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ZOLOFT® (sertraline HCl) Warnings and Precautions

5 WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS

5.1 Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Pediatric and Young Adult Patients

In pooled analyses of placebo-controlled trials of antidepressant drugs (SSRIs and other antidepressant classes) that included approximately 77,000 adult patients and over 4,400 pediatric patients, the incidence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in pediatric and young adult patients was greater in antidepressant-treated patients than in placebo-treated patients. The drug-placebo differences in the number of cases of suicidal thoughts and behaviors per 1000 patients treated are provided in Table 2.

No suicides occurred in any of the pediatric studies. There were suicides in the adult studies, but the number was not sufficient to reach any conclusion about antidepressant drug effect on suicide.

Table 2: Risk Differences of the Number of Cases of Suicidal Thoughts or Behaviors in the Pooled Placebo-Controlled Trials of Antidepressants in Pediatric and Adult Patients
Age Range
(years)
Drug-Placebo Difference in Number of Patients of Suicidal Thoughts or Behaviors per 1000 Patients Treated
Increases Compared to Placebo
<1814 additional patients
18–245 additional patients
Decreases Compared to Placebo
25–641 fewer patient
≥656 fewer patients

It is unknown whether the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in pediatric and young adult patients extends to longer-term use, i.e., beyond four months. However, there is substantial evidence from placebo-controlled maintenance trials in adults with MDD that antidepressants delay the recurrence of depression.

Monitor all antidepressant-treated patients for clinical worsening and emergence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, especially during the initial few months of drug therapy and at times of dosage changes. Counsel family members or caregivers of patients to monitor for changes in behavior and to alert the healthcare provider. Consider changing the therapeutic regimen, including possibly discontinuing ZOLOFT, in patients whose depression is persistently worse, or who are experiencing emergent suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

5.2 Serotonin Syndrome

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and SSRIs, including ZOLOFT, can precipitate serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition. The risk is increased with concomitant use of other serotonergic drugs (including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, tryptophan, buspirone, amphetamines, and St. John's Wort) and with drugs that impair metabolism of serotonin, i.e., MAOIs [See Contraindications (4), Drug Interactions (7.1)]. Serotonin syndrome can also occur when these drugs are used alone.

Serotonin syndrome signs and symptoms may include mental status changes (e.g., agitation, hallucinations, delirium, and coma), autonomic instability (e.g., tachycardia, labile blood pressure, dizziness, diaphoresis, flushing, hyperthermia), neuromuscular symptoms (e.g., tremor, rigidity, myoclonus, hyperreflexia, incoordination), seizures, and gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea).

The concomitant use of ZOLOFT with MAOIs is contraindicated. In addition, do not initiate ZOLOFT in a patient being treated with MAOIs such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue. No reports involved the administration of methylene blue by other routes (such as oral tablets or local tissue injection). If it is necessary to initiate treatment with an MAOI such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue in a patient taking ZOLOFT, discontinue ZOLOFT before initiating treatment with the MAOI [See Contraindications (4), Drug Interactions (7.1)].

Monitor all patients taking ZOLOFT for the emergence of serotonin syndrome. Discontinue treatment with ZOLOFT and any concomitant serotonergic agents immediately if the above symptoms occur, and initiate supportive symptomatic treatment. If concomitant use of ZOLOFT with other serotonergic drugs is clinically warranted, inform patients of the increased risk for serotonin syndrome and monitor for symptoms.

5.3 Increased Risk of Bleeding

Drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake inhibition, including ZOLOFT, increase the risk of bleeding events. Concomitant use of aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), other antiplatelet drugs, warfarin, and other anticoagulants may add to this risk. Case reports and epidemiological studies (case-control and cohort design) have demonstrated an association between use of drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake and the occurrence of gastrointestinal bleeding. Bleeding events related to drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake have ranged from ecchymosis, hematoma, epistaxis, and petechiae to life-threatening hemorrhages.

Inform patients of the increased risk of bleeding associated with the concomitant use of ZOLOFT and antiplatelet agents or anticoagulants. For patients taking warfarin, carefully monitor the international normalized ratio.

5.4 Activation of Mania or Hypomania

In patients with bipolar disorder, treating a depressive episode with ZOLOFT or another antidepressant may precipitate a mixed/manic episode. In controlled clinical trials, patients with bipolar disorder were generally excluded; however, symptoms of mania or hypomania were reported in 0.4% of patients treated with ZOLOFT. Prior to initiating treatment with ZOLOFT, screen patients for any personal or family history of bipolar disorder, mania, or hypomania.

5.5 Discontinuation Syndrome

Adverse reactions after discontinuation of serotonergic antidepressants, particularly after abrupt discontinuation, include: nausea, sweating, dysphoric mood, irritability, agitation, dizziness, sensory disturbances (e.g., paresthesia, such as electric shock sensations), tremor, anxiety, confusion, headache, lethargy, emotional lability, insomnia, hypomania, tinnitus, and seizures. A gradual reduction in dosage rather than abrupt cessation is recommended whenever possible [See Dosage and Administration (2.6)].

5.6 Seizures

ZOLOFT has not been systematically evaluated in patients with seizure disorders. Patients with a history of seizures were excluded from clinical studies. ZOLOFT should be prescribed with caution in patients with a seizure disorder.

5.7 Angle-Closure Glaucoma

The pupillary dilation that occurs following use of many antidepressant drugs including ZOLOFT may trigger an angle closure attack in a patient with anatomically narrow angles who does not have a patent iridectomy. Avoid use of antidepressants, including ZOLOFT, in patients with untreated anatomically narrow angles.

5.8 Hyponatremia

Hyponatremia may occur as a result of treatment with SNRIs and SSRIs, including ZOLOFT. Cases with serum sodium lower than 110 mmol/L have been reported. Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia include headache, difficulty concentrating, memory impairment, confusion, weakness, and unsteadiness, which may lead to falls. Signs and symptoms associated with more severe or acute cases have included hallucination, syncope, seizure, coma, respiratory arrest, and death. In many cases, this hyponatremia appears to be the result of the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH).

In patients with symptomatic hyponatremia, discontinue ZOLOFT and institute appropriate medical intervention. Elderly patients, patients taking diuretics, and those who are volume-depleted may be at greater risk of developing hyponatremia with SSRIs and SNRIs [See Use in Specific Populations (8.5)].

5.9 False-Positive Effects on Screening Tests for Benzodiazepines

False-positive urine immunoassay screening tests for benzodiazepines have been reported in patients taking ZOLOFT. This finding is due to lack of specificity of the screening tests. False-positive test results may be expected for several days following discontinuation of ZOLOFT. Confirmatory tests, such as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, will help distinguish ZOLOFT from benzodiazepines [See Drug Interactions (7.3)].

5.10 QTc Prolongation

During post-marketing use of sertraline, cases of QTc prolongation and Torsade de Pointes (TdP) have been reported. Most reports were confounded by other risk factors. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo- and positive-controlled three-period crossover thorough QTc study in 54 healthy adult subjects, there was a positive relationship between the length of the rate-adjusted QTc interval and serum sertraline concentration. Therefore, ZOLOFT should be used with caution in patients with risk factors for QTc prolongation [See Drug Interactions (7.1), Clinical Pharmacology (12.2)].

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