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Forest Laboratories, Inc. announced that FETZIMA (levomilnacipran extended-release capsules) was approved by the FDA for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in adults. MDD, also generally known as depression, affects almost 16 million adults in the United States every year. MDD is a serious medical condition, and despite available options, people with MDD often struggle to find a treatment that works for them -- so FDA approval of FETZIMA may be important for adults living with MDD.
FETZIMA is the most recent addition to Forest's growing mental health portfolio. For more than 15 years, Forest Laboratories has been driven by a focus on addressing unmet needs in the area of mental health. Forest's franchise now includes two marketed products for MDD:
Together, these products reflect Forest's research-driven approach toward identifying and developing a range of treatment options for the millions of Americans who live with MDD.
In three placebo-controlled, pivotal Phase III studies of adult patients with MDD, statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in depressive symptoms was demonstrated across three FETZIMA dosage strengths of 40, 80, and 120 mg once daily compared with placebo as measured by the Montgomery Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) total score (primary endpoint). FETZIMA also demonstrated superiority over placebo as measured by improvement in the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS) functional impairment total score (secondary endpoint).
FETZIMA is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) indicated for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in adults.
FETZIMA is not approved for the management of fibromyalgia. The efficacy and safety of FETZIMA for the management of fibromyalgia have not been established.
WARNING: SUICIDAL THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIORS
Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies. These studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior with antidepressant use in patients over age 24; there was a reduction in risk with antidepressant use in patients aged 65 and older.
In patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy, monitor closely for worsening, and for emergence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Advise families and caregivers of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber. FETZIMA is not approved for use in pediatric patients.
The most commonly observed adverse reactions in MDD patients treated with FETZIMA in placebo-controlled studies (incidence ≥5% and at least twice the rate of placebo) were: nausea, constipation, hyperhidrosis, heart rate increased, erectile dysfunction, tachycardia, vomiting, and palpitations.
WARNING: SUICIDALITY AND ANTIDEPRESSANT DRUGS
Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of VIIBRYD or any other antidepressant in a child, adolescent, or young adult must balance this risk with the clinical need. 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 in risk with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older. Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide. Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. Families and caregivers should be advised of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber. VIIBRYD is not approved for use in pediatric patients.
Serotonin Syndrome and MAOIs: Do not use MAOIs intended to treat psychiatric disorders with VIIBRYD or within 14 days of stopping treatment with VIIBRYD. Do not use VIIBRYD within 14 days of stopping an MAOI intended to treat psychiatric disorders. In addition, do not start VIIBRYD in a patient who is being treated with linezolid or intravenous methylene blue.
All patients treated with antidepressants should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the first few months of treatment and when changing the dose. Consider changing the therapeutic regimen, including possibly discontinuing the medication, in patients whose depression is persistently worse or includes symptoms of anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia, hypomania, mania, or suicidality that are severe, abrupt in onset, or were not part of the patient's presenting symptoms. Families and caregivers of patients being treated with antidepressants should be alerted about the need to monitor patients daily. Prescriptions for VIIBRYD should be written for the smallest quantity of tablets consistent with good patient management, in order to reduce the risk of overdose.
Serotonin Syndrome: The development of a potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome has been reported with SNRIs and SSRIs, including VIIBRYD, both when taken alone, but especially when co-administered with other serotonergic agents (including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, tryptophan, buspirone, and St. John's Wort) and with drugs that impair metabolism of serotonin (in particular, MAOIs, both those intended to treat psychiatric disorders and also others, such as linezolid and intravenous methylene blue). Symptoms of serotonin syndrome may include mental status changes (eg, agitation, hallucinations, delirium, and coma), autonomic instability (eg, tachycardia, labile blood pressure, diaphoresis, flushing, hyperthermia), neuromuscular symptoms (eg, tremor, rigidity, myoclonus, hyperreflexia, incoordination), seizures, and/or gastrointestinal symptoms. If symptoms of serotonin syndrome occur, discontinue VIIBRYD and initiate supportive treatment. If concomitant use of VIIBRYD with other serotonergic drugs is clinically warranted, patients should be aware of a potential increased risk for serotonin syndrome, particularly during treatment initiation and dose increases. Patients should be monitored for the emergence of serotonin syndrome.
Like other antidepressants, VIIBRYD should be prescribed with caution in patients with a seizure disorder.
The use of drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake, including VIIBRYD, may increase the risk of bleeding events. Patients should be cautioned about the risk of bleeding associated with the concomitant use of VIIBRYD and NSAIDs, aspirin, warfarin, or other drugs that affect coagulation or bleeding.
Symptoms of mania/hypomania were noted in 0.1% of patients treated with VIIBRYD in clinical studies. As with all antidepressants, VIIBRYD should be used cautiously in patients with a history or family history of bipolar disorder, mania, or hypomania.
Prior to initiating treatment with an antidepressant, patients with depressive symptoms should be adequately screened to determine if they are at risk for bipolar disorder. VIIBRYD is not approved for use in treating bipolar depression.
Discontinuation symptoms have been reported with discontinuation of serotonergic drugs such as VIIBRYD. Gradual dose reduction is recommended, instead of abrupt discontinuation, whenever possible. Monitor patients when discontinuing VIIBRYD. If intolerable symptoms occur following a dose decrease or upon discontinuation of treatment, consider resuming the previously prescribed dose and decreasing the dose at a more gradual rate.
Advise patients that if they are treated with diuretics, or are otherwise volume depleted, or are elderly, they may be at greater risk of developing hyponatremia while taking VIIBRYD. Although no cases of hyponatremia resulting from VIIBRYD treatment were reported in the clinical studies, hyponatremia has occurred as a result of treatment with SSRIs and SNRIs. Discontinuation of VIIBRYD in patients with symptomatic hyponatremia and appropriate medical intervention should be instituted.
The most commonly observed adverse reactions in MDD patients treated with VIIBRYD in placebo-controlled studies (incidence ≥5% and at least twice the rate of placebo) were: diarrhea (28% vs 9%), nausea (23% vs 5%), insomnia (6% vs 2%), and vomiting (5% vs 1%).
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Laboratories, Forest. "FDA approves treatment for major depressive disorder in adults." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 30 Jul. 2013. Web.
23 Apr. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/264075>
Laboratories, F. (2013, July 30). "FDA approves treatment for major depressive disorder in adults." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
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