Based on the mechanism of action of SNRIs and SSRIs, including venlafaxine hydrochloride, and the potential for serotonin syndrome, caution is advised when venlafaxine is coadministered with other drugs that may affect the serotonergic neurotransmitter systems, such as triptans, lithium, fentanyl, tramadol, amphetamines, or St. John’s Wort (see WARNINGS: Serotonin Syndrome). If concomitant treatment of venlafaxine hydrochloride with these drugs is clinically warranted, careful observation of the patient is advised, particularly during treatment initiation and dose increases (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and WARNINGS,Serotonin Syndrome). The concomitant use of venlafaxine hydrochloride with tryptophan supplements is not recommended (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and WARNINGS,Serotonin Syndrome).
There have been rare postmarketing reports of serotonin syndrome with use of an SSRI and a triptan. If concomitant treatment of venlafaxine hydrochloride with a triptan is clinically warranted, careful observation of the patient is advised, particularly during treatment initiation and dose increases (see WARNINGS, Serotonin Syndrome).
False-positive urine immunoassay screening tests for phencyclidine (PCP) and amphetamine have been reported in patients taking venlafaxine. This is due to lack of specificity of the screening tests. False positive test results may be expected for several days following discontinuation of venlafaxine therapy. Confirmatory tests, such as gas chromatography/ mass spectrometry, will distinguish venlafaxine from PCP and amphetamine.
There are no clinical data establishing the benefit of electroconvulsive therapy combined with venlafaxine hydrochloride treatment.
Venlafaxine was given by oral gavage to mice for 18 months at doses up to 120 mg/kg per day, which was 16 times, on a mg/kg basis, and 1.7 times on a mg/m 2 basis, the maximum recommended human dose. Venlafaxine was also given to rats by oral gavage for 24 months at doses up to 120 mg/kg per day. In rats receiving the 120 mg/kg dose, plasma levels of venlafaxine were 1 times (male rats) and 6 times (female rats) the plasma levels of patients receiving the maximum recommended human dose. Plasma levels of the O-desmethyl metabolite were lower in rats than in patients receiving the maximum recommended dose. Tumors were not increased by venlafaxine treatment in mice or rats.
Venlafaxine and the major human metabolite, O-desmethylvenlafaxine (ODV), were not mutagenic in the Ames reverse mutation assay in Salmonella bacteria or the CHO/HGPRT mammalian cell forward gene mutation assay. Venlafaxine was also not mutagenic in the in vitro BALB/c-3T3 mouse cell transformation assay, the sister chromatid exchange assay in cultured CHO cells, or the in vivo chromosomal aberration assay in rat bone marrow. ODV was not mutagenic in the in vitro CHO cell chromosomal aberration assay. There was a clastogenic response in the in vivo chromosomal aberration assay in rat bone marrow in male rats receiving 200 times, on a mg/kg basis, or 50 times, on a mg/m 2 basis, the maximum human daily dose. The no effect dose was 67 times (mg/kg) or 17 times (mg/m 2) the human dose.
Reproduction and fertility studies of venlafaxine in rats showed no adverse effects on male or female fertility at oral doses of up to 2 times the maximum recommended human dose of 225 mg/day on a mg/m 2 basis. However, reduced fertility was observed in a study in which male and female rats were treated with O-desmethylvenlafaxine (ODV), the major human metabolite of venlafaxine, prior to and during mating and gestation. This occurred at an ODV exposure (AUC) approximately 2 to 3 times that associated with a human venlafaxine dose of 225 mg/day.
Pregnancy Category C Venlafaxine did not cause malformations in offspring of rats or rabbits given doses up to 11 times (rat) or 12 times (rabbit) the maximum recommended human daily dose on a mg/kg basis, or 2.5 times (rat) and 4 times (rabbit) the human daily dose on a mg/m 2 basis. However, in rats, there was a decrease in pup weight, an increase in stillborn pups, and an increase in pup deaths during the first 5 days of lactation, when dosing began during pregnancy and continued until weaning. The cause of these deaths is not known. These effects occurred at 10 times (mg/kg) or 2.5 times (mg/m 2) the maximum human daily dose. The no effect dose for rat pup mortality was 1.4 times the human dose on a mg/kg basis or 0.25 times the human dose on a mg/m 2 basis. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, this drug should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.
Neonates exposed to venlafaxine hydrochloride, other SNRIs (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors), or SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), late in the third trimester have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support, and tube feeding. Such complications can arise immediately upon delivery. Reported clinical findings have included respiratory distress, cyanosis, apnea, seizures, temperature instability, feeding difficulty, vomiting, hypoglycemia, hypotonia, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, tremor, jitteriness, irritability, and constant crying. These features are consistent with either a direct toxic effect of SSRIs and SNRIs or, possibly, a drug discontinuation syndrome. It should be noted that, in some cases, the clinical picture is consistent with serotonin syndrome (see PRECAUTIONS-Drug Interactions-CNS-Active Drugs). When treating a pregnant woman with venlafaxine hydrochloride during the third trimester, the physician should carefully consider the potential risks and benefits of treatment (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
The effect of venlafaxine hydrochloride on labor and delivery in humans is unknown.
Venlafaxine and ODV have been reported to be excreted in human milk. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from venlafaxine hydrochloride, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.
Safety and effectiveness in the pediatric population have not been established (see
BOX WARNING and
WARNINGS, Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk). Two placebo-controlled trials in 766 pediatric patients with MDD and two placebo-controlled trials in 793 pediatric patients with GAD have been conducted with venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules, and the data were not sufficient to support a claim for use in pediatric patients.
Anyone considering the use of venlafaxine hydrochloride in a child or adolescent must balance the potential risks with the clinical need.
Although no studies have been designed to primarily assess venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsule’s impact on the growth, development, and maturation of children and adolescents, the studies that have been done suggest that venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules may adversely affect weight and height (see PRECAUTIONS, General, Changes in Height and Changes in Weight). Should the decision be made to treat a pediatric patient with venlafaxine hydrochloride, regular monitoring of weight and height is recommended during treatment, particularly if it is to be continued long term. The safety of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsule treatment for pediatric patients has not been systematically assessed for chronic treatment longer than six months in duration. In the studies conducted in pediatric patients (ages 6 to 17), the occurrence of blood pressure and cholesterol increases considered to be clinically relevant in pediatric patients was similar to that observed in adult patients. Consequently, the precautions for adults apply to pediatric patients (see WARNINGS, Sustained Hypertension, and PRECAUTIONS, General, Serum Cholesterol Elevation).
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