Savella® (milnacipran HCl)

Savella® (milnacipran HCl)

Savella® (milnacipran HCl)

Milnacipran hydrochloride is a selective norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake inhibitor; it inhibits norepinephrine uptake with greater potency than serotonin. It is a racemic mixture with the chemical name: (±)-[1R(S),2S(R)]-2-(aminomethyl)-N,N-diethyl-1­phenylcyclopropanecarboxamide hydrochloride.

Milnacipran hydrochloride is a white to off-white crystalline powder with a melting point of 179°C.

It is freely soluble in water, methanol, ethanol, chloroform, and methylene chloride and sparingly soluble in diethyl ether. It has an empirical formula of C15H23ClN2O and a molecular weight of 282.8 g/mol.

Savella is available for oral administration as film-coated tablets containing 12.5 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg milnacipran hydrochloride. Each tablet also contains dibasic calcium phosphate, povidone, carboxymethylcellulose calcium, colloidal silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate, and talc as inactive ingredients. The film coat contains the following additional inactive ingredients:

12.5 mg: FD&C Blue #2 Aluminum Lake, polyvinyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide

25 mg: Polyvinyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide

50 mg: Polyvinyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide

100 mg: FD&C Red #40 Aluminum Lake, polyvinyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide


Savella is indicated for the management of fibromyalgia. Savella is not approved for use in pediatric patients.

Mechanism of Action

The exact mechanism of the central pain inhibitory action of milnacipran and its ability to improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia in humans are unknown. Preclinical studies have shown that milnacipran is a potent inhibitor of neuronal norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake; milnacipran inhibits norepinephrine uptake with approximately 3-fold higher potency in vitro than serotonin without directly affecting the uptake of dopamine or other neurotransmitters. Milnacipran has no significant affinity for serotonergic (5-HT1-7), α- and β-adrenergic, muscarinic (M1-5), histamine (H1-4), dopamine (D1-5), opiate, benzodiazepine, and γ­aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in vitro. Pharmacologic activity at these receptors is hypothesized to be associated with the various anticholinergic, sedative, and cardiovascular effects seen with other psychotropic drugs.

Milnacipran has no significant affinity for Ca++, K+, Na+ and Cl– channels and does not inhibit the activity of human monoamine oxidases (MAO-A and MAO-B) or acetylcholinesterase.


Savella is given orally with or without food. Taking Savella with food may improve the tolerability of the drug.

Recommended Dosing

The recommended dose of Savella is 100 mg/day (50 mg twice daily). Based on efficacy and tolerability dosing may be titrated according to the following schedule:

Day 1: 12.5 mg once

Days 2-3: 25 mg/day (12.5 mg twice daily)

Days 4-7: 50 mg/day (25 mg twice daily)

After Day 7: 100 mg/day (50 mg twice daily)


Based on individual patient response, the dose may be increased to 200 mg/day (100 mg twice daily). Doses above 200 mg/day have not been studied.

Savella should be tapered and not abruptly discontinued after extended use

Discontinuing Savella

Withdrawal symptoms have been observed in clinical trials following discontinuation of milnacipran, as with other serotonin and norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Patients should be monitored for these symptoms when discontinuing treatment. Savella should be tapered and not abruptly discontinued after extended use.

Switching a Patient to or from a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI) Intended to Treat Psychiatric Disorders

At least 14 days should elapse between discontinuation of a MAOI intended to treat psychiatric disorders and initiation of therapy with Savella. Conversely, at least 5 days should be allowed after stopping Savella before starting a MAOI intended to treat psychiatric disorders.

Use of Savella with other MAOIs such as Linezolid or Methylene Blue

Do not start Savella in a patient being treated with linezolid or intravenous methylene blue because there is increased risk of serotonin syndrome. In a patient who requires more urgent treatment of a psychiatric condition, other interventions, including hospitalization, should be considered.


Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

The use of MAOIs intended to treat psychiatric disorders with Savella or within 5 days of stopping treatment with Savella is contraindicated because of an increased risk of serotonin syndrome. The use of Savella within 14 days of stopping an MAOI intended to treat psychiatric disorders is also contraindicated.

Starting Savella in a patient who is being treated with MAOIs such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue is also contraindicated because of an increased risk of serotonin syndrome.


Suicide Risk: Savella is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitor (SNRI), similar to some drugs used for the treatment of depression and other psychiatric disorders.

Patients, both adult and pediatric, with depression or other psychiatric disorders may experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence of suicidal ideation and behavior (suicidality) or unusual changes in behavior, whether or not they are taking these medications, and this risk may persist until significant remission occurs. Suicide is a known risk of depression and certain other psychiatric disorders, and these disorders themselves are the strongest predictors of suicide.

Serotonin Syndrome: The development of a potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome has been reported with SNRIs and SSRIs, including Savella, alone but particularly with concomitant use of other serotonergic drugs (including triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol, tryptophan, buspirone, amphetamines, and St. John’s Wort) and with drugs that impair metabolism of serotonin (in particular MAOIs, both those intended to treat psychiatric disorders and also others, such as linezolid and intravenous methylene blue).

Hepatotoxicity: In the placebo-controlled fibromyalgia trials, increases in the number of patients treated with Savella with mild elevations of ALT or AST (1-3 times the upper limit of normal, ULN) were observed. Increases in ALT were more frequently observed in the patients treated with Savella 100 mg/day (6%) and Savella 200 mg/day (7%), compared to the patients treated with placebo (3%). One patient receiving Savella 100 mg/day (0.2%) had an increase in ALT greater than 5 times the upper limit of normal but did not exceed 10 times the upper limit of normal. Increases in AST were more frequently observed in the patients treated with Savella 100 mg/day (3%) and Savella 200 mg/day (5%) compared to the patients treated with placebo (2%).

