Venlafaxine and its active metabolite, O-desmethylvenlafaxine (ODV) have no significant affinity for muscarinic cholinergic, H1 -histaminergic, or α1 -adrenergic receptors in vitro. Pharmacologic activity at these receptors is hypothesized to be associated with the various anticholinergic, sedative, and cardiovascular effects seen with other psychotropic drugs. Venlafaxine and ODV do not possess monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitory activity.
Steady-state concentrations of venlafaxine and O-desmethylvenlafaxine (ODV) in plasma are attained within 3 days of oral multiple dose therapy. Venlafaxine and ODV exhibited linear kinetics over the dose range of 75 to 450 mg/day. The mean ± SD apparent elimination half-life for venlafaxine and ODV after administration of 75 mg venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release tablets under fed conditions were 10.7±3.2 hours and 12.5±3 hours respectively. Venlafaxine and ODV are minimally bound at therapeutic concentrations to plasma proteins (27% and 30%, respectively).
Absorption and Distribution
Venlafaxine is well absorbed and extensively metabolized in the liver. ODV is the only major active metabolite. On the basis of mass balance studies, at least 92% of a single oral dose of venlafaxine is absorbed. The absolute bioavailability of venlafaxine is about 45%. Administration of 75 mg venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release tablets under fed conditions resulted in mean ± SD venlafaxine Cmax of 26.9 ± 13.4 ng/mL and AUC of 1,536.3 ± 496.8 ng∙hr/mL. Tmax was 6.3 ± 2.3 hours. ODV mean ± SD Cmax , AUC, Tmax after administration of 75 mg venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release tablets under fed conditions were 97.9 ± 29.4 ng/mL, 2,926 ± 746.1 ng∙hr/mL, and 11.6 ± 2.9 hours, respectively.
Administration of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules (150 mg q24 hours) generally resulted in lower Cmax (150 ng/mL for venlafaxine and 260 ng/mL for ODV) and later Tmax (5.5 hours for venlafaxine and 9 hours for ODV) than for immediate release venlafaxine tablets (Cmax ‘s for immediate release 75 mg q12 hours were 225 ng/mL for venlafaxine and 290 ng/mL for ODV; Tmax ‘s were 2 hours for venlafaxine and 3 hours for ODV). When equal daily doses of venlafaxine were administered as either an immediate-release tablet or the extended-release form of venlafaxine, the exposure to both venlafaxine and ODV would be similar for the two treatments. Venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release tablets would, therefore, provide a slower rate of absorption, but the same extent of absorption compared with the immediate-release tablet.
Food did not affect the pharmacokinetic parameters AUC, Cmax , and Tmax of venlafaxine or its active metabolite, ODV, after administration of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release tablets. Time of administration (AM vs PM) would not affect the pharmacokinetics of venlafaxine and ODV.
Equal doses of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release tablets are bioequivalent to Effexor XR* capsules when administered under fed conditions.
Metabolism and Excretion
Following absorption, venlafaxine undergoes extensive presystemic metabolism in the liver, primarily to ODV, but also to N-desmethylvenlafaxine, N,O-didesmethylvenlafaxine, and other minor metabolites. In vitro studies indicate that the formation of ODV is catalyzed by CYP2D6; this has been confirmed in a clinical study showing that patients with low CYP2D6 levels (“poor metabolizers”) had increased levels of venlafaxine and reduced levels of ODV compared to people with normal CYP2D6 (“extensive metabolizers”). The differences between the CYP2D6 poor and extensive metabolizers, however, are not expected to be clinically important because the sum of venlafaxine and ODV is similar in the two groups and venlafaxine and ODV are pharmacologically approximately equiactive and equipotent.
Approximately 87% of a venlafaxine dose is recovered in the urine within 48 hours as unchanged venlafaxine (5%), unconjugated ODV (29%), conjugated ODV (26%), or other minor inactive metabolites (27%). Renal elimination of venlafaxine and its metabolites is thus the primary route of excretion.
Age and Gender: A population pharmacokinetic analysis of 404 venlafaxine-treated patients from two studies involving both b.i.d. and t.i.d. regimens showed that dose-normalized trough plasma levels of either venlafaxine or ODV were unaltered by age or gender differences. Dosage adjustment based on the age or gender of a patient is generally not necessary [see Dosage and Administration (2) ].
Extensive/Poor Metabolizers: Plasma concentrations of venlafaxine were higher in CYP2D6 poor metabolizers than extensive metabolizers. Because the total exposure (AUC) of venlafaxine and ODV was similar in poor and extensive metabolizer groups, however, there is no need for different venlafaxine dosing regimens for these two groups.
Liver Disease: In 9 subjects with hepatic cirrhosis, the pharmacokinetic disposition of both venlafaxine and ODV was significantly altered after oral administration of venlafaxine. Venlafaxine elimination half-life was prolonged by about 30%, and clearance decreased by about 50% in cirrhotic subjects compared to normal subjects. ODV elimination half-life was prolonged by about 60%, and clearance decreased by about 30% in cirrhotic subjects compared to normal subjects. A large degree of intersubject variability was noted. Three patients with more severe cirrhosis had a more substantial decrease in venlafaxine clearance (about 90%) compared to normal subjects.
