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Keppra XR (Levetiracetam) - Warnings and Precautions

 
 



WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS

5.1 Suicidal Behavior and Ideation

Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), including KEPPRA XR, increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in patients taking these drugs for any indication. Patients treated with any AED for any indication should be monitored for the emergence or worsening of depression, suicidal thoughts or behavior, and/or any unusual changes in mood or behavior.

Pooled analyses of 199 placebo-controlled clinical trials (mono- and adjunctive therapy) of 11 different AEDs showed that patients randomized to one of the AEDs had approximately twice the risk (adjusted Relative Risk 1.8, 95% CI:1.2, 2.7) of suicidal thinking or behavior compared to patients randomized to placebo. In these trials, which had a median treatment duration of 12 weeks, the estimated incidence rate of suicidal behavior or ideation among 27,863 AED-treated patients was 0.43%, compared to 0.24% among 16,029 placebo-treated patients, representing an increase of approximately one case of suicidal thinking or behavior for every 530 patients treated. There were four suicides in drug-treated patients in the trials and none in placebo-treated patients, but the number is too small to allow any conclusion about drug effect on suicide.

The increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior with AEDs was observed as early as one week after starting drug treatment with AEDs and persisted for the duration of treatment assessed. Because most trials included in the analysis did not extend beyond 24 weeks, the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior beyond 24 weeks could not be assessed.

The risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior was generally consistent among drugs in the data analyzed. The finding of increased risk with AEDs of varying mechanisms of action and across a range of indications suggests that the risk applies to all AEDs used for any indication. The risk did not vary substantially by age (5-100 years) in the clinical trials analyzed. Table 2 shows absolute and relative risk by indication for all evaluated AEDs.

Table 2 Risk by indication for antiepileptic drugs in the pooled analysis
IndicationPlacebo Patients with Events Per 1000 PatientsDrug Patients with Events Per 1000 PatientsRelative Risk: Incidence of Events in Drug Patients/Incidence in Placebo PatientsRisk Difference Additional Drug Patients with Events Per 1000 Patients
Epilepsy1.03.43.52.4
Psychiatric5.78.51.52.9
Other1.01.81.90.9
Total2.44.31.81.9

The relative risk for suicidal thoughts or behavior was higher in clinical trials for epilepsy than in clinical trials for psychiatric or other conditions, but the absolute risk differences were similar for the epilepsy and psychiatric indications.

Anyone considering prescribing KEPPRA XR or any other AED must balance the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior with the risk of untreated illness. Epilepsy and many other illnesses for which AEDs are prescribed are themselves associated with morbidity and mortality and an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Should suicidal thoughts and behavior emerge during treatment, the prescriber needs to consider whether the emergence of these symptoms in any given patient may be related to the illness being treated.

Patients, their caregivers, and families should be informed that AEDs increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior and should be advised of the need to be alert for the emergence or worsening of the signs and symptoms of depression, any unusual changes in mood or behavior, or the emergence of suicidal thoughts, behavior, or thoughts about self-harm. Behaviors of concern should be reported immediately to healthcare providers.

Neuropsychiatric Adverse Reactions

KEPPRA XR Tablets

In some patients experiencing partial onset seizures, KEPPRA XR causes somnolence, dizziness, and behavioral abnormalities.

In the KEPPRA XR double-blind, controlled trial in patients experiencing partial onset seizures, 7.8% of KEPPRA XR-treated patients experienced somnolence compared to 2.5% of placebo-treated patients. Dizziness was reported in 5.2% of KEPPRA XR-treated patients compared to 2.5% of placebo-treated patients.

A total of 6.5% of KEPPRA XR-treated patients experienced non-psychotic behavioral disorders (reported as irritability and aggression) compared to 0% of placebo-treated patients. Irritability was reported in 6.5% of KEPPRA XR-treated patients. Aggression was reported in 1.3% of KEPPRA XR-treated patients.

No patient discontinued treatment or had a dose reduction as a result of these adverse reactions.

The number of patients exposed to KEPPRA XR was considerably smaller than the number of patients exposed to immediate-release KEPPRA tablets in controlled trials. Therefore, certain adverse reactions observed in the immediate-release KEPPRA controlled trials may also occur in patients receiving KEPPRA XR.

