Suicide-related behaviour: Suicide related behaviour (suicide attempts and suicidal ideation) has been reported in patients treated with atomoxetine. In double blind clinical trials, suicide related behaviours were uncommon but more frequently observed among children and adolescents treated with atomoxetine compared to those treated with placebo, where there were no events. ADHD and its related co-morbidities may be associated with increased risk of suicidal ideation and/or behavior. Rigorous clinical monitoring for suicidal ideation or other indicators of potential for suicidal behavior is advised in patients being treated for ADHD. This includes monitoring for the emergence of agitation, irritability, unusual behaviour, and clinical worsening.
Sudden death and pre-existing cardiac abnormalities: Sudden death has been reported in patients with structural cardiac abnormalities who were taking atomoxetine at usual doses. Although some serious structural cardiac abnormalities alone carry an increased risk of sudden death, atomoxetine should only be used with caution in patients with known serious structural cardiac abnormalities and in consultation with a cardiac specialist.
Cardiovascular effects: Atomoxetine can affect heart rate and blood pressure.
Most patients taking atomoxetine experience a modest increase in heart rate (mean <10 bpm) and/or increase in blood pressure (mean <5 mm Hg) (see Adverse Reactions).
However, combined data from controlled and uncontrolled ADHD clinical trials show that approximately 8-12% of children and adolescents, and 6-10% adults experience more pronounced changes in heart rate (20 beats per minute or greater) and blood pressure (15-20 mmHg or greater). Analysis of these clinical trial data showed that approximately 15-26% of children and adolescents, and 27-32% of adults experiencing such changes in blood pressure and heart rate during atomoxetine treatment had sustained or progressive increases. Long-term sustained changes in blood pressure may potentially contribute to clinical consequences such as myocardial hypertrophy.
As a result of these findings, patients who are being considered for treatment with atomoxetine should have a careful history and physical exam to assess for the presence of cardiac disease, and should receive further specialist cardiac evaluation if initial findings suggest such history or disease. It is recommended that heart rate and blood pressure be measured and recorded before treatment is started and, during treatment, after each adjustment of dose and then at least every 6 months to detect possible clinically important increases. For paediatric patients the use of a centile chart is recommended. For adults, current reference guidelines for hypertension should be followed.
Atomoxetine should not be used in patients with severe cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disorders (see Severe Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disorders under Contraindications). Atomoxetine should be used with caution in patients whose underlying medical conditions could be worsened by increases in blood pressure and heart rate, such as patients with hypertension, tachycardia, or cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease.
Patients who develop symptoms such as palpitations, exertional chest pain, unexplained syncope, dyspnoea or other symptoms suggestive of cardiac disease during atomoxetine treatment should undergo a prompt specialist cardiac evaluation.
In addition, atomoxetine should be used with caution in patients with congenital or acquired long QT or a family history of QT prolongation (see Interactions and Adverse Reactions).
Patients should be screened for pre-existing or underlying cardiovascular or cerebrovascular conditions before initiation of treatment with atomoxetine and monitored during the course of treatment.
As orthostatic hypotension has also been reported, atomoxetine should be used with caution in any condition that may predispose patients to hypotension or conditions associated with abrupt heart rate or blood pressure changes.
Cerebrovascular effects: Patients with additional risk factors for cerebrovascular conditions (such as a history of cardiovascular disease, concomitant medications that elevate blood pressure) should be assessed at every visit for neurological signs and symptoms after initiating treatment with atomoxetine.
Hepatic effects: Very rarely, spontaneous reports of liver injury, manifested by elevated hepatic enzymes and bilirubin with jaundice, have been reported. Also very rarely, severe liver injury, including acute liver failure, have been reported. Strattera should be discontinued in patients with jaundice or laboratory evidence of liver injury, and should not be restarted.
Psychotic or manic symptoms: Treatment emergent psychotic or manic symptoms, e.g., hallucinations, delusional thinking, mania or agitation in patients without a prior history of psychotic illness or mania can be caused by atomoxetine at usual doses. If such symptoms occur, consideration should be given to a possible causal role of atomoxetine, and discontinuation of treatment should be considered. The possibility that Strattera will cause the exacerbation of pre-existing psychotic or manic symptoms cannot be excluded.
Aggressive behaviour, hostility or emotional lability: Hostility (predominantly aggression, oppositional behaviour and anger) was more frequently observed in clinical trials among children, adolescents and adults treated with Strattera compared to those treated with placebo. Emotional lability was more frequently observed in clinical trials among children treated with Strattera compared to those treated with placebo. Patients should be closely monitored for the appearance or worsening of aggressive behaviour, hostility or emotional lability.
Possible allergic events: Although uncommon, allergic reactions, including anaphylactic reactions, rash, angioneurotic oedema, and urticaria, have been reported in patients taking atomoxetine.
Seizures: Seizures are a potential risk with atomoxetine. Atomoxetine should be introduced with caution in patients with a history of seizure. Discontinuation of atomoxetine should be considered in any patient developing a seizure or if there is an increase in seizure frequency where no other cause is identified.
Growth and development: Growth and development should be monitored in children and adolescents during treatment with atomoxetine. Patients requiring long-term therapy should be monitored and consideration should be given to dose reduction or interrupting therapy in children and adolescents who are not growing or gaining weight satisfactorily.
Clinical data do not suggest a deleterious effect of atomoxetine on cognition or sexual maturation, however the amount of available long-term data is limited. Therefore, patients requiring long-term therapy should be carefully monitored.
New-onset or worsening of Comorbid Depression, Anxiety and Tics: In a controlled study of paediatric patients with ADHD and co morbid chronic motor tics or Tourette's Disorder, atomoxetine-treated patients did not experience worsening of tics compared to placebotreated patients. In a controlled study of adolescent patients with ADHD and co morbid Major Depressive Disorder, atomoxetine-treated patients did not experience worsening of depression compared to placebo-treated patients. In two controlled studies (one in paediatric patients and one in adult patients) of patients with ADHD and co-morbid anxiety disorders, atomoxetine-treated patients did not experience worsening of anxiety compared to placebo-treated patients.
There have been rare postmarketing reports of anxiety and depression or depressed mood and very rare reports of tics in patients taking atomoxetine (see Adverse Reactions).
Patients who are being treated for ADHD with atomoxetine should be monitored for the appearance or worsening of anxiety symptoms, depressed mood and depression or tics.
Paediatric population under six years of age: Strattera should not be used in patients less than six years of age as efficacy and safety have not been established in this age group.
Other therapeutic use: Strattera is not indicated for the treatment of major depressive episodes and/or anxiety as the results of clinical trials in adults in these conditions, where ADHD is not present, did not show an effect compared to placebo (see Pharmacology: Pharmacodynamics under Actions).
Priapism: Rare post-marketing cases of priapism, defined as painful and non-painful penile erection lasting more than 4 hours, have been reported for paediatric and adult patients treated with Strattera. The erections resolved in cases in which follow-up information was available, some following discontinuation of Strattera. Prompt medical attention is required in the event of suspected priapism.
Effects on ability to drive and use machines: Data on the effects on the ability to drive and use machines are limited. Strattera has a minor influence on the ability to drive and use machines. Atomoxetine has been associated with increased rates of fatigue, somnolence, and dizziness relative to placebo in paediatric and adult patients. Patients should be advised to use caution when driving a car or operating hazardous machinery until they are reasonably certain that their performance is not affected by atomoxetine.