In a second study, venlafaxine was administered orally and intravenously in normal (n = 21) subjects, and in Child-Pugh A (n = 8) and Child-Pugh B (n = 11) subjects (mildly and moderately impaired, respectively). Venlafaxine oral bioavailability was increased 2 to 3 fold, oral elimination half-life was approximately twice as long and oral clearance was reduced by more than half, compared to normal subjects. In hepatically impaired subjects, ODV oral elimination half-life was prolonged by about 40%, while oral clearance for ODV was similar to that for normal subjects. A large degree of intersubject variability was noted.
Dosage adjustment is necessary in these hepatically impaired patients [see Dosage and Administration (2.3) and Use in Specific Populations (8.6) ]. Renal Disease: In a renal impairment study, venlafaxine elimination half-life after oral administration was prolonged by about 50% and clearance was reduced by about 24% in renally impaired patients (GFR=10 to 70 mL/min), compared to normal subjects. In dialysis patients, venlafaxine elimination half-life was prolonged by about 180% and clearance was reduced by about 57% compared to normal subjects. Similarly, ODV elimination half-life was prolonged by about 40% although clearance was unchanged in patients with renal impairment (GFR=10 to 70 mL/min) compared to normal subjects. In dialysis patients, ODV elimination half-life was prolonged by about 142% and clearance was reduced by about 56% compared to normal subjects. A large degree of intersubject variability was noted. Dosage adjustment is necessary in these patients [see Dosage and Administration (2.3) and Use in Specific Populations (8.7) ].
Venlafaxine was given by oral gavage to mice for 18 months at doses up to 120 mg/kg per day, which was 1.7 times the maximum recommended human dose on a mg/m2 basis. 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 concentrations of venlafaxine at necropsy were 1 times (male rats) and 6 times (female rats) the plasma concentrations 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 Chinese hamster ovary/HGPRT mammalian cell forward gene mutation assay. Venlafaxine was also not mutagenic or clastogenic in the in vitro BALB/c-3T3 mouse cell transformation assay, the sister chromatid exchange assay in cultured Chinese hamster ovary cells, or in the in vivo chromosomal aberration assay in rat bone marrow. ODV was not clastogenic in the in vitro Chinese hamster ovary cell chromosomal aberration assay, but elicited a clastogenic response in the in vivo chromosomal aberration assay in rat bone marrow.
Impairment of Fertility
Reproduction and fertility studies in rats showed no effects on male or female fertility at oral doses of up to 2 times the maximum recommended human dose on a mg/m2 basis.
The efficacy of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules as a treatment for major depressive disorder was established in two placebo-controlled, short-term, flexible-dose studies in adult outpatients meeting DSM-III-R or DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder.
A 12 week study utilizing venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules doses in a range 75 to 150 mg/day (mean dose for completers was 136 mg/day) and an 8 week study utilizing venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules doses in a range 75 to 225 mg/day (mean dose for completers was 177 mg/day) both demonstrated superiority of venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules over placebo on the HAM-D total score, HAM-D Depressed Mood Item, the MADRS total score, the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) Severity of Illness item, and the CGI Global Improvement item. In both studies, venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules were also significantly better than placebo for certain factors of the HAM-D, including the anxiety/somatization factor, the cognitive disturbance factor, and the retardation factor, as well as for the psychic anxiety score.
A 4 week study of inpatients meeting DSM-III-R criteria for major depressive disorder with melancholia utilizing venlafaxine hydrochloride immediate-release tablets in a range of 150 to 375 mg/day (t.i.d. schedule) demonstrated superiority of venlafaxine hydrochloride immediate-release tablets over placebo. The mean dose in completers was 350 mg/day.
Examination of gender subsets of the population studied did not reveal any differential responsiveness on the basis of gender.
In one longer-term study, adult outpatients meeting DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder who had responded during an 8 week open trial on venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules (75, 150, or 225 mg, qAM) were randomized to continuation of their same venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules dose or to placebo, for up to 26 weeks of observation for relapse. Response during the open phase was defined as a CGI Severity of Illness item score of ≤3 and a HAM-D-21 total score of ≤10 at the day 56 evaluation. Relapse during the double-blind phase was defined as follows: (1) a reappearance of major depressive disorder as defined by DSM-IV criteria and a CGI Severity of Illness item score of ≥4 (moderately ill), (2) 2 consecutive CGI Severity of Illness item scores of ≥4, or (3) a final CGI Severity of Illness item score of ≥4 for any patient who withdrew from the study for any reason. Patients receiving continued venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules treatment experienced significantly lower relapse rates over the subsequent 26 weeks compared with those receiving placebo.
In a second longer-term trial, adult outpatients meeting DSM-III-R criteria for major depressive disorder, recurrent type, who had responded (HAM-D-21 total score ≤12 at the day 56 evaluation) and continued to be improved [defined as the following criteria being met for days 56 through 180: (1) no HAM-D-21 total score ≥20; (2) no more than 2 HAM-D-21 total scores >10, and (3) no single CGI Severity of Illness item score ≥4 (moderately ill)] during an initial 26 weeks of treatment on venlafaxine hydrochloride immediate-release tablets (100 to 200 mg/day, on a b.i.d. schedule) were randomized to continuation of their same dose of venlafaxine hydrochloride immediate-release tablets or to placebo. The follow-up period to observe patients for relapse, defined as a CGI Severity of Illness item score ≥4, was for up to 52 weeks. Patients receiving continued treatment with venlafaxine hydrochloride immediate-release tablets experienced significantly lower relapse rates over the subsequent 52 weeks compared with those receiving placebo.
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