Xenazine (Page 5 of 7)


9.1 Controlled Substance

XENAZINE is not a controlled substance.

9.2 Abuse

Clinical trials did not reveal patients developed drug seeking behaviors, though these observations were not systematic. Abuse has not been reported from the postmarketing experience in countries where XENAZINE has been marketed.

As with any CNS-active drug, prescribers should carefully evaluate patients for a history of drug abuse and follow such patients closely, observing them for signs of XENAZINE misuse or abuse (such as development of tolerance, increasing dose requirements, drug-seeking behavior).

Abrupt discontinuation of XENAZINE from patients did not produce symptoms of withdrawal or a discontinuation syndrome; only symptoms of the original disease were observed to re-emerge [see Dosage and Administration (2.4)].


Three episodes of overdose occurred in the open-label trials performed in support of registration. Eight cases of overdose with XENAZINE have been reported in the literature. The dose of XENAZINE in these patients ranged from 100 mg to 1 g. Adverse reactions associated with XENAZINE overdose include acute dystonia, oculogyric crisis, nausea and vomiting, sweating, sedation, hypotension, confusion, diarrhea, hallucinations, rubor, and tremor.

Treatment should consist of those general measures employed in the management of overdosage with any CNS-active drug. General supportive and symptomatic measures are recommended. Cardiac rhythm and vital signs should be monitored. In managing overdosage, the possibility of multiple drug involvement should always be considered. The physician should consider contacting a poison control center on the treatment of any overdose.


XENAZINE (tetrabenazine) is a monoamine depletor for oral administration. The molecular weight of tetrabenazine is 317.43; the pKa is 6.51. Tetrabenazine is a hexahydro-dimethoxy-benzoquinolizine derivative and has the following chemical name: cis rac –1,3,4,6,7,11b-hexahydro-9,10-dimethoxy-3-(2-methylpropyl)-2H-benzo[a]quinolizin-2-one.

The empirical formula C19 H27 NO3 is represented by the following structural formula:

Chemical Structure

Tetrabenazine is a white to slightly yellow crystalline powder that is sparingly soluble in water and soluble in ethanol.

Each XENAZINE (tetrabenazine) tablet contains either 12.5 or 25 mg of tetrabenazine as the active ingredient.

XENAZINE (tetrabenazine) tablets contain tetrabenazine as the active ingredient and the following inactive ingredients: lactose, magnesium stearate, maize starch, and talc. The 25 mg strength tablet also contains yellow iron oxide as an inactive ingredient.

XENAZINE (tetrabenazine) tablets are supplied as a yellowish-buff, scored tablet containing 25 mg of tetrabenazine or as a white, non-scored tablet containing 12.5 mg of tetrabenazine.


12.1 Mechanism of Action

The precise mechanism by which XENAZINE (tetrabenazine) exerts its anti-chorea effects is unknown but is believed to be related to its effect as a reversible depletor of monoamines (such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and histamine) from nerve terminals. Tetrabenazine reversibly inhibits the human vesicular monoamine transporter type 2 (VMAT2) (Ki ≈ 100 nM), resulting in decreased uptake of monoamines into synaptic vesicles and depletion of monoamine stores. Human VMAT2 is also inhibited by dihydrotetrabenazine (HTBZ), a mixture of α-HTBZ and β-HTBZ. α- and β-HTBZ, major circulating metabolites in humans, exhibit high in vitro binding affinity to bovine VMAT2. Tetrabenazine exhibits weak in vitro binding affinity at the dopamine D2 receptor (Ki = 2100 nM).

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

QTc Prolongation

The effect of a single 25 or 50 mg dose of XENAZINE on the QT interval was studied in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study in healthy male and female subjects with moxifloxacin as a positive control. At 50 mg, XENAZINE caused an approximately 8 msec mean increase in QTc (90% CI: 5.0, 10.4 msec). Additional data suggest that inhibition of CYP2D6 in healthy subjects given a single 50 mg dose of XENAZINE does not further increase the effect on the QTc interval. Effects at higher exposures to either XENAZINE or its metabolites have not been evaluated [see Warnings and Precautions (5.8), Drug Interactions (7.5)].

