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Axert (Almotriptan Malate) - Warnings and Precautions



Risk of Myocardial Ischemia and Infarction and Other Adverse Cardiac Events

Cardiac Events and Fatalities with 5-HT1 Agonists

Serious adverse cardiac events, including acute myocardial infarction, have been reported within a few hours following administration of AXERT® (almotriptan malate). Life-threatening disturbances of cardiac rhythm and death have been reported within a few hours following the administration of other triptans. Considering the extent of use of triptans in patients with migraine, the incidence of these events is extremely low.

AXERT® can cause coronary vasospasm; at least one of these events occurred in a patient with no cardiac history and with documented absence of coronary artery disease. Because of the close proximity of the events to use of AXERT®, a causal relationship cannot be excluded. Patients who experience signs or symptoms suggestive of angina following dosing should be evaluated for the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD) or a predisposition to Prinzmetal's variant angina before receiving additional doses of medication, and should be monitored electrocardiographically if dosing is resumed and similar symptoms recur.

Premarketing Experience with AXERT® in Adults

Among the 3865 subjects/patients who received AXERT® in premarketing clinical trials, one patient was hospitalized for observation after a scheduled electrocardiogram (ECG) was found to be abnormal (negative T-waves on the left leads) 48 hours after taking a single 6.25 mg dose of almotriptan. The patient, a 48-year-old female, had previously taken 3 other doses for earlier migraine attacks. Myocardial enzymes at the time of the abnormal ECG were normal. The patient was diagnosed as having had myocardial ischemia and that she had a family history of coronary disease. An ECG performed 2 days later was normal, as was a follow-up coronary angiography. The patient recovered without incident.

Postmarketing Experience with AXERT® in Adults

Serious cardiovascular events have been reported in association with the use of AXERT®. The uncontrolled nature of postmarketing surveillance, however, makes it impossible to definitively determine the proportion of the reported cases that were actually caused by almotriptan or to reliably assess causation in individual cases [see Adverse Reactions].

Patients with Documented Coronary Artery Disease

Because of the potential of this class of compound (5-HT1 agonists) to cause coronary vasospasm, AXERT® should not be given to patients with documented ischemic or vasospastic coronary artery disease [see Contraindications].

Patients with Risk Factors for CAD

It is strongly recommended that AXERT® not be given to patients in whom unrecognized CAD is predicted by the presence of risk factors (e.g., hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, smoker, obesity, diabetes, strong family history of CAD, female with surgical or physiological menopause, or male over 40 years of age) unless a cardiovascular evaluation provides satisfactory clinical evidence that the patient is reasonably free of coronary artery and ischemic myocardial disease or other significant underlying cardiovascular disease. The sensitivity of cardiac diagnostic procedures to detect cardiovascular disease or predisposition to coronary artery vasospasm is modest, at best. If, during the cardiovascular evaluation, the patient's medical history, electrocardiographic or other investigations reveal findings indicative of, or consistent with, coronary artery vasospasm or myocardial ischemia, AXERT® should not be administered [see Contraindications].

For patients with risk factors predictive of CAD, who are determined to have a satisfactory cardiovascular evaluation, it is strongly recommended that administration of the first dose of AXERT® take place in the setting of a physician's office or similar medically staffed and equipped facility unless the patient has previously received AXERT®. Because cardiac ischemia can occur in the absence of clinical symptoms, consideration should be given to obtaining on the first occasion of use an ECG during the interval immediately following AXERT®, in these patients with risk factors. It is recommended that patients who are intermittent long-term users of AXERT® and who have or acquire risk factors predictive of CAD, as described above, undergo periodic interval cardiovascular evaluation as they continue to use AXERT®.

The systematic approach described above is intended to reduce the likelihood that patients with unrecognized cardiovascular disease will be inadvertently exposed to AXERT®. The ability of cardiac diagnostic procedures to detect all cardiovascular diseases or predisposition to coronary artery vasospasm is modest at best. Cardiovascular events associated with triptan treatment have occurred in patients with no cardiac history and with documented absence of coronary artery disease.

