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Levetiracetam Injection Warnings and Precautions

5 WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS

5.1 Behavioral Abnormalities and Psychotic Symptoms

Levetiracetam may cause behavioral abnormalities and psychotic symptoms. Patients treated with levetiracetam should be monitored for psychiatric signs and symptoms.

Behavioral abnormalities

In clinical studies using an oral formulation of levetiracetam, 13% of adult levetiracetam-treated patients and 38% of pediatric levetiracetam-treated patients (4 to 16 years of age), compared to 6% and 19% of adult and pediatric placebo-treated patients, experienced non-psychotic behavioral symptoms (reported as aggression, agitation, anger, anxiety, apathy, depersonalization, depression, emotional lability, hostility, hyperkinesias, irritability, nervousness, neurosis, and personality disorder).

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was performed to assess the neurocognitive and behavioral effects of an oral formulation of levetiracetam as adjunctive therapy in pediatric patients (4 to 16 years of age). The results from an exploratory analysis indicated a worsening in levetiracetam-treated patients on aggressive behavior (one of eight behavior dimensions), as measured in a standardized and systematic way using a validated instrument, the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL/6–18).

In clinical studies in pediatric patients 1 month to < 4 years of age, irritability was reported in 12% of the levetiracetam-treated patients compared to 0% of placebo-treated patients.

In clinical studies, 1.7% of adult levetiracetam-treated patients discontinued treatment due to behavioral adverse reactions, compared to 0.2% of placebo-treated patients. The treatment dose was reduced in 0.8% of adult levetiracetam-treated patients and in 0.5% of placebo-treated patients. Overall, 11% of levetiracetam-treated pediatric patients experienced behavioral symptoms associated with discontinuation or dose reduction, compared to 6% of placebo-treated patients.

Psychotic symptoms

In clinical studies using an oral formulation of levetiracetam, 1% of levetiracetam-treated adult patients, 2% of levetiracetam-treated pediatric patients 4 to 16 years of age, and 17% of levetiracetam-treated pediatric patients 1 month to < 4 years of age experienced psychotic symptoms, compared to 0.2%, 2%, and 5% in the corresponding age groups treated with placebo. In a controlled study that assessed the neurocognitive and behavioral effects of an oral formulation of levetiracetam in pediatric patients 4 to 16 years of age, 1.6% of levetiracetam-treated patients experienced paranoia, compared to 0% of placebo-treated patients. In the same study, 3.1% of levetiracetam-treated patients experienced confusional state, compared to 0% of placebo-treated patients [see Use in Specific Populations (8.4)].

In clinical studies, two (0.3%) levetiracetam-treated adult patients were hospitalized, and their treatment was discontinued due to psychosis. Both events, reported as psychosis, developed within the first week of treatment and resolved within 1 to 2 weeks following treatment discontinuation. There was no difference between drug- and placebo-treated patients in the incidence of the pediatric patients who discontinued treatment due to psychotic and non-psychotic adverse reactions.

5.2 Somnolence and Fatigue

Levetiracetam may cause somnolence and fatigue. Patients should be monitored for somnolence and fatigue, and be advised not to drive or operate machinery until they have gained sufficient experience on levetiracetam to gauge whether it adversely affects their ability to drive or operate machinery.

Somnolence

In controlled clinical studies using an oral formulation of levetiracetam in adult patients with partial-onset seizures, 15% of levetiracetam-treated patients reported somnolence, compared to 8% of placebo-treated patients. There was no clear dose response up to 3000 mg/day. In a study in which there was no titration, about 45% of patients receiving levetiracetam 4000 mg/day reported somnolence. The somnolence was considered serious in 0.3% of levetiracetam-treated patients, compared to 0% in the placebo group. About 3% of levetiracetam-treated patients discontinued treatment due to somnolence, compared to 0.7% of placebo-treated patients. In 1.4% of levetiracetam-treated patients and 0.9% of placebo-treated patients, the dose was reduced, while 0.3% of the levetiracetam-treated patients were hospitalized due to somnolence.

Asthenia

In controlled clinical studies using an oral formulation of levetiracetam in adult patients with partial-onset seizures, 15% of levetiracetam-treated patients reported asthenia, compared to 9% of placebo-treated patients. Treatment was discontinued due to asthenia in 0.8% of levetiracetam-treated patients as compared to 0.5% of placebo-treated patients. In 0.5% of levetiracetam-treated patients and in 0.2% of placebo-treated patients, the dose was reduced due to asthenia.

Somnolence and asthenia occurred most frequently within the first 4 weeks of treatment. In general, the incidences of somnolence and fatigue in the pediatric partial-onset seizure studies, and in pediatric and adult myoclonic and primary generalized tonic-clonic studies were comparable to those of the adult partial-onset seizure studies.

5.3 Anaphylaxis and Angioedema

Levetiracetam can cause anaphylaxis or angioedema after the first dose or at any time during treatment. Signs and symptoms in cases reported in the postmarketing setting have included hypotension, hives, rash, respiratory distress, and swelling of the face, lip, mouth, eye, tongue, throat, and feet. In some reported cases, reactions were life-threatening and required emergency treatment. If a patient develops signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis or angioedema, levetiracetam should be discontinued and the patient should seek immediate medical attention. Levetiracetam should be discontinued permanently if a clear alternative etiology for the reaction cannot be established [see Contraindications (4)].

