Prescribers or other health professionals should inform patients, their families, and their caregivers about the benefits and risks associated with treatment with sertraline hydrochloride and should counsel them in its appropriate use. A patient Medication Guide about “Antidepressant Medicines, Depression and other Serious Mental Illness, and Suicidal Thoughts or Actions: is available for sertraline hydrochloride. The prescriber or health professional should instruct patients, their families, and their caregivers to read the Medication Guide and should assist them in understanding its contents. Patients should be given the opportunity to discuss the contents of the Medication Guide and to obtain answers to any questions they may have. The complete text of the Medication Guide is reprinted at the end of this document.
Patients should be advised of the following issues and asked to alert their prescriber if these occur while taking sertraline hydrochloride.
Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk:
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 cautioned about the risk of serotonin syndrome with the concomitant use of SNRIs and SSRIs, including sertraline hydrochloride, and triptans, tramadol, or other serotonergic agents.
Patients should be advised that taking sertraline hydrochloride can cause mild pupillary dilation, which in susceptible individuals, can lead to an episode of angle closure glaucoma. Pre-existing glaucoma is almost always open-angle glaucoma because angle closure glaucoma, when diagnosed, can be treated definitively with iridectomy. Open-angle glaucoma is not a risk factor for angle closure glaucoma. Patients may wish to be examined to determine whether they are susceptible to angle closure, and have a prophylactic procedure (e.g., iridectomy), if they are susceptible.
Patients should be told that although sertraline hydrochloride 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 hydrochloride 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 hydrochloride and NSAIDs, aspirin, warfarin, or other drugs that affect coagulation since 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 hydrochloride 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 hydrochloride and alcohol is not advised.
Patients should be told that while no adverse interaction of sertraline hydrochloride 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.
False-positive urine immunoassay screening tests for benzodiazepines have been reported in patients taking sertraline. This is due to lack of specificity of the screening tests. False-positive test results may be expected for several days following discontinuation of sertraline therapy. Confirmatory tests, such as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, will distinguish sertraline from benzodiazepines.
Potential Effects of Coadministration of Drugs Highly Bound to Plasma Proteins– 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 hydrochloride by other tightly bound drugs.
In a study comparing prothrombin time AUC (0 to 120 hr) following dosing with warfarin (0.75 mg/kg) before and after 21 days of dosing with either sertraline hydrochloride (50 to 200 mg/day) or placebo, there was a mean increase in prothrombin time of 8% relative to baseline for sertraline hydrochloride compared to a 1% decrease for placebo (p<0.02). The normalization of prothrombin time for the sertraline hydrochloride 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 hydrochloride therapy is initiated or stopped.
Cimetidine– In a study assessing disposition of sertraline hydrochloride (100 mg) on the second of 8 days of cimetidine administration (800 mg daily), there were significant increases in sertraline hydrochloride mean AUC (50%), Cmax (24%) and half-life (26%) compared to the placebo group. The clinical significance of these changes is unknown.
CNS Active Drugs– In a study comparing the disposition of intravenously administered diazepam before and after 21 days of dosing with either sertraline hydrochloride (50 to 200 mg/day escalating dose) or placebo, there was a 32% decrease relative to baseline in diazepam clearance for the sertraline hydrochloride 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 hydrochloride 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 hydrochloride 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 hydrochloride 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.) co-administration 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 hydrochloride 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 hydrochloride 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 hydrochloride 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 hydrochloride therapy with appropriate adjustments to the valproate dose.
The risk of using sertraline hydrochloride in combination with other CNS active drugs has not been systematically evaluated. Consequently, caution is advised if the concomitant administration of sertraline hydrochloride 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 hydrochloride. 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.
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