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Cymbalta ® (duloxetine)
Cymbalta (duloxetine): Special warnings and precautions for use
Cymbalta (duloxetine) should be used with caution in some patients
Mania and seizures
Cymbalta should be used with caution in patients with a history of mania or a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and/or seizures.
Mydriasis has been reported in association with duloxetine, therefore, caution should be used when prescribing Cymbalta to patients with increased intraocular pressure, or those at risk of acute narrow-angle glaucoma.
Blood pressure and heart rate
Duloxetine has been associated with an increase in blood pressure and clinically significant hypertension in some patients. This may be due to the noradrenergic effect of duloxetine. Cases of hypertensive crisis have been reported with duloxetine, especially in patients with pre-existing hypertension. Therefore, in patients with known hypertension and/or other cardiac disease, blood pressure monitoring is recommended, especially during the first month of treatment. Duloxetine should be used with caution in patients whose conditions could be compromised by an increased heart rate or by an increase in blood pressure. Caution should also be exercised when duloxetine is used with medicinal products that may impair its metabolism. For patients who experience a sustained increase in blood pressure while receiving duloxetine either dose reduction or gradual discontinuation should be considered. In patients with uncontrolled hypertension duloxetine should not be initiated.
Increased plasma concentrations of duloxetine occur in patients with severe renal impairment on haemodialysis (creatinine clearance <30 ml/min). For patients with severe renal impairment, see section 4.3. See section 4.2 for information on patients with mild or moderate renal dysfunction.
As with other serotonergic agents, serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition, may occur with duloxetine treatment, particularly with concomitant use of other serotonergic agents (including SSRIs, SNRIs tricyclic antidepressants or triptans), with agents that impair metabolism of serotonin such as MAOIs, or with antipsychotics or other dopamine antagonists that may affect the serotonergic neurotransmitter systems.
Serotonin syndrome symptoms may include mental status changes (e.g., agitation, hallucinations, coma), autonomic instability (e.g., tachycardia, labile blood pressure, hyperthermia), neuromuscular aberrations (e.g. hyperreflexia, incoordination) and/or gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea).
If concomitant treatment with duloxetine and other serotonergic agents that may affect the serotonergic and/or dopaminergic neurotransmitter systems is clinically warranted, careful observation of the patient is advised, particularly during treatment initiation and dose increases.
St John’s wort
Adverse reactions may be more common during concomitant use of Cymbalta and herbal preparations containing St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum).
Major Depressive Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder: Depression is associated with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts, self harm and suicide (suicide-related events). This risk persists until significant remission occurs. As improvement may not occur during the first few weeks or more of treatment, patients should be closely monitored until such improvement occurs. It is general clinical experience that the risk of suicide may increase in the early stages of recovery.
Other psychiatric conditions for which Cymbalta is prescribed can also be associated with an increased risk of suicide-related events. In addition, these conditions may be co-morbid with major depressive disorder. The same precautions observed when treating patients with major depressive disorder should therefore be observed when treating patients with other psychiatric disorders.
Patients with a history of suicide-related events or those exhibiting a significant degree of suicidal thoughts prior to commencement of treatment are known to be at greater risk of suicidal thoughts or suicidal behaviour, and should receive careful monitoring during treatment. A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled clinical trials of antidepressant medicinal products in psychiatric disorders showed an increased risk of suicidal behaviour with antidepressants compared to placebo in patients less than 25 years old.
Cases of suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviours have been reported during duloxetine therapy or early after treatment discontinuation.
Close supervision of patients and in particular those at high risk should accompany medicinal product therapy especially in early treatment and following dose changes. Patients (and caregivers of patients) should be alerted about the need to monitor for any clinical worsening, suicidal behaviour or thoughts and unusual changes in behaviour and to seek medical advice immediately if these symptoms present.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathic Pain: As with other medicinal products with similar pharmacological action (antidepressants), isolated cases of suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviours have been reported during duloxetine therapy or early after treatment discontinuation. Concerning risk factors for suicidality in depression, see above. Physicians should encourage patients to report any distressing thoughts or feelings at any time.
