Valproate was administered orally to rats and mice at doses of 80 and 170 mg/kg/day (less than the maximum recommended human dose on a mg/m2 basis) for two years. The primary findings were an increase in the incidence of subcutaneous fibrosarcomas in high-dose male rats receiving valproate and a dose-related trend for benign pulmonary adenomas in male mice receiving valproate.
Valproate was not mutagenic in an in vitro bacterial assay (Ames test), did not produce dominant lethal effects in mice, and did not increase chromosome aberration frequency in an in vivo cytogenetic study in rats. Increased frequencies of sister chromatid exchange (SCE) have been reported in a study of epileptic children taking valproate; this association was not observed in another study conducted in adults.
Impairment of Fertility
In chronic toxicity studies in juvenile and adult rats and dogs, administration of valproate resulted in testicular atrophy and reduced spermatogenesis at oral doses of 400 mg/kg/day or greater in rats (approximately equal to or greater than the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) on a mg/m2 basis) and 150 mg/kg/day or greater in dogs (approximately equal to or greater than the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis). Fertility studies in rats have shown no effect on fertility at oral doses of valproate up to 350 mg/kg/day (approximately equal to the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis) for 60 days.
The studies described in the following section were conducted using divalproex sodium-tablets.
The efficacy of divalproex sodium in reducing the incidence of complex partial seizures (CPS) that occur in isolation or in association with other seizure types was established in two controlled trials.
In one, multi-clinic, placebo controlled study employing an add-on design (adjunctive therapy), 144 patients who continued to suffer eight or more CPS per 8 weeks during an 8 week period of monotherapy with doses of either carbamazepine or phenytoin sufficient to assure plasma concentrations within the “therapeutic range” were randomized to receive, in addition to their original antiepilepsy drug (AED), either divalproex sodium or placebo. Randomized patients were to be followed for a total of 16 weeks. The following table presents the findings.Table 5. Adjunctive Therapy Study Median Incidence of CPS per 8 Weeks
|Add-on Treatment||Number of Patients||Baseline Incidence||Experimental Incidence|
|Divalproex Sodium Tablets||75||16.0||8.9*|
|* Reduction from baseline statistically significantly greater for divalproex sodium than placebo at p ≤ 0.05 level.|
Figure 1 presents the proportion of patients (X axis) whose percentage reduction from baseline in complex partial seizure rates was at least as great as that indicated on the Y axis in the adjunctive therapy study. A positive percent reduction indicates an improvement (i.e., a decrease in seizure frequency), while a negative percent reduction indicates worsening. Thus, in a display of this type, the curve for an effective treatment is shifted to the left of the curve for placebo. This figure shows that the proportion of patients achieving any particular level of improvement was consistently higher for divalproex sodium tablets than for placebo. For example, 45% of patients treated with divalproex sodium tablets had a ≥ 50% reduction in complex partial seizure rate compared to 23% of patients treated with placebo. Figure 1
The second study assessed the capacity of divalproex sodium to reduce the incidence of CPS when administered as the sole AED. The study compared the incidence of CPS among patients randomized to either a high or low dose treatment arm. Patients qualified for entry into the randomized comparison phase of this study only if 1) they continued to experience 2 or more CPS per 4 weeks during an 8 to 12 week long period of monotherapy with adequate doses of an AED (i.e., phenytoin, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, or primidone) and 2) they made a successful transition over a two week interval to divalproex sodium. Patients entering the randomized phase were then brought to their assigned target dose, gradually tapered off their concomitant AED and followed for an interval as long as 22 weeks. Less than 50% of the patients randomized, however, completed the study. In patients converted to divalproex sodium monotherapy, the mean total valproate concentrations during monotherapy were 71 and 123 mcg/mL in the low dose and high dose groups, respectively.
The following table presents the findings for all patients randomized who had at least one post-randomization assessment. Table 6. Monotherapy Study Median Incidence of CPS per 8 Weeks
|Treatment||Number of Patients||Baseline Incidence||Randomized Phase Incidence|
|High dose Divalproex Sodium||131||13.2||10.7*|
|Low dose Divalproex Sodium||134||14.2||13.8|
|*Reduction from baseline statistically significantly greater for high dose than low dose at p ≤ 0.05 level.|
Figure 2 presents the proportion of patients (X axis) whose percentage reduction from baseline in complex partial seizure rates was at least as great as that indicated on the Y axis in the monotherapy study. A positive percent reduction indicates an improvement (i.e., a decrease in seizure frequency), while a negative percent reduction indicates worsening. Thus, in a display of this type, the curve for a more effective treatment is shifted to the left of the curve for a less effective treatment. This figure shows that the proportion of patients achieving any particular level of reduction was consistently higher for high dose divalproex sodium than for low dose divalproex sodium. For example, when switching from carbamazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital or primidone monotherapy to high dose divalproex sodium monotherapy, 63% of patients experienced no change or a reduction in complex partial seizure rates compared to 54% of patients receiving low dose divalproex sodium. Figure 2
Information on pediatric studies is presented in section 8.
1. Meador KJ, Baker GA, Browning N, et al. Fetal antiepileptic drug exposure and cognitive outcomes at age 6 years (NEAD study): a prospective observational study. Lancet Neurology 2013; 12 (3):244-252.
Valproic acid is available as white to off-white soft gelatin capsules of 250 mg valproic acid, bearing imprint ST-l for product identification, in bottles of 100 capsules (NDC: 71930-057-12).
Store capsules at 59 to 77°F (15 to 25°C)
Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide).
Warn patients and guardians that nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, anorexia, diarrhea, asthenia, and/or jaundice can be symptoms of hepatotoxicity and, therefore, require further medical evaluation promptly [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].
Warn patients and guardians that abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or anorexia can be symptoms of pancreatitis and, therefore, require further medical evaluation promptly [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)].
Birth Defects and Decreased IQ Inform pregnant women and women of childbearing potential (including girls beginning the onset of puberty) that use of valproate during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects, decreased IQ, and neurodevelopmental disorders in children who were exposed in utero. Advise women to use effective contraception while taking valproate. When appropriate, counsel these patients about alternative therapeutic options. This is particularly important when valproate use is considered for a condition not usually associated with permanent injury or death such as prophylaxis of migraine headache [see Contraindications (4)]. Advise patients to read the Medication Guide, which appears as the last section of the labeling [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2, 5.3, 5.4) and Use in Specific Populations (8.1)].
Pregnancy Registry Advise women of childbearing potential to discuss pregnancy planning with their doctor and to contact their doctor immediately if they think they are pregnant.
Encourage women who are taking valproic acid 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 or visit the website, http://www.aedpregnancyregistry.org/ [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1)].
Suicidal Thinking and Behavior Counsel patients, their caregivers, and families that AEDs, including valproic acid capsules, may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior and 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. Instruct patients, caregivers, and families to report behaviors of concern immediately to the healthcare providers [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7)].
Hyperammonemia Inform patients of the signs and symptoms associated with hyperammonemic encephalopathy and to notify the prescriber if any of these symptoms occur [see Warnings and Precautions (5.9, 5.10)].
CNS Depression Since valproate products may produce CNS depression, especially when combined with another CNS depressant (e.g., alcohol), advise patients not to engage in hazardous activities, such as driving an automobile or operating dangerous machinery, until it is known that they do not become drowsy from the drug.
Multiorgan Hypersensitivity Reactions Instruct patients that a fever associated with other organ system involvement (rash, lymphadenopathy, etc.) may be drug-related and should be reported to the physician immediately [see Warnings and Precautions (5.12)].
Valproic acid Capsules
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