Acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets contain codeine. Codeine in combination with acetaminophen, is a Schedule III controlled substance. As an opioid, acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse (see DRUG ABUSE AND DEPENDENCE).
Although the risk of addiction in any individual is unknown, it can occur in patients appropriately prescribed acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets. Addiction can occur at recommended dosages and if the drug is misused or abused.
Assess each patient’s risk for opioid addiction, abuse, or misuse prior to prescribing acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets, and monitor all patients receiving acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets for the development of these behaviors and conditions. Risks are increased in patients with a personal or family history of substance abuse (including drug or alcohol abuse or addiction) or mental illness (e.g., major depression). The potential for these risks should not, however, prevent the proper management of pain in any given patient. Patients at increased risk may be prescribed opioids such as acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets, but use in such patients necessitates intensive counseling about the risks and proper use of acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets along with intensive monitoring for signs of addiction, abuse, and misuse.
Opioids are sought by drug abusers and people with addiction disorders and are subject to criminal diversion. Consider these risks when prescribing or dispensing acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets. Strategies to reduce these risks include prescribing the drug in the smallest appropriate quantity and advising the patient on the proper disposal of unused drug (see PRECAUTIONS; Information for Patients/Caregivers). Contact local state professional licensing board or state controlled substances authority for information on how to prevent and detect abuse or diversion of this product.
To ensure that the benefits of opioid analgesics outweigh the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for these products. Under the requirements of the REMS, drug companies with approved opioid analgesic products must make REMS-compliant education programs available to healthcare providers. Healthcare providers are strongly encouraged to do all of the following:
- Complete a REMS-compliant education program offered by an accredited provider of continuing education (CE) or another education program that includes all the elements of the FDA Education Blueprint for Health Care Providers Involved in the Management or Support of Patients with Pain.
- Discuss the safe use, serious risks, and proper storage and disposal of opioid analgesics with patients and/or their caregivers every time these medicines are prescribed. The Patient Counseling Guide (PCG) can be obtained at this link: www.fda.gov/OpioidAnalgesicREMSPCG.
- Emphasize to patients and their caregivers the importance of reading the Medication Guide that they will receive from their pharmacist every time an opioid analgesic is dispensed to them.
- Consider using other tools to improve patient, household, and community safety, such as patient-prescriber agreements that reinforce patient-prescriber responsibilities.
To obtain further information on the opioid analgesic REMS and for a list of accredited REMS CME/CE, call 800-503-0784, or log on to www.opioidanalgesicrems.com. The FDA Blueprint can be found at www.fda.gov/OpioidAnalgesicREMSBlueprint.
Serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression has been reported with the use of opioids, even when used as recommended. Respiratory depression, if not immediately recognized and treated, may lead to respiratory arrest and death. Management of respiratory depression may include close observation, supportive measures, and use of opioid antagonists, depending on the patient’s clinical status (see OVERDOSAGE). Carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) retention from opioid-induced respiratory depression can exacerbate the sedating effects of opioids.
While serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression can occur at any time during the use of acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets, the risk is greatest during the initiation of therapy or following a dosage increase. Monitor patients closely for respiratory depression, especially within the first 24 to 72 hours of initiating therapy with and following dosage increases of acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets.
To reduce the risk of respiratory depression, proper dosing and titration of acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets are essential (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION). Overestimating the acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets dosage when converting patients from another opioid product can result in a fatal overdose with the first dose.
Accidental ingestion of acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets, especially by children, can result in respiratory depression and death due to an overdose of codeine.
Opioids can cause sleep-related breathing disorders including central sleep apnea (CSA) and sleep-related hypoxemia. Opioid use increases the risk of CSA in a dose-dependent fashion. In patients who present with CSA, consider decreasing the opioid dosage using best practices for opioid taper (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION) .
Ultra-Rapid Metabolism of Codeine and Other Risk Factors for Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression in Children
Life-threatening respiratory depression and death have occurred in children who received codeine. Codeine is subject to variability in metabolism based upon CYP2D6 genotype (described below), which can lead to an increased exposure to the active metabolite morphine. Based upon post-marketing reports, children younger than 12 years old appear to be more susceptible to the respiratory depressant effects of codeine, particularly if there are risk factors for respiratory depression. For example, many reported cases of death occurred in the post-operative period following tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy, and many of the children had evidence of being ultra-rapid metabolizers of codeine. Furthermore, children with obstructive sleep apnea who are treated with codeine for post-tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy pain may be particularly sensitive to its respiratory depressant effect. Because of the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression and death:
Acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets are contraindicated for all children younger than 12 years of age (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
Acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets are contraindicated for post-operative management in pediatric patients younger than 18 years of age following tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
Avoid the use of acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets in adolescents 12 to 18 years of age who have other risk factors that may increase their sensitivity to the respiratory depressant effects of codeine unless the benefits outweigh the risks. Risk factors include conditions associated with hypoventilation, such as postoperative status, obstructive sleep apnea, obesity, severe pulmonary disease, neuromuscular disease, and concomitant use of other medications that cause respiratory depression (see WARNINGS).
As with adults, when prescribing codeine for adolescents, healthcare providers should choose the lowest effective dose for the shortest period of time and inform patients and caregivers about these risks and the signs of morphine overdose (see OVERDOSAGE).
At least one death was reported in a nursing infant who was exposed to high levels of morphine in breast milk because the mother was an ultra-rapid metabolizer of codeine. Breastfeeding is not recommended during treatment with acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets.
CYP2D6 Genetic Variability: Ultra-Rapid Metabolizers
Some individuals may be ultra-rapid metabolizers because of a specific CYP2D6 genotype (e.g., gene duplications denoted as *1/*1xN or *1/*2xN). The prevalence of this CYP2D6 phenotype varies widely and has been estimated at 1% to 10% for Whites (European, North American), 3% to 4% for Blacks (African Americans), 1% to 2% for East Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Korean), and may be greater than 10% in certain racial/ethnic groups (i.e., Oceanian, Northern African, Middle Eastern, Ashkenazi Jews, Puerto Rican).
These individuals convert codeine into its active metabolite, morphine, more rapidly and completely than other people. This rapid conversion results in higher than expected serum morphine levels. Even at labeled dosage regimens, individuals who are ultra-rapid metabolizers may have life-threatening or fatal respiratory depression or experience signs of overdose (such as extreme sleepiness, confusion, or shallow breathing) (see OVERDOSAGE). Therefore, individuals who are ultra-rapid metabolizers should not use acetaminophen and codeine phosphate tablets.
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