AUDIENCE: Patient, Health Professional, Pharmacy, Allergy and Immunology
ISSUE: FDA is strengthening existing warnings about serious behavior and mood-related changes with montelukast (Singulair and generics), which is a prescription medicine for asthma and allergy. FDA is taking this action after a review of available information that led us to reevaluate the benefits and risks of montelukast use. Montelukast prescribing information already includes warnings about mental health side effects, including suicidal thoughts or actions; however, many health care professionals and patients/caregivers are not aware of the risk. We decided a stronger warning is needed after conducting an extensive review of available information and convening a panel of outside experts, and therefore determined that a Boxed Warning was appropriate.
BACKGROUND: Montelukast is FDA-approved for asthma and allergies. It is a prescription medicine approved to prevent asthma attacks and for the long-term treatment of asthma in adults and children 1 year and older. It is approved to prevent exercise-induced asthma in patients 6 years and older. Montelukast is also approved to control the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, such as sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, and itching of the nose. It is used to treat seasonal outdoor allergies in patients 2 years and older, and year-round indoor allergies in patients 6 months and older.
RECOMMENDATION: Patients should talk with your health care professional about:
- the benefits and risks of montelukast, as many other safe and effective allergy medicines are widely available.
- any history of mental illness before starting treatment.
Health Professionals should:
- Ask patients about any history of psychiatric illness prior to initiating treatment.
- Consider the risks and benefits of montelukast when deciding to prescribe or continue patients on the medicine.
- Advise all patients of the risk of neuropsychiatric events when prescribing montelukast. Warnings about these side effects are included in the existing prescribing information; however, many health care professionals and patients/caregivers are not aware of this risk, and suicides and other adverse events continue to be reported.
- Advise patients and parents/caregivers that the patient should stop taking montelukast and contact a health care professional immediately if changes in behavior or new neuropsychiatric symptoms, suicidal thoughts or behavior occur.
- Monitor all patients treated with montelukast for neuropsychiatric symptoms. Events have occurred in patients with and without pre-existing psychiatric disease.
- Encourage patients and parents/caregivers to read the Medication Guide they receive with their montelukast prescriptions, which explains the safety risks and provides other important information.
Health care professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:
- Complete and submit the report online
- Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on form or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178
[03/04/2020 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]