5.4 Serious Dermatological Reactions

Serious dermatological reactions, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), have been reported in both pediatric and adult patients treated with levetiracetam. The median time of onset is reported to be 14 to 17 days, but cases have been reported at least four months after initiation of treatment. Recurrence of the serious skin reactions following rechallenge with levetiracetam has also been reported. Levetiracetam should be discontinued at the first sign of a rash, unless the rash is clearly not drug-related. If signs or symptoms suggest SJS/TEN, use of this drug should not be resumed and alternative therapy should be considered.

5.5 Coordination Difficulties

Levetiracetam may cause coordination difficulties.

In controlled clinical studies using an oral formulation of levetiracetam in adult patients with partial-onset seizures, 3.4% of levetiracetam-treated patients experienced coordination difficulties, (reported as ataxia, abnormal gait, or incoordination) compared to 1.6% of placebo-treated patients. A total of 0.4% of patients in controlled clinical studies discontinued levetiracetam treatment due to ataxia, compared to 0% of placebo-treated patients. In 0.7% of levetiracetam-treated patients and in 0.2% of placebo-treated patients, the dose was reduced due to coordination difficulties, while one of the treated patients was hospitalized due to worsening of pre-existing ataxia. These events occurred most frequently within the first 4 weeks of treatment.

Patients should be monitored for signs and symptoms of coordination difficulties and advised not to drive or operate machinery until they have gained sufficient experience on levetiracetam to gauge whether it could adversely affect their ability to drive or operate machinery.

5.6 Withdrawal Seizures

As with most antiepileptic drugs, levetiracetam should generally be withdrawn gradually because of the risk of increased seizure frequency and status epilepticus. But if withdrawal is needed because of a serious adverse reaction, rapid discontinuation can be considered.

5.7 Hematologic Abnormalities

Levetiracetam can cause hematologic abnormalities. Hematologic abnormalities occurred in clinical trials and included decreases in white blood cell (WBC), neutrophil, and red blood cells counts (RBC); decreases in hemoglobin and hematocrit; and increases in eosinophil counts. Cases of agranulocytosis, pancytopenia, and thrombocytopenia have been reported in the postmarketing setting. A complete blood count is recommended in patients experiencing significant weakness, pyrexia, recurrent infections, or coagulation disorders.

Partial-Onset Seizures

Adults

In controlled clinical studies using an oral formulation of levetiracetam in adult patients with partial-onset seizures, minor but statistically significant decreases compared to placebo in total mean RBC (0.03 × 106/mm3), mean hemoglobin (0.09 g/dL), and mean hematocrit (0.38%), were seen in levetiracetam-treated patients.

A total of 3.2% of levetiracetam-treated and 1.8% of placebo-treated patients had at least one possibly significant (≤2.8 × 109/L) decreased WBC, and 2.4% of levetiracetam-treated and 1.4% of placebo-treated patients had at least one possibly significant (≤1.0 × 109/L) decreased neutrophil count. Of the levetiracetam-treated patients with a low neutrophil count, all but one rose towards or to baseline with continued treatment. No patient was discontinued secondary to low neutrophil counts.

Pediatric Patients 4 Years to < 16 Years

In a controlled study in pediatric patients age 4 years to < 16 years, statistically significant decreases in WBC and neutrophil counts were seen in levetiracetam-treated patients, as compared to placebo. The mean decreases from baseline in the levetiracetam-treated group were -0.4 × 109/L and -0.3 × 109/L, respectively, whereas there were small increases in the placebo group. Mean relative lymphocyte counts increased by 1.7% in levetiracetam-treated patients, compared to a decrease of 4% in placebo-treated patients (statistically significant).

More levetiracetam-treated patients had a possibly clinically significant abnormally low WBC value (3% of levetiracetam-treated patients versus 0% of placebo-treated patients); however, there was no apparent difference between treatment groups with respect to neutrophil count (5% on levetiracetam versus 4.2% on placebo). No patient was discontinued because of low WBC or neutrophil count.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to assess the neurocognitive and behavioral effects of an oral formulation of levetiracetam as adjunctive therapy in pediatric patients (4 to 16 years of age), 5 patients (8.6%) in the levetiracetam-treated group and two patients (6.1%) in the placebo-treated group had high eosinophil count values that were possibly clinically significant (≥10% or ≥0.7 × 109/L).

5.8 Increase in Blood Pressure

In a randomized, placebo-controlled study in patients 1 month to < 4 years of age using an oral formulation of levetiracetam, a significantly higher risk of increased diastolic blood pressure was observed in the levetiracetam-treated patients (17%), compared to placebo-treated patients (2%). There was no overall difference in mean diastolic blood pressure between the treatment groups. This disparity between the levetiracetam and placebo treatment groups was not observed in the studies of older children or in adults.

Monitor patients 1 month to < 4 years of age for increases in diastolic blood pressure.

5.9 Seizure Control During Pregnancy

Physiological changes may gradually decrease plasma levels of levetiracetam throughout pregnancy. This decrease is more pronounced during the third trimester. It is recommended that patients be monitored carefully during pregnancy. Close monitoring should continue through the postpartum period especially if the dose was changed during pregnancy.

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