Major Depressive Disorder: The efficacy of bupropion as a treatment for major depressive disorder was established with the immediate-release formulation of bupropion in two 4-week, placebo-controlled trials in adult inpatients and in one 6-week, placebo-controlled trial in adult outpatients. In the first study, patients were titrated in a bupropion dose range of 300 to 600 mg/day of the immediate-release formulation on a 3 times daily schedule; 78% of patients received maximum doses of 450 mg/day or less. This trial demonstrated the effectiveness of bupropion on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) total score, the depressed mood item (item 1) from that scale, and the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) severity score. A second study included 2 fixed doses of the immediate-release formulation of bupropion (300 and 450 mg/day) and placebo. This trial demonstrated the effectiveness of bupropion, but only at the 450-mg/day dose of the immediate-release formulation; the results were positive for the HDRS total score and the CGI severity score, but not for HDRS item 1. In the third study, outpatients received 300 mg/day of the immediate-release formulation of bupropion. This study demonstrated the effectiveness of bupropion on the HDRS total score, HDRS item 1, the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale, the CGI severity score, and the CGI improvement score.
In a longer-term study, outpatients meeting DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder, recurrent type, who had responded during an 8-week open trial on bupropion (150 mg twice daily of the sustained-release formulation) were randomized to continuation of their same dose of bupropion or placebo, for up to 44 weeks of observation for relapse. Response during the open phase was defined as CGI Improvement score of 1 (very much improved) or 2 (much improved) for each of the final 3 weeks. Relapse during the double-blind phase was defined as the investigator’s judgment that drug treatment was needed for worsening depressive symptoms. Patients receiving continued bupropion treatment experienced significantly lower relapse rates over the subsequent 44 weeks compared to those receiving placebo.
Although there are no independent trials demonstrating the antidepressant effectiveness of WELLBUTRIN XL, studies have demonstrated similar bioavailability of WELLBUTRIN XL to both the immediate-release formulation and to the sustained-release formulation of bupropion under steady-state conditions, i.e., WELLBUTRIN XL 300 mg once daily was shown to have bioavailability that was similar to that of 100 mg 3 times daily of the immediate-release formulation of bupropion and to that of 150 mg 2 times daily of the sustained-release formulation of bupropion, with regard to both peak plasma concentration and extent of absorption, for parent drug and metabolites.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: The efficacy of WELLBUTRIN XL for the prevention of seasonal major depressive episodes associated with seasonal affective disorder was established in 3 double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in adult outpatients with a history of major depressive disorder with an autumn-winter seasonal pattern (as defined by DSM-IV criteria). Treatment was initiated prior to the onset of symptoms in the autumn (September to November) and was discontinued following a 2 week taper that began the first week of spring (fourth week of March), resulting in a treatment duration of approximately 4 to 6 months for the majority of patients. At the start of the study, patients were randomized to receive placebo or WELLBUTRIN XL 150 mg once daily for 1 week, followed by up-titration to 300 mg once daily. Patients who were deemed by the investigator to be unlikely or unable to tolerate 300 mg once daily were allowed to remain on, or had their dose reduced to, 150 mg once daily. The mean doses of WELLBUTRIN XL in the 3 studies ranged from 257 to 280 mg/day.
In these 3 trials, the percentage of patients who were depression-free at the end of treatment was significantly higher for WELLBUTRIN XL than for placebo: 81.4% vs 69.7%, 87.2% vs 78.7%, and 84.0% vs 69.0% for Study 1, 2 and 3, respectively; with a depression-free rate for the 3 studies combined of 84.3% vs 72.0%.
WELLBUTRIN XL Indications and Usage
Major Depressive Disorder: WELLBUTRIN XL is indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder.
The efficacy of bupropion in the treatment of a major depressive episode was established in two 4-week controlled trials of inpatients and in one 6-week controlled trial of outpatients whose diagnoses corresponded most closely to the Major Depression category of the APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) (see CLINICAL TRIALS).
A major depressive episode (DSM-IV) implies the presence of 1) depressed mood or 2) loss of interest or pleasure; in addition, at least 5 of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning: depressed mood, markedly diminished interest or pleasure in usual activities, significant change in weight and/or appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation or retardation, increased fatigue, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, slowed thinking or impaired concentration, a suicide attempt, or suicidal ideation.
The efficacy of bupropion in maintaining an antidepressant response for up to 44 weeks following 8 weeks of acute treatment was demonstrated in a placebo-controlled trial with the sustained-release formulation of bupropion (see CLINICAL TRIALS). Nevertheless, the physician who elects to use WELLBUTRIN XL for extended periods should periodically reevaluate the long-term usefulness of the drug for the individual patient.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: WELLBUTRIN XL is indicated for the prevention of seasonal major depressive episodes in patients with a diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder.
