Epifri Special Precautions

valproic acid


Full Prescribing Info
Special Precautions
Hepatic Dysfunction: See Contraindications and Warnings.
Pancreatitis: See Warnings.
Hyperammonemia: Hyperammonemia has been reported in association with valproate therapy and may be present despite normal liver function tests. In patients who develop unexplained lethargy and vomiting or changes in mental status, hyperammonemic encephalopathy should be considered and an ammonia level measured. If ammonia is increased, valproate therapy should be discontinued. Appropriate interventions for treatment of hyperammonemia should be initiated, and such patients should undergo investigation for underlying urea cycle disorders (see Contraindications, Urea Cycle Disorders under Warnings and Hyperammonemia and Encephalopathy Associated with Concomitant Topiramate Use as follows).
Asymptomatic elevations of ammonia are more common and when present, require close monitoring of plasma ammonia levels. If the elevation persists, discontinuation of valproate therapy should be considered.
Hyperammonemia and Encephalopathy Associated with Concomitant Topiramate Use: Concomitant administration of topiramate and valproic acid has been associated with hyperammonemia with or without encephalopathy in patients who have tolerated either drugs alone.
Clinical symptoms of hyperammonemic encephalopathy often include acute alterations in level of consciousness and/or cognitive function with lethargy or vomiting. Hypothermia can also be a manifestation of hyperammonemia (see Hypothermia as follows). In most cases, symptoms and signs abated with discontinuation of either drug. This adverse event is not due to a pharmacokinetic interaction.
It is not known if topiramate monotherapy is associated with hyperammonemia.
Patients with inborn errors of metabolism or reduced hepatic mitochondrial activity may be at an increased risk for hyperammonemia with or without encephalopathy. Although not studied, an interaction of topiramate and valproic acid may exacerbate existing defects or unmask deficiencies in susceptible persons (see Contraindications, Urea Cycle Disorders under Warnings and Hyperammonemia previously mentioned).
Hypothermia: Hypothermia, defined as an unintentional drop in body core temperature to <35°C (95°F), has been reported in association with valproate therapy both in conjunction with and in the absence of hyperammonemia. This adverse reaction can also occur in patients using concomitant topiramate with valproate after starting topiramate treatment or after increasing the daily dose of topiramate (see Topiramate under Interactions). Consideration should be given to stopping valproate in patients who develop hypothermia, which may be manifested by a variety of clinical abnormalities including lethargy, confusion, coma and significant alterations in other major organ systems such as the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Clinical management and assessment should include the examination of blood ammonia levels.
General: Because of report of thrombocytopenia (see Warnings), inhibition of the secondary phase of platelet aggregation, and abnormal coagulation parameters, platelet counts and coagulation tests are recommended before initiating therapy and at periodic intervals. It is recommended that patients receiving valproic acid be monitored for platelet count and coagulation parameters prior to planned surgery. Evidence of hemorrhage, bruising or a disorder of hemostasis/coagulation is an indication for reduction of the dosage or withdrawal of therapy.
Since valproate may interact with concurrently administered drugs which are capable of enzyme induction, periodic plasma concentration determinations of valproate and concomitant drugs are recommended during the early course of therapy (see Interactions).
Valproate is partially eliminated in the urine as a keto-metabolite which may lead to a false interpretation of the urine ketone test.
There have been report of altered thyroid function tests associated with valproate. The clinical significance of these is unknown.
There are in vitro studies that suggest valproate stimulates the replication of the HIV and CMV viruses under certain experimental conditions. The clinical consequences, if any, is not known. Additionally, the relevance of these in vitro findings is uncertain for patients receiving maximally suppressive antiretroviral therapy. Nevertheless, these data should be borne in mind when interpreting the results from regular monitoring of the viral load in HIV infected patients receiving valproate or when following CMV infected patients clinically.
Multi-organ Hypersensitivity Reaction: Multi-organ hypersensitivity reactions have been rarely reported in close temporal association after the initiation of valproate therapy in adult and pediatric patients (median time to detection 21 days; range 1 to 40). Although there have been a limited number of reports, many of these cases resulted in hospitalization and at least one death has been reported.
Signs and symptoms of this disorder were diverse; however, patients typically, although not exclusively, presented with fever and rash associated with other organ system involvement. Other associated manifestations may include lymphadenopathy, hepatitis, liver function test abnormalities, hematological abnormalities (e.g., eosinophilia, thrombocytopenia, neutropenia), pruritis, nephritis, oliguria, hepato-renal syndrome, arthralgia, and asthenia. Because the disorder is variable in its expression, other organ system symptoms and signs not noted here may occur. If this reaction is suspected, valproate should be discontinued and an alternative treatment started. Although the existence of cross sensitivity with other drugs that produce this syndrome is unclear, the experience amongst drugs associated with multi-organ hypersensitivity would indicate this to be a possibility.
Information for patients: Patients and guardians should be warned that abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or anorexia could be symptoms of pancreatitis and, therefore, require further medical evaluation promptly.
Patients and guardians should be informed of the signs and symptoms associated with hyperammonemic encephalopathy (see Hyperammonemia previously mentioned) and be told to inform the prescriber if any of these symptoms occur.
Since valproic acid may produce CNS depression, especially when combined with another CNS depressant (e.g., alcohol), patients should be advised not to engage in hazardous activities, such as driving an automobile or operating dangerous machinery, until it is known that they do not become drowsy from the drug.
Since valproic acid has been associated with certain types of birth defects, female patients of childbearing age considering the use of valproic acid should be advised of the risks associated with the use of valproic acid during pregnancy (see Warnings).
Use in Children: Experience has indicated that children under the age of two years are at considerably increased risk of developing fatal hepatotoxicity, especially those with the aforementioned conditions (see Warnings). When valproic acid is used in this patient group, it should be used with extreme caution and as a sole agent. The benefits of seizure control should be weighed against the risks. Above the age of 2 years, experience has indicated that the incidence or fatal hepatotoxicity decreases considerably in progressively older patient groups.
Younger children, especially those receiving enzyme-inducing drugs, will require larger maintenance doses to attain targeted total and unbound valproic acid concentrations.
The variability in free fraction limits the clinical usefulness of monitoring total serum valproic acid concentrations. Interpretation of valproic acid concentrations in children should include consideration of factors that affect hepatic metabolism and protein binding.
Use in Elderly: In elderly patients with dementia revealed drug related somnolence and discontinuation for somnolence (see Somnolence in the Elderly under Warnings). The starting dose should be reduced in these patients, and dosage reductions or discontinuation should be considered in patients with excessive somnolence (see Dosage & Administration).
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