Sensations of Pain, Tightness, Pressure in the Chest and/or Throat, Neck, and Jaw

As with other 5-HT1 agonists, sensations of tightness, pain, pressure, and heaviness in the precordium, throat, neck, and jaw have been reported after treatment with AXERT®. Because 5-HT1 agonists may cause coronary vasospasm, patients who experience signs or symptoms suggestive of angina following dosing should be evaluated for the presence of CAD or a predisposition to Prinzmetal's variant angina before receiving additional doses of medication, and should be monitored electrocardiographically if dosing is resumed and similar symptoms occur. Patients shown to have CAD and those with Prinzmetal's variant angina should not receive 5-HT1 agonists [see Contraindications and Warnings and Precautions].

Cerebrovascular Events and Fatalities

Cerebral hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage, stroke, and other cerebrovascular events have been reported in patients treated with other triptans and some events have resulted in fatalities. In a number of cases, it appeared possible that the cerebrovascular events were primary, the triptan having been administered in the incorrect belief that the symptoms experienced were a consequence of migraine, when they were not. As with other acute migraine therapies, before treating headaches in patients not previously diagnosed as migraineurs and in migraineurs who present with atypical symptoms, care should be taken to exclude other potentially serious neurological conditions. It should be noted that patients with migraine may be at increased risk of certain cerebrovascular events (e.g., stroke, hemorrhage, and transient ischemic attack) [see Contraindications].

Other Vasospasm-Related Events, Including Peripheral Vascular Ischemia and Colonic Ischemia

Triptans, including AXERT®, may cause vasospastic reactions other than coronary artery vasospasm, such as peripheral and gastrointestinal vascular ischemia with abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. Very rare reports of transient and permanent blindness and significant partial vision loss have been reported with the use of triptans. Visual disorders may also be part of a migraine attack. Patients who experience symptoms or signs suggestive of decreased arterial flow following the use of any triptan, such as ischemic bowel syndrome or Raynaud's syndrome, are candidates for further evaluation [see Contraindications].

Serotonin Syndrome

The development of a potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome may occur with triptans, including AXERT®, particularly during combined use with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). If concomitant treatment with AXERT® and an SSRI (e.g., fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, fluvoxamine, citalopram, escitalopram) or SNRI (e.g., venlafaxine, duloxetine) is clinically warranted, careful observation of the patient is advised, particularly during treatment initiation and dose increases. 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, diarrhea) [See Drug Interactions].

Medication Overuse Headache

Overuse of acute migraine drugs (e.g., ergotamine, triptans, opioids, or combination of these drugs for 10 or more days per month) may lead to exacerbation of headache (medication overuse headache). Medication overuse headache may present as migraine-like daily headaches or as a marked increase in frequency of migraine attacks. Detoxification of patients, including withdrawal of the overused drugs, and treatment of withdrawal symptoms (which often includes a transient worsening of headache) may be necessary.

Increases in Blood Pressure

As with other triptans, significant elevations in systemic blood pressure have been reported on rare occasions with AXERT® use in patients with and without a history of hypertension; very rarely these increases in blood pressure have been associated with significant clinical events. AXERT® is contraindicated in patients with uncontrolled hypertension [see Contraindications]. In normotensive healthy subjects and patients with hypertension controlled by medication, small, but clinically insignificant, increases in mean systolic (0.21 and 4.87 mm Hg, respectively) and diastolic (1.35 and 0.26 mm Hg, respectively) blood pressure relative to placebo were seen over the first 4 hours after oral administration of 12.5 mg of almotriptan.

An 18% increase in mean pulmonary artery pressure was seen following dosing with another triptan in a study evaluating subjects undergoing cardiac catheterization.

Hypersensitivity to Sulfonamides

Caution should be exercised when prescribing AXERT® to patients with known hypersensitivity to sulfonamides. The chemical structure of almotriptan contains a sulfonyl group, which is structurally different from a sulfonamide. Cross-sensitivity to almotriptan in patients allergic to sulfonamides has not been systematically evaluated.

Impaired Hepatic or Renal Function

AXERT® should be administered with caution to patients with diseases that may alter the absorption, metabolism, or excretion of drugs, such as those with impaired hepatic or renal function [see Dosage and Administration, and Clinical Pharmacology].