Hyponatremia: Hyponatremia may occur as a result of treatment with SSRIs and SNRIs, including Savella. In many cases, this hyponatremia appears to be the result of the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH). Cases with serum sodium lower than 110 mmol/L have been reported. Elderly patients may be at greater risk of developing hyponatremia with SNRIs, SSRIs, or Savella. Also, patients taking diuretics or who are otherwise volume-depleted may be at greater risk. Discontinuation of Savella should be considered in patients with symptomatic hyponatremia.

Abnormal Bleeding: SSRIs and SNRIs, including Savella, may increase the risk of bleeding events. Concomitant use of aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), warfarin, and other anti-coagulants may add to this risk. Case reports and epidemiological studies (case-control and cohort design) have demonstrated an association between use of drugs that interfere with serotonin reuptake and the occurrence of gastrointestinal bleeding. Bleeding events related to SSRIs and SNRIs use have ranged from ecchymoses, hematomas, epistaxis, and petechiae to life-threatening hemorrhages.

Patients with a History of Dysuria: Because of their noradrenergic effect, SNRIs including Savella, can affect urethral resistance and micturition. In the controlled fibromyalgia trials, dysuria occurred more frequently in patients treated with Savella (1%) than in placebo-treated patients (0.5%). Caution is advised in use of Savella in patients with a history of dysuria, notably in male patients with prostatic hypertrophy, prostatitis, and other lower urinary tract obstructive disorders. Male patients are more prone to genitourinary adverse effects, such as dysuria or urinary retention, and may experience testicular pain or ejaculation disorders.

Sexual Dysfunction: Use of SNRIs, including Savella, may cause symptoms of sexual dysfunction. In male patients, SNRI use may result in ejaculatory delay or failure, decreased libido, and erectile dysfunction. In female patients, SNRI use may result in decreased libido and delayed or absent orgasm.

Angle Closure Glaucoma: The pupillary dilation that occurs following use of SNRI drugs including Savella may trigger an angle closure attack in a patient with anatomically narrow angles who does not have a patent iridectomy.

Concomitant Use with Alcohol: In clinical trials, more patients treated with Savella developed elevated transaminases than did placebo treated patients. Because it is possible that milnacipran may aggravate pre-existing liver disease, Savella should not be prescribed to patients with substantial alcohol use or evidence of chronic liver disease.


Triptans: There have been rare postmarketing reports of serotonin syndrome with use of an SSRI and a triptan. If concomitant treatment of Savella with a triptan is clinically warranted, careful observation of the patient is advised, particularly during treatment initiation and dose increases.

Catecholamines: Savella inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine. Therefore, concomitant use of Savella with epinephrine and norepinephrine may be associated with paroxysmal hypertension and possible arrhythmia

CNS-active drugs: Given the primary CNS effects of Savella, caution should be used when it is taken in combination with other centrally acting drugs, including those with a similar mechanism of action.

Clomipramine: In a drug-drug interaction study, an increase in euphoria and postural hypotension was observed in patients who switched from clomipramine to Savella.

Use in specific populations


Pregnancy Category C: There are no adequate or well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Neonates exposed to dual reuptake inhibitors of serotonin and norepinephrine (such as Savella), or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors late in the third trimester have developed complications that can arise immediately upon delivery.

Nursing Mothers

Milnacipran is present in the milk of lactating women treated with Savella. In a pharmacokinetic study, a single, oral dose of 50 mg milnacipran HCl tablet was administered to 8 lactating women who were at least 12 weeks postpartum and weaning their infants. The maximum estimated daily infant dose for milnacipran from breast milk (assuming mean milk consumption of 150 mL/kg/day) was 5% of the maternal dose based on peak plasma concentrations. In most patients, peak concentrations of milnacipran in breast milk were seen within 4 hours after the maternal dose. Because of the limited data regarding infant exposure to Savella, caution should be exercised when Savella is administered to a nursing woman.


Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness of Savella in a fibromyalgia pediatric population below the age of 18 have not been established. The use of Savella is not recommended in pediatric patients.


There is limited clinical experience with Savella overdose in humans. In clinical trials, cases of acute ingestions up to 1000 mg, alone or in combination with other drugs, were reported with none being fatal.

In postmarketing experience, fatal outcomes have been reported for acute overdoses primarily involving multiple drugs but also with Savella only. The most common signs and symptoms included increased blood pressure, cardio-respiratory arrest, changes in the level of consciousness (ranging from somnolence to coma), confusional state, dizziness, and increased hepatic enzymes.

Management of Overdose

There is no specific antidote to Savella, but if serotonin syndrome ensues, specific treatment (such as with cyproheptadine and/or temperature control) may be considered. In case of acute overdose, treatment should consist of those general measures employed in the management of overdose with any drug.

An adequate airway, oxygenation, and ventilation should be assured and cardiac rhythm and vital signs should be monitored. Induction of emesis is not recommended. Gastric lavage with a large-bore orogastric tube with appropriate airway protection, if needed, may be indicated if performed soon after ingestion or in symptomatic patients. Because there is no specific antidote for Savella, symptomatic care and treatment with gastric lavage and activated charcoal should be considered as soon as possible for patients who experience a Savella overdose.

Due to the large volume of distribution of this drug, forced diuresis, dialysis, hemoperfusion, and exchange transfusion are unlikely to be beneficial.

In managing overdose, the possibility of multiple drug involvement should be considered. The physician should consider contacting a poison control center for additional information on the treatment of any overdose. Telephone numbers for certified poison control centers are listed in the Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR).


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