Immediate-Release KEPPRA Tablets

In controlled trials of immediate-release KEPPRA tablets in patients experiencing partial onset seizures, immediate-release KEPPRA causes the occurrence of central nervous system adverse reactions that can be classified into the following categories: 1) somnolence and fatigue, 2) coordination difficulties, and 3) behavioral abnormalities.

In controlled trials of adult patients with epilepsy experiencing partial onset seizures, 14.8% of immediate-release KEPPRA-treated patients reported somnolence, compared to 8.4% of placebo patients. There was no clear dose response up to 3000 mg/day.

In controlled trials of adult patients with epilepsy experiencing partial onset seizures, 14.7% of treated patients reported asthenia, compared to 9.1% of placebo patients.

A total of 3.4% of immediate-release KEPPRA-treated patients experienced coordination difficulties, (reported as either ataxia, abnormal gait, or incoordination) compared to 1.6% of placebo patients.

Somnolence, asthenia and coordination difficulties occurred most frequently within the first 4 weeks of treatment.

In controlled trials of patients with epilepsy experiencing partial onset seizures, 5 (0.7%) immediate-release KEPPRA-treated patients experienced psychotic symptoms compared to 1 (0.2%) placebo patient.

A total of 13.3% of immediate-release KEPPRA patients experienced other behavioral symptoms (reported as aggression, agitation, anger, anxiety, apathy, depersonalization, depression, emotional lability, hostility, irritability, etc.) compared to 6.2% of placebo patients.

Withdrawal Seizures

Antiepileptic drugs, including KEPPRA XR, should be withdrawn gradually to minimize the potential of increased seizure frequency.

Hematologic Abnormalities

Although there were no obvious hematologic abnormalities observed in treated patients in the KEPPRA XR controlled study, the limited number of patients makes any conclusion tentative. The data from the partial seizure patients in the immediate-release KEPPRA controlled studies should be considered to be relevant for KEPPRA XR-treated patients.

In controlled trials of immediate-release KEPPRA tablets in patients experiencing partial onset seizures, minor, but statistically significant, decreases compared to placebo in total mean RBC count (0.03 x 106/mm3), mean hemoglobin (0.09 g/dL), and mean hematocrit (0.38%), were seen in immediate-release KEPPRA-treated patients. A total of 3.2% of treated and 1.8% of placebo patients had at least one possibly significant (≤2.8 x 109/L) decreased WBC, and 2.4% of treated and 1.4% of placebo patients had at least one possibly significant (≤1.0 x 109/L) decreased neutrophil count. Of the treated patients with a low neutrophil count, all but one rose towards or to baseline with continued treatment. No patient was discontinued secondary to low neutrophil counts.

Hepatic Abnormalities

There were no meaningful changes in mean liver function tests (LFT) in the KEPPRA XR controlled trial. No patients were discontinued from the controlled trial for LFT abnormalities.

There were no meaningful changes in mean liver function tests (LFT) in controlled trials of immediate-release KEPPRA tablets in adult patients; lesser LFT abnormalities were similar in drug and placebo-treated patients in controlled trials (1.4%). No patients were discontinued from controlled trials for LFT abnormalities except for 1 (0.07%) adult epilepsy patient receiving open treatment.

Laboratory Tests

Although effects on laboratory tests were not clinically significant with KEPPRA XR treatment, it is expected that the data from immediate-release KEPPRA tablets controlled studies would be considered relevant for KEPPRA XR-treated patients.

Although most laboratory tests are not systematically altered with immediate-release KEPPRA treatment, there have been relatively infrequent abnormalities seen in hematologic parameters and liver function tests.

USE IN SPECIFIC POPULATIONS

Pregnancy

Pregnancy Category C

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. In animal studies, levetiracetam produced evidence of developmental toxicity, including teratogenic effects, at doses similar to or greater than human therapeutic doses. KEPPRA XR should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. As with other antiepileptic drugs, physiological changes during pregnancy may affect levetiracetam concentration. There have been reports of decreased levetiracetam concentration during pregnancy. Discontinuation of antiepileptic treatments may result in disease worsening, which can be harmful to the mother and the fetus.