Binding to Melanin-Containing Tissues

When pigmented rats were given a single oral dose of 5 mg/kg of radiolabeled almotriptan, the elimination half-life of radioactivity from the eye was 22 days. This finding suggests that almotriptan and/or its metabolites may bind to melanin in the eye. Because almotriptan could accumulate in melanin-rich tissues over time, there is the possibility that it could cause toxicity in these tissues with extended use. However, no adverse retinal effects related to treatment with almotriptan were noted in a 52-week toxicity study in dogs given up to 12.5 mg/kg/day (resulting in exposure [AUC] to parent drug approximately 20 times that in humans receiving the maximum recommended human dose of 25 mg/day). Although no systematic monitoring of ophthalmologic function was undertaken in clinical trials, and no specific recommendations for ophthalmologic monitoring are offered, prescribers should be aware of the possibility of long-term ophthalmologic effects.

Corneal Opacities

Three male dogs (out of a total of 14 treated) in a 52-week toxicity study of oral almotriptan developed slight corneal opacities that were noted after 51 weeks, but not after 25 weeks of treatment. The doses at which this occurred were 2, 5, and 12.5 mg/kg/day. The opacity reversed after a 4-week drug-free period in the affected dog treated with the highest dose. Systemic exposure (plasma AUC) to parent drug at 2 mg/kg/day was approximately 2.5 times the exposure in humans receiving the maximum recommended human daily dose of 25 mg. A no-effect dose was not established.



Pregnancy Category C

In animal studies, almotriptan produced developmental toxicity (increased embryolethality and fetal skeletal variations, and decreased offspring body weight) at doses greater than those used clinically. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women; therefore, AXERT® (almotriptan malate) should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

When almotriptan (125, 250, 500, or 1000 mg/kg/day) was administered orally to pregnant rats throughout the period of organogenesis, increased incidences of fetal skeletal variations (decreased ossification) were noted at a dose of 250 mg/kg/day or greater and an increase in embryolethality was seen at the highest dose. The no-effect dose for embryo-fetal developmental toxicity in rats (125 mg/kg/day) is approximately 100 times the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 25 mg/day on a body surface area (mg/m2) basis. Similar studies in pregnant rabbits conducted with almotriptan (oral doses of 5, 20, or 60 mg/kg/day) demonstrated increases in embryolethality at the highest dose. The no-effect dose for embryo-fetal developmental toxicity in rabbits (20 mg/kg/day) is approximately 15 times the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis. When almotriptan (25, 100, or 400 mg/kg/day) was administered orally to rats throughout the periods of gestation and lactation, gestation length was increased and litter size and offspring body weight were decreased at the highest dose. The decrease in pup weight persisted throughout lactation. The no-effect dose in this study (100 mg/kg/day) is 40 times the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis.

Labor and Delivery

The effect of AXERT® on labor and delivery in humans is unknown.

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether almotriptan is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when AXERT® is administered to a nursing woman. Levels of almotriptan in rat milk were up to 7 times higher than in rat plasma.

Pediatric Use

Safety and efficacy of AXERT® in pediatric patients under the age of 12 years have not been established. The pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and safety of AXERT® have been evaluated in adolescent patients, age 12 to 17 years [see Clinical Pharmacology and Clinical Studies].

In a clinical study, AXERT® 6.25 mg and 12.5 mg were found to be effective for the relief of migraine headache pain in adolescent patients age 12 to 17 years. Efficacy on migraine-associated symptoms (nausea, photophobia, and phonophobia) was not established. The most common adverse reactions (incidence of ≥1%) associated with AXERT® treatment were dizziness, somnolence, headache, paresthesia, nausea, and vomiting [see Adverse Reactions]. The safety and tolerability profile of AXERT® treatment in adolescents is similar to the profile observed in adults.

Postmarketing experience with other triptans include a limited number of reports that describe pediatric patients who have experienced clinically serious adverse events that are similar in nature to those reported rarely in adults.

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of AXERT® did not include sufficient numbers of subjects age 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Clearance of almotriptan was lower in elderly volunteers than in younger individuals, but there were no observed differences in the safety and tolerability between the two populations [see Clinical Pharmacology]. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low dose, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy. The recommended dose of AXERT® for elderly patients with normal renal function for their age is the same as that recommended for younger adults.

Hepatic Impairment

The recommended starting dose of AXERT® in patients with hepatic impairment is 6.25 mg. The maximum daily dose should not exceed 12.5 mg over a 24-hour period [see Dosage and Administration and Clinical Pharmacology].

Renal Impairment

The recommended starting dose of AXERT® in patients with severe renal impairment is 6.25 mg. The maximum daily dose should not exceed 12.5 mg over a 24-hour period [see Dosage and Administration and Clinical Pharmacology].

Page last updated: 2014-08-13

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