Melanin Binding

Tetrabenazine or its metabolites bind to melanin-containing tissues (i.e., eye, skin, fur) in pigmented rats. After a single oral dose of radiolabeled tetrabenazine, radioactivity was still detected in eye and fur at 21 days post dosing [see Warnings and Precautions (5.11)].

12.3 Pharmacokinetics


Following oral administration of tetrabenazine, the extent of absorption is at least 75%. After single oral doses ranging from 12.5 to 50 mg, plasma concentrations of tetrabenazine are generally below the limit of detection because of the rapid and extensive hepatic metabolism of tetrabenazine by carbonyl reductase to the active metabolites α-HTBZ and β-HTBZ. α-HTBZ and β-HTBZ are metabolized principally by CYP2D6. Peak plasma concentrations (Cmax ) of α-HTBZ and β-HTBZ are reached within 1 to 1½ hours post-dosing. α-HTBZ is subsequently metabolized to a minor metabolite, 9-desmethyl-α-DHTBZ. β-HTBZ is subsequently metabolized to another major circulating metabolite, 9-desmethyl-β-DHTBZ, for which Cmax is reached approximately 2 hours post-dosing.

Food Effects

The effects of food on the bioavailability of XENAZINE were studied in subjects administered a single dose with and without food. Food had no effect on mean plasma concentrations, Cmax , or the area under the concentration time course (AUC) of α-HTBZ or β-HTBZ [see Dosage and Administration (2.1)].


Results of PET-scan studies in humans show that radioactivity is rapidly distributed to the brain following intravenous injection of 11 C-labeled tetrabenazine or α-HTBZ, with the highest binding in the striatum and lowest binding in the cortex.

The in vitro protein binding of tetrabenazine, α-HTBZ, and β-HTBZ was examined in human plasma for concentrations ranging from 50 to 200 ng/mL. Tetrabenazine binding ranged from 82% to 85%, α-HTBZ binding ranged from 60% to 68%, and β-HTBZ binding ranged from 59% to 63%.


After oral administration in humans, at least 19 metabolites of tetrabenazine have been identified. α-HTBZ, β-HTBZ and 9-desmethyl-β-DHTBZ are the major circulating metabolites and are subsequently metabolized to sulfate or glucuronide conjugates. α-HTBZ and β-HTBZ are formed by carbonyl reductase that occurs mainly in the liver. α-HTBZ is O-dealkylated by CYP450 enzymes, principally CYP2D6, with some contribution of CYP1A2 to form 9-desmethyl-α-DHTBZ, a minor metabolite. β-HTBZ is O-dealkylated principally by CYP2D6 to form 9-desmethyl-β-DHTBZ.

The results of in vitro studies do not suggest that tetrabenazine, α-HTBZ, β-HTBZ or 9-desmethyl-β-DHTBZ are likely to result in clinically significant inhibition of CYP2D6, CYP1A2, CYP2B6, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2E1, or CYP3A. In vitro studies suggest that neither tetrabenazine nor its α- or β-HTBZ or 9-desmethyl-β-DHTBZ metabolites are likely to result in clinically significant induction of CYP1A2, CYP3A4, CYP2B6, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, or CYP2C19.

Neither tetrabenazine nor its α- or β-HTBZ or 9-desmethyl-β-DHTBZ metabolites are likely to be substrates or inhibitors of P-glycoprotein at clinically relevant concentrations in vivo.


After oral administration, tetrabenazine is extensively hepatically metabolized, and the metabolites are primarily renally eliminated. α-HTBZ, β-HTBZ and 9-desmethyl-β-DHTBZ have half-lives of 7 hours, 5 hours and 12 hours respectively. In a mass balance study in 6 healthy volunteers, approximately 75% of the dose was excreted in the urine, and fecal recovery accounted for approximately 7 to 16% of the dose. Unchanged tetrabenazine has not been found in human urine. Urinary excretion of α-HTBZ or β-HTBZ accounted for less than 10% of the administered dose. Circulating metabolites, including sulfate and glucuronide conjugates of HTBZ metabolites as well as products of oxidative metabolism, account for the majority of metabolites in the urine.

