Available data have not suggested an increased risk for major birth defects following exposure to varenicline in pregnancy, compared with women who smoke [see Data]. Smoking during pregnancy is associated with maternal, fetal, and neonatal risks (see Clinical Considerations). In animal studies, varenicline did not result in major malformations but caused decreased fetal weights in rabbits when dosed during organogenesis at exposures equivalent to 50 times the exposure at the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD). Additionally, administration of varenicline to pregnant rats during organogenesis through lactation produced developmental toxicity in offspring at maternal exposures equivalent to 36 times human exposure at the MRHD [see Data].
The estimated background risk of oral clefts is increased by approximately 30% in infants of women who smoke during pregnancy, compared to pregnant women who do not smoke. The background risk of other major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population are unknown. In the US general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2–4% and 15–20%, respectively.
Disease-Associated Maternal and/or Embryo/Fetal Risk
Smoking during pregnancy causes increased risks of orofacial clefts, premature rupture of membranes, placenta previa, placental abruption, ectopic pregnancy, fetal growth restriction and low birth weight, stillbirth, preterm delivery and shortened gestation, neonatal death, sudden infant death syndrome and reduction of lung function in infants. It is not known whether quitting smoking with CHANTIX during pregnancy reduces these risks.
A population-based observational cohort study using the national registers of Denmark and Sweden compared pregnancy and birth outcomes among women exposed to varenicline (N=335, includes 317 first trimester exposed) with women who smoked during pregnancy (N=78,412) and with non-smoking pregnant women (N=806,438). The prevalence of major malformations, the primary outcome, was similar in all groups, including between smoking and non-smoking groups. The prevalence of adverse perinatal outcomes in the varenicline-exposed cohort was not greater than in the cohort of women who smoked, and differed somewhat between the three cohorts. The prevalences of the primary and secondary outcomes are shown in Table 6.
The study limitations include the inability to capture malformations in pregnancies that do not result in a live birth, and possible misclassification of outcome and of exposure to varenicline or to smoking.
Other small epidemiological studies of pregnant women exposed to varenicline did not identify an association with major malformations, consistent with the Danish and Swedish observational cohort study. Methodological limitations of these studies include small samples and lack of adequate controls.
Overall, available studies cannot definitely establish or exclude any varenicline-associated risk during pregnancy.
Pregnant rats and rabbits received varenicline succinate during organogenesis at oral doses up to 15 and 30 mg/kg/day, respectively. While no fetal structural abnormalities occurred in either species, maternal toxicity, characterized by reduced body weight gain, and reduced fetal weights occurred in rabbits at the highest dose (exposures 50 times the human exposure at the MRHD of 1 mg twice daily based on AUC). Fetal weight reduction did not occur in rabbits at exposures 23 times the human exposure at the MRHD based on AUC.
In a pre- and postnatal development study, pregnant rats received up to 15 mg/kg/day of oral varenicline succinate from organogenesis through lactation. Maternal toxicity, characterized by a decrease in body weight gain was observed at 15 mg/kg/day (36 times the human exposure at the MRHD based on AUC). However, decreased fertility and increased auditory startle response occurred in offspring at the highest maternal dose of 15 mg/kg/day.
There are no data on the presence of varenicline in human milk, the effects on the breastfed infant, or the effects on milk production. In animal studies varenicline was present in milk of lactating rats [see Data]. However, due to species-specific differences in lactation physiology, animal data may not reliably predict drug levels in human milk. The lack of clinical data during lactation precludes a clear determination of the risk of CHANTIX to an infant during lactation; however the developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother's clinical need for CHANTIX and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed child from CHANTIX or from the underlying maternal condition.
Because there are no data on the presence of varenicline in human milk and the effects on the breastfed infant, breastfeeding women should monitor their infant for seizures and excessive vomiting, which are adverse reactions that have occurred in adults that may be clinically relevant in breastfeeding infants.
In a pre- and postnatal development study, pregnant rats received up to 15 mg/kg/day of oral varenicline succinate through gestation and lactation Mean serum concentrations of varenicline in the nursing pups were 5–22% of maternal serum concentrations.
CHANTIX is not recommended for use in pediatric patients 16 years of age or younger because its efficacy in this population was not demonstrated.
Single and multiple-dose pharmacokinetics of varenicline have been investigated in pediatric patients aged 12 to 17 years old (inclusive) and were approximately dose-proportional over the 0.5 mg to 2 mg daily dose range studied. Steady-state systemic exposure in adolescent patients of bodyweight >55 kg, as assessed by AUC (0-24), was comparable to that noted for the same doses in the adult population. When 0.5 mg BID was given, steady-state daily exposure of varenicline was, on average, higher (by approximately 40%) in adolescent patients with bodyweight ≤55 kg compared to that noted in the adult population.
The efficacy and safety of varenicline was evaluated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 312 patients aged 12 to 19 years, who smoked an average of at least 5 cigarettes per day during the 30 days prior to recruitment, had a score of at least 4 on the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence scale, and at least one previous failed quit attempt. Patients were stratified by age (12 to 16 years of age, n=216 and 17 to 19 years of age, n=96) and by body weight (≤55 kg and >55 kg). Patients were randomized to one of two doses of varenicline, adjusted by weight to provide plasma levels in the efficacious range (based on adult studies) and placebo. Patients received treatment for 12 weeks, followed by a non-treatment period of 40 weeks, along with age-appropriate counseling throughout the study. Results from this study showed that varenicline, at either dose studied, did not improve continuous abstinence rates at weeks 9 through 12 of treatment compared with placebo in subjects 12 to 19 years of age. The varenicline safety profile in this study was consistent with that observed in adult studies.
A combined single- and multiple-dose pharmacokinetic study demonstrated that the pharmacokinetics of 1 mg varenicline given once daily or twice daily to 16 healthy elderly male and female smokers (aged 65–75 years) for 7 consecutive days was similar to that of younger subjects. No overall differences in safety or effectiveness were observed between these subjects and younger subjects, and other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients, but greater sensitivity of some older individuals cannot be ruled out.
Varenicline is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of toxic 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 [see Dosage and Administration (2.2)].
No dosage adjustment is recommended for elderly patients.
Varenicline is substantially eliminated by renal glomerular filtration along with active tubular secretion. Dose reduction is not required in patients with mild to moderate renal impairment. For patients with severe renal impairment (estimated creatinine clearance <30 mL/min), and for patients with end-stage renal disease undergoing hemodialysis, dosage adjustment is needed [see Dosage and Administration (2.2), Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].
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