News from the FDA/CDC

FDA issues stronger warning on neuropsychiatric event risk linked to montelukast


The Food and Drug Administration has issued a Drug Safety Communication that strengthens existing warnings about serious mood- and behavior-related changes associated with montelukast (Singulair), a prescription drug for asthma and allergy.

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The new boxed warning advises health care providers to avoid prescribing montelukast for patients with mild symptoms, particularly those with allergic rhinitis, the FDA said in a press release. The drug was first approved in 1998, and the product labeling was updated in 2008 to include information about neuropsychiatric adverse events reported with usage of montelukast.

While the Sentinel study, along with other observational studies, did not find an increased risk of mental health side effects with montelukast treatment, compared with inhaled corticosteroids, those studies had limitations that may have affected results, the FDA said in the Drug Safety Communication. However, the FDA has continued to receive reports of neuropsychiatric events – including agitation, depression, sleeping problems, and suicidal thoughts and actions – in patients receiving the medication.

“The incidence of neuropsychiatric events associated with montelukast is unknown, but some reports are serious, and many patients and health care professionals are not fully aware of these risks,” Sally Seymour, MD, director of the division of pulmonary, allergy and rheumatology products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the press release. “There are many other safe and effective medications to treat allergies with extensive history of use and safety, such that many products are available over the counter without a prescription.”

In addition to the boxed warning, the FDA now requires a new medication guide to be given to patients with each montelukast prescription, the FDA said.

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