Specific Populations


There is no apparent effect of gender on the pharmacokinetics of α-HTBZ or β-HTBZ.

Hepatic Impairment

The disposition of tetrabenazine was compared in 12 patients with mild to moderate chronic liver impairment (Child-Pugh scores of 5-9) and 12 age- and gender-matched subjects with normal hepatic function who received a single 25 mg dose of tetrabenazine. In patients with hepatic impairment, tetrabenazine plasma concentrations were similar to or higher than concentrations of α-HTBZ, reflecting the markedly decreased metabolism of tetrabenazine to α-HTBZ. The mean tetrabenazine Cmax in subjects with hepatic impairment was approximately 7- to 190-fold higher than the detectable peak concentrations in healthy subjects. The elimination half-life of tetrabenazine in subjects with hepatic impairment was approximately 17.5 hours. The time to peak concentrations (tmax ) of α-HTBZ and β-HTBZ was slightly delayed in subjects with hepatic impairment compared to age-matched controls (1.75 hrs vs. 1.0 hrs), and the elimination half-lives of the α-HTBZ and β-HTBZ were prolonged to approximately 10 and 8 hours, respectively. The exposure to α-HTBZ and β-HTBZ was approximately 30% to 39% greater in patients with liver impairment than in age-matched controls. The safety and efficacy of this increased exposure to tetrabenazine and other circulating metabolites are unknown so that it is not possible to adjust the dosage of tetrabenazine in hepatic impairment to ensure safe use. Therefore, XENAZINE is contraindicated in patients with hepatic impairment [see Contraindications (4), Use in Specific Populations (8.6)].

Poor CYP2D6 Metabolizers

Although the pharmacokinetics of XENAZINE and its metabolites in patients who do not express the drug metabolizing enzyme, CYP2D6, poor metabolizers, (PMs), have not been systematically evaluated, it is likely that the exposure to α-HTBZ and β-HTBZ would be increased similar to that observed in patients taking strong CYP2D6 inhibitors (3- and 9-fold, respectively) [see Dosage and Administration (2.3), Warnings and Precautions (5.3), Use in Specific Populations (8.7)].

Drug Interactions

CYP2D6 Inhibitors

In vitro studies indicate that α-HTBZ and β-HTBZ are substrates for CYP2D6. The effect of CYP2D6 inhibition on the pharmacokinetics of tetrabenazine and its metabolites was studied in 25 healthy subjects following a single 50 mg dose of tetrabenazine given after 10 days of administration of the strong CYP2D6 inhibitor paroxetine 20 mg daily. There was an approximately 30% increase in Cmax and an approximately 3-fold increase in AUC for α-HTBZ in subjects given paroxetine prior to tetrabenazine compared to tetrabenazine given alone. For β-HTBZ, the Cmax and AUC were increased 2.4- and 9-fold, respectively, in subjects given paroxetine prior to tetrabenazine given alone. The elimination half-life of α-HTBZ and β-HTBZ was approximately 14 hours when tetrabenazine was given with paroxetine.

Strong CYP2D6 inhibitors (e.g., paroxetine, fluoxetine, quinidine) markedly increase exposure to these metabolites. The effect of moderate or weak CYP2D6 inhibitors such as duloxetine, terbinafine, amiodarone, or sertraline on the exposure to XENAZINE and its metabolites has not been evaluated [see Dosage and Administration (2.3), Warnings and Precautions (5.3), Drug Interactions (7.1), Use in Specific Populations (8.7)].


Digoxin is a substrate for P-glycoprotein. A study in healthy volunteers showed that XENAZINE (25 mg twice daily for 3 days) did not affect the bioavailability of digoxin, suggesting that at this dose, XENAZINE does not affect P-glycoprotein in the intestinal tract. In vitro studies also do not suggest that XENAZINE or its metabolites are P-glycoprotein inhibitors.

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