Use in children and adolescents under 18 years of age
Cymbalta should not be used in the treatment of children and adolescents under the age of 18 years. Suicide-related behaviours (suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts), and hostility (predominantly aggression, oppositional behaviour and anger), were more frequently observed in clinical trials among children and adolescents treated with antidepressants compared to those treated with placebo. If, based on clinical need, a decision to treat is nevertheless taken, the patient should be carefully monitored for the appearance of suicidal symptoms. In addition, long-term safety data in children and adolescents concerning growth, maturation and cognitive and behavioural development are lacking.
There have been reports of bleeding abnormalities, such as ecchymoses, purpura and gastrointestinal haemorrhage with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin/noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), including duloxetine. Duloxetine may increase the risk of postpartum haemorrhage. Caution is advised in patients taking anticoagulants and/or medicinal products known to affect platelet function (e.g. NSAIDs or acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)), and in patients with known bleeding tendencies.
Hyponatraemia has been reported when administering Cymbalta, including cases with serum sodium lower than 110 mmol/l. Hyponatraemia may be due to a syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone secretion (SIADH). The majority of cases of hyponatraemia were reported in the elderly, especially when coupled with a recent history of, or condition pre-disposing to, altered fluid balance. Caution is required in patients at increased risk for hyponatraemia, such as elderly, cirrhotic, or dehydrated patients or patients treated with diuretics.
Discontinuation of treatment
Withdrawal symptoms when treatment is discontinued are common, particularly if discontinuation is abrupt. In clinical trials adverse events seen on abrupt treatment discontinuation occurred in approximately 45% of patients treated with Cymbalta and 23% of patients taking placebo. The risk of withdrawal symptoms seen with SSRI’s and SNRI’s may be dependent on several factors including the duration and dose of therapy and the rate of dose reduction. The most commonly reported reactions are listed in section 4.8. Generally these symptoms are mild to moderate, however, in some patients they may be severe in intensity. They usually occur within the first few days of discontinuing treatment, but there have been very rare reports of such symptoms in patients who have inadvertently missed a dose. Generally these symptoms are self-limiting and usually resolve within 2 weeks, though in some individuals they may be prolonged (2-3 months or more). It is therefore advised that duloxetine should be gradually tapered when discontinuing treatment over a period of no less than 2 weeks, according to the patient’s needs.
Data on the use of Cymbalta 120 mg in elderly patients with major depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder are limited. Therefore, caution should be exercised when treating the elderly with the maximum dosage.
The use of duloxetine has been associated with the development of akathisia, characterised by a subjectively unpleasant or distressing restlessness and need to move often accompanied by an inability to sit or stand still. This is most likely to occur within the first few weeks of treatment. In patients who develop these symptoms, increasing the dose may be detrimental.
Medicinal products containing duloxetine
Duloxetine is used under different trademarks in several indications (treatment of diabetic neuropathic pain, major depressive disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and stress urinary incontinence). The use of more than one of these products concomitantly should be avoided.
Hepatitis/increased liver enzymes
Cases of liver injury, including severe elevations of liver enzymes (>10 times upper limit of normal), hepatitis and jaundice have been reported with duloxetine. Most of them occurred during the first months of treatment. The pattern of liver damage was predominantly hepatocellular. Duloxetine should be used with caution in patients treated with other medicinal products associated with hepatic injury.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)/serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may cause symptoms of sexual dysfunction. There have been reports of long-lasting sexual dysfunction where the symptoms have continued despite discontinuation of SSRIs/SNRI.
Cymbalta hard gastro-resistant capsules contain sucrose. Patients with rare hereditary problems of fructose intolerance, glucose-galactose malabsorption or sucrase-isomaltase insufficiency should not take this medicine.
This medicine contains less than 1 mmol sodium (23 mg) per capsule, that is to say essentially ‘sodium-free’.
Cymbalta [Summary of Product Characteristics]. Utrecht, The Netherlands: Eli Lilly Nederland B.V.
Date of Last Review: July 31, 2020