The efficacy of WELLBUTRIN XL for the prevention of seasonal major depressive episodes was established in 3 controlled trials of adult outpatients with a history of major depressive disorder with an autumn-winter seasonal pattern as defined by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) criteria (see CLINICAL TRIALS).
Seasonal affective disorder is characterized by recurrent major depressive episodes, most commonly occurring during the autumn and/or winter months. Episodes may last up to 6 months in duration, typically beginning in the autumn and remitting in the springtime. Although patients with seasonal affective disorder may have depressive episodes during other times of the year, the diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder requires that the number of seasonal episodes substantially outnumber the number of non-seasonal episodes during the individual’s lifetime.
WELLBUTRIN XL is contraindicated in patients with a seizure disorder.
WELLBUTRIN XL is contraindicated in patients treated with ZYBAN® (bupropion hydrochloride) Sustained-Release Tablets; WELLBUTRIN® (bupropion hydrochloride), the immediate-release formulation; WELLBUTRIN SR, (bupropion hydrochloride), the sustained-release formulation; or any other medications that contain bupropion because the incidence of seizure is dose dependent.
WELLBUTRIN XL is contraindicated in patients with a current or prior diagnosis of bulimia or anorexia nervosa because of a higher incidence of seizures noted in patients treated for bulimia with the immediate-release formulation of bupropion.
WELLBUTRIN XL is contraindicated in patients undergoing abrupt discontinuation of alcohol or sedatives (including benzodiazepines).
The concurrent administration of WELLBUTRIN XL and a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor is contraindicated. At least 14 days should elapse between discontinuation of an MAO inhibitor and initiation of treatment with WELLBUTRIN XL.
WELLBUTRIN XL is contraindicated in patients who have shown an allergic response to bupropion or the other ingredients that make up WELLBUTRIN XL.
Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk in Treating Psychiatric Disorders: Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), both adult and pediatric, may experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence of suicidal ideation and behavior (suicidality) or unusual changes in behavior, whether or not they are taking antidepressant medications, and this risk may persist until significant remission occurs. Suicide is a known risk of depression and certain other psychiatric disorders, and these disorders themselves are the strongest predictors of suicide. There has been a long-standing concern, however, that antidepressants may have a role in inducing worsening of depression and the emergence of suicidality in certain patients during the early phases of treatment. Pooled analyses of short-term placebo-controlled trials of antidepressant drugs (SSRIs and others) showed that these drugs increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 18 to 24) with major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Short-term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24; there was a reduction with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older.
The pooled analyses of placebo-controlled trials in children and adolescents with MDD, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 24 short-term trials of 9 antidepressant drugs in over 4,400 patients. The pooled analyses of placebo-controlled trials in adults with MDD or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 295 short-term trials (median duration of 2 months) of 11 antidepressant drugs in over 77,000 patients. There was considerable variation in risk of suicidality among drugs, but a tendency toward an increase in the younger patients for almost all drugs studied. There were differences in absolute risk of suicidality across the different indications, with the highest incidence in MDD. The risk differences (drug vs placebo), however, were relatively stable within age strata and across indications. These risk differences (drug-placebo difference in the number of cases of suicidality per 1,000 patients treated) are provided in Table 1.
|Age Range||Drug-Placebo Difference in Number of Cases of Suicidality per 1,000 Patients Treated|
|Increases Compared to Placebo|
|<18||14 additional cases|
|18-24||5 additional cases|
|Decreases Compared to Placebo|
|25-64||1 fewer case|
|≥65||6 fewer cases|
No suicides occurred in any of the pediatric trials. There were suicides in the adult trials, but the number was not sufficient to reach any conclusion about drug effect on suicide.
It is unknown whether the suicidality risk extends to longer-term use, i.e., beyond several months. However, there is substantial evidence from placebo-controlled maintenance trials in adults with depression that the use of antidepressants can delay the recurrence of depression.
All patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy, or at times of dose changes, either increases or decreases.
The following symptoms, anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania, have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric. Although a causal link between the emergence of such symptoms and either the worsening of depression and/or the emergence of suicidal impulses has not been established, there is concern that such symptoms may represent precursors to emerging suicidality.
Consideration should be given to changing the therapeutic regimen, including possibly discontinuing the medication, in patients whose depression is persistently worse, or who are experiencing emergent suicidality or symptoms that might be precursors to worsening depression or suicidality, especially if these symptoms are severe, abrupt in onset, or were not part of the patient’s presenting symptoms.
Families and caregivers of patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder or other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric, should be alerted about the need to monitor patients for the emergence of agitation, irritability, unusual changes in behavior, and the other symptoms described above, as well as the emergence of suicidality, and to report such symptoms immediately to healthcare providers. Such monitoring should include daily observation by families and caregivers. Prescriptions for WELLBUTRIN XL should be written for the smallest quantity of tablets consistent with good patient management, in order to reduce the risk of overdose.
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