Clinically relevant increases in serum cholesterol were recorded in 5.3% of venlafaxine-treated patients and 0.0% of placebo-treated patients treated for at least 3 months in placebo-controlled trials (see ADVERSE REACTIONS, Laboratory Changes). Measurement of serum cholesterol levels should be considered during long-term treatment.
Interstitial lung disease and eosinophilic pneumonia associated with venlafaxine therapy have been rarely reported. The possibility of these adverse events should be considered in venlafaxine-treated patients who present with progressive dyspnea, cough or chest discomfort. Such patients should undergo a prompt medical evaluation, and discontinuation of venlafaxine therapy should be considered.
Clinical experience with venlafaxine hydrochloride in patients with concomitant systemic illness is limited. Caution is advised in administering venlafaxine hydrochloride to patients with diseases or conditions that could affect hemodynamic responses or metabolism.
Venlafaxine hydrochloride has not been evaluated or used to any appreciable extent in patients with a recent history of myocardial infarction or unstable heart disease. Patients with these diagnoses were systematically excluded from many clinical studies during the product’s premarketing testing. Evaluation of the electrocardiograms for 769 patients who received venlafaxine hydrochloride in 4 to 6 week double-blind placebo-controlled trials, however, showed that the incidence of trial-emergent conduction abnormalities did not differ from that with placebo. The mean heart rate in venlafaxine hydrochloride-treated patients was increased relative to baseline by about 4 beats per minute.
The electrocardiograms for 357 patients who received venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules and 285 patients who received placebo in 8 to 12 week double-blind, placebo-controlled trials were analyzed. The mean change from baseline in corrected QT interval (QTc ) for venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsule-treated patients was increased relative to that for placebo-treated patients (increase of 4.7 msec for venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules and decrease of 1.9 msec for placebo). In these same trials, the mean change from baseline in heart rate for venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsule-treated patients was significantly higher than that for placebo (a mean increase of 4 beats per minute for venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules and 1 beat per minute for placebo). In a flexible-dose study, with venlafaxine hydrochloride doses in the range of 200 to 375 mg/day and mean dose greater than 300 mg/day, venlafaxine hydrochloride-treated patients had a mean increase in heart rate of 8.5 beats per minute compared with 1.7 beats per minute in the placebo group.
As increases in heart rate were observed, caution should be exercised in patients whose underlying medical conditions might be compromised by increases in heart rate (e.g., patients with hyperthyroidism, heart failure, or recent myocardial infarction), particularly when using doses of venlafaxine hydrochloride above 200 mg/day.
In patients with renal impairment (GFR = 10 to 70 mL/min) or cirrhosis of the liver, the clearances of venlafaxine and its active metabolite were decreased, thus prolonging the elimination half-lives of these substances. A lower dose may be necessary (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION). Venlafaxine hydrochloride, like all antidepressants, should be used with caution in such patients.
Prescribers or other health professionals should inform patients, their families, and their caregivers about the benefits and risks associated with treatment with venlafaxine tablets 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 venlafaxine tablets. 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 venlafaxine tablets.
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.
Clinical studies were performed to examine the effects of venlafaxine on behavioral performance of healthy individuals. The results revealed no clinically significant impairment of psychomotor, cognitive, or complex behavior performance. However, since any psychoactive drug may impair judgment, thinking, or motor skills, patients should be cautioned about operating hazardous machinery, including automobiles, until they are reasonably certain that venlafaxine hydrochloride therapy does not adversely affect their ability to engage in such activities.
Patients should be advised that taking venlafaxine can cause mild pupillary dilation, which in susceptible individuals, can lead to an episode of angle-closure glaucoma. Preexisting 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 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 breastfeeding an infant.
Patients should be advised to inform their physicians if they are taking, or plan to take, any prescription or over-the-counter drugs, including herbal preparations and nutritional supplements, since there is a potential for interactions.
Patients should be cautioned about the risk of serotonin syndrome with the concomitant use of venlafaxine hydrochloride and triptans, tramadol, tryptophan supplements or other serotonergic agents (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and WARNINGS, Serotonin Syndrome and PRECAUTIONS, Drug Interactions, CNS-Active Drugs, Serotonergic Drugs).
Patients should be cautioned about the concomitant use of venlafaxine 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 (see PRECAUTIONS, Abnormal Bleeding).
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