plasma concentrations of coadministered drugs that are metabolized by P450 2D6. The drugs for which this potential interaction is of greatest concern are those metabolized primarily by 2D6 and which have a narrow therapeutic index, e.g., the tricyclic antidepressant drugs effective in the treatment of major depressive disorder and the Type 1C antiarrhythmics propafenone and flecainide. The extent to which this interaction is an important clinical problem depends on the extent of the inhibition of P450 2D6 by the antidepressant and the therapeutic index of the coadministered drug. There is variability among the drugs effective in the treatment of major depressive disorder in the extent of clinically important 2D6 inhibition, and in fact sertraline at lower doses has a less prominent inhibitory effect on 2D6 than some others in the class. Nevertheless, even sertraline has the potential for clinically important 2D6 inhibition. Consequently, concomitant use of a drug metabolized by P450 2D6 with sertraline may require lower doses than usually prescribed for the other drug. Furthermore, whenever sertraline is withdrawn from co-therapy, an increased dose of the coadministered drug may be required (see Tricyclic Antidepressant Drugs Effective in the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (TCAs)under PRECAUTIONS).
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