Oral administration of levetiracetam to female rats throughout pregnancy and lactation led to increased incidences of minor fetal skeletal abnormalities and retarded offspring growth pre- and/or postnatally at doses ≥350 mg/kg/day (approximately equivalent to the maximum recommended human dose of 3000 mg [MRHD] on a mg/m2 basis) and with increased pup mortality and offspring behavioral alterations at a dose of 1800 mg/kg/day (6 times the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis). The developmental no effect dose was 70 mg/kg/day (0.2 times the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis). There was no overt maternal toxicity at the doses used in this study.

Oral administration of levetiracetam to pregnant rabbits during the period of organogenesis resulted in increased embryofetal mortality and increased incidences of minor fetal skeletal abnormalities at doses ≥600 mg/kg/day (approximately 4 times MRHD on a mg/m2 basis) and in decreased fetal weights and increased incidences of fetal malformations at a dose of 1800 mg/kg/day (12 times the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis). The developmental no effect dose was 200 mg/kg/day (1.3 times the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis). Maternal toxicity was also observed at 1800 mg/kg/day.

When levetiracetam was administered orally to pregnant rats during the period of organogenesis, fetal weights were decreased and the incidence of fetal skeletal variations was increased at a dose of 3600 mg/kg/day (12 times the MRHD). 1200 mg/kg/day (4 times the MRHD) was a developmental no effect dose. There was no evidence of maternal toxicity in this study.

Treatment of rats with levetiracetam during the last third of gestation and throughout lactation produced no adverse developmental or maternal effects at oral doses of up to 1800 mg/kg/day (6 times the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis).

Pregnancy Registries

To provide information regarding the effects of in utero exposure to KEPPRA XR, physicians are advised to recommend that pregnant patients taking KEPPRA XR enroll in the North American Antiepileptic Drug (NAAED) pregnancy registry. This can be done by calling the toll free number 1-888-233-2334, and must be done by the patients themselves. Information on the registry can also be found at the website http://www.aedpregnancyregistry.org/.

UCB, Inc. has established the UCB AED Pregnancy Registry to advance scientific knowledge about safety and outcomes in pregnant women being treated with all UCB antiepileptic drugs including KEPPRA XR. To ensure broad program access and reach, either a healthcare provider or the patient can initiate enrollment in the UCB AED Pregnancy Registry by calling (888) 537-7734 (toll free).

Labor And Delivery

The effect of KEPPRA XR on labor and delivery in humans is unknown.

Nursing Mothers

Levetiracetam is excreted in breast milk. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from KEPPRA XR, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness of KEPPRA XR in patients below the age of 16 years have not been established.

Geriatric Use

There were insufficient numbers of elderly subjects in controlled trials of epilepsy to adequately assess the effectiveness of KEPPRA XR in these patients. It is expected that the safety of KEPPRA XR in elderly patients 65 and over would be comparable to the safety observed in clinical studies of immediate-release KEPPRA tablets.

Of the total number of subjects in clinical studies of immediate-release levetiracetam, 347 were 65 and over. No overall differences in safety were observed between these subjects and younger subjects. There were insufficient numbers of elderly subjects in controlled trials of epilepsy to adequately assess the effectiveness of immediate-release KEPPRA in these patients.

A study in 16 elderly subjects (age 61-88 years) with oral administration of single dose and multiple twice-daily doses of immediate-release KEPPRA tablets for 10 days showed no pharmacokinetic differences related to age alone.

Levetiracetam is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of adverse reactions to this drug may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection, and it may be useful to monitor renal function.

Use In Patients With Impaired Renal Function

The effect of KEPPRA XR on renally impaired patients was not assessed in the well-controlled study. However, it is expected that the effect on KEPPRA XR-treated patients would be similar to the effect seen in well-controlled studies of immediate-release KEPPRA tablets. Caution should be taken in dosing patients with moderate and severe renal impairment and in patients undergoing hemodialysis. The dosage should be reduced in patients with impaired renal function receiving KEPPRA XR [ see Clinical Pharmacology and Dosage and Administration ].

Clearance of immediate-release levetiracetam is decreased in patients with renal impairment and is correlated with creatinine clearance.

Page last updated: 2009-05-21

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