Adverse events most often associated with the use of topiramate were related to the central nervous system and were observed in the epilepsy population. In adults, the most frequent of these can be classified into three general categories: 1) Cognitive-related dysfunction (e.g. confusion, psychomotor slowing, difficulty with concentration/attention, difficulty with memory, speech or language problems, particularly word-finding difficulties); 2) Psychiatric/behavioral disturbances (e.g. depression or mood problems); and 3) Somnolence or fatigue.
The majority of cognitive-related adverse events were mild to moderate in severity, and they frequently occurred in isolation. Rapid titration rate and higher initial dose were associated with higher incidences of these events. Many of these events contributed to withdrawal from treatment [see ADVERSE REACTIONS, Table 5 and Table 7].
In the original add-on epilepsy controlled trials (using rapid titration such as 100 to 200 mg/day weekly increments), the proportion of patients who experienced one or more cognitive-related adverse events was 42% for 200 mg/day, 41% for 400 mg/day, 52% for 600 mg/day, 56% for 800 and 1000 mg/day, and 14% for placebo. These dose-related adverse reactions began with a similar frequency in the titration or in the maintenance phase, although in some patients the events began during titration and persisted into the maintenance phase. Some patients who experienced one or more cognitive-related adverse events in the titration phase had a dose-related recurrence of these events in the maintenance phase.
In the monotherapy epilepsy controlled trial, the proportion of patients who experienced one or more cognitive-related adverse events was 19% for topiramate 50 mg/day and 26% for 400 mg/day.
Psychiatric/behavioral disturbances (depression or mood problems) were dose-related for the epilepsy population.
Somnolence and fatigue were the adverse events most frequently reported during clinical trials of topiramate for adjunctive epilepsy. For the adjunctive epilepsy population, the incidence of somnolence did not differ substantially between 200 mg/day and 1000 mg/day, but the incidence of fatigue was dose-related and increased at dosages above 400 mg/day. For the monotherapy epilepsy population in the 50 mg/day and 400 mg/day groups, the incidence of somnolence was dose-related (9% for the 50 mg/day group and 15% for the 400 mg/day group) and the incidence of fatigue was comparable in both treatment groups (14% each).
Additional nonspecific CNS events commonly observed with topiramate in the add-on epilepsy population include dizziness or ataxia.
In double-blind adjunctive therapy and monotherapy epilepsy clinical studies, the incidences of cognitive/neuropsychiatric adverse events in pediatric patients were generally lower than observed in adults. These events included psychomotor slowing, difficulty with concentration/attention, speech disorders/related speech problems and language problems. The most frequently reported neuropsychiatric events in pediatric patients during adjunctive therapy double-blind studies were somnolence and fatigue. The most frequently reported neuropsychiatric events in pediatric patients in the 50 mg/day and 400 mg/day groups during the monotherapy double-blind study were headache, dizziness, anorexia, and somnolence.
No patients discontinued treatment due to any adverse events in the adjunctive epilepsy double-blind trials. In the monotherapy epilepsy double-blind trial, 1 pediatric patient (2%) in the 50 mg/day group and 7 pediatric patients (12%) in the 400 mg/day group discontinued treatment due to any adverse events. The most common adverse event associated with discontinuation of therapy was difficulty with concentration/attention; all occurred in the 400 mg/day group.
Antiepileptic drugs, including topiramate, should be withdrawn gradually to minimize the potential of increased seizure frequency.
During the course of premarketing development of topiramate tablets, 10 sudden and unexplained deaths were recorded among a cohort of treated patients (2,796 subject years of exposure). This represents an incidence of 0.0035 deaths per patient year. Although this rate exceeds that expected in a healthy population matched for age and sex, it is within the range of estimates for the incidence of sudden unexplained deaths in patients with epilepsy not receiving topiramate (ranging from 0.0005 for the general population of patients with epilepsy, to 0.003 for a clinical trial population similar to that in the topiramate program, to 0.005 for patients with refractory epilepsy).
Concomitant administration of topiramate and valproic acid has been associated with hyperammonemia with or without encephalopathy in patients who have tolerated either drug alone. Clinical symptoms of hyperammonemic encephalopathy often include acute alterations in level of consciousness and/or cognitive function with lethargy or vomiting. In most cases, symptoms and signs abated with discontinuation of either drug. This adverse event is not due to a pharmacokinetic interaction.
It is not known if topiramate monotherapy is associated with hyperammonemia.
Patients with inborn errors of metabolism or reduced hepatic mitochondrial activity may be at an increased risk for hyperammonemia with or without encephalopathy. Although not studied, an interaction of topiramate and valproic acid may exacerbate existing defects or unmask deficiencies in susceptible persons.
In patients who develop unexplained lethargy, vomiting, or changes in mental status, hyperammonemic encephalopathy should be considered and an ammonia level should be measured.
A total of 32/2,086 (1.5%) of adults exposed to topiramate during its adjunctive epilepsy therapy development reported the occurrence of kidney stones, an incidence about 2 to 4 times greater than expected in a similar, untreated population. In the double-blind monotherapy epilepsy study, a total of 4/319 (1.3%) of adults exposed to topiramate reported the occurrence of kidney stones. As in the general population, the incidence of stone formation among topiramate treated patients was higher in men. Kidney stones have also been reported in pediatric patients.
An explanation for the association of topiramate and kidney stones may lie in the fact that topiramate is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, e.g., acetazolamide or dichlorphenamide, promote stone formation by reducing urinary citrate excretion and by increasing urinary pH. The concomitant use of topiramate with other carbonic anhydrase inhibitors or potentially in patients on a ketogenic diet may create a physiological environment that increases the risk of kidney stone formation, and should therefore be avoided.
Increased fluid intake increases the urinary output, lowering the concentration of substances involved in stone formation. Hydration is recommended to reduce new stone formation.
Paresthesia (usually tingling of the extremities), an effect associated with the use of other carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, appears to be a common effect of topiramate. Paresthesia was more frequently reported in the monotherapy epilepsy trials versus the adjunctive therapy epilepsy trials. In the majority of instances, paresthesia did not lead to treatment discontinuation.
The major route of elimination of unchanged topiramate and its metabolites is via the kidney. Dosage adjustment may be required in patients with reduced renal function (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
In hepatically impaired patients, topiramate should be administered with caution as the clearance of topiramate may be decreased.
Patients and their caregivers should be informed of the availability of a Medication Guide, and they should be instructed to read the Medication Guide prior to taking topiramate tablets. Patients should be instructed to take topiramate tablets only as prescribed.
Patients taking topiramate should be told to seek immediate medical attention if they experience blurred vision or periorbital pain.
Patients, especially pediatric patients, treated with topiramate should be monitored closely for evidence of decreased sweating and increased body temperature, especially in hot weather.
Patients, their caregivers, and families should be counseled that AEDs, including topiramate, may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior and should be advised of the need to be alert for the emergence or worsening of symptoms of depression, any unusual changes in mood or behavior or the emergence of suicidal thoughts, behavior or thoughts about self-harm. Behaviors of concern should be reported immediately to healthcare providers.
Patients, particularly those with predisposing factors, should be instructed to maintain an adequate fluid intake in order to minimize the risk of renal stone formation (see PRECAUTIONS: Kidney Stones, for support regarding hydration as a preventative measure).
Patients should be warned about the potential for somnolence, dizziness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating, and advised not to drive or operate machinery until they have gained sufficient experience on topiramate to gauge whether it adversely affects their mental performance and/or motor performance.
Additional food intake may be considered if the patient is losing weight while on this medication.
Patients should be encouraged to enroll in the North American Antiepileptic Drug (NAAED) Pregnancy Registry if they become pregnant. This registry is collecting information about the safety of antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy. To enroll, patients can call the toll free number, 1-888-233-2334 (see PRECAUTIONS: Pregnancy: Pregnancy Category C).
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