Dosing errors can result in accidental overdose and death. Avoid dosing errors that may result from confusion between mg and mL and confusion acetaminophen and codeine phosphate oral solution of different concentrations, when prescribing, dispensing, and administering acetaminophen and codeine phosphate oral solution. Ensure that the dose is communicated clearly and dispensed accurately. A household teaspoon is not an adequate measuring device. Given the inexactitude of the household spoon measure and the risk of mistakenly using a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon, which could lead to overdosage, it is strongly recommended that caregivers obtain and use a calibrated measuring device. Health care providers should recommend a calibrated device that can measure and deliver the prescribed dose accurately, and instruct caregivers to use extreme caution in measuring the dosage [see WARNINGS].
Acetaminophen and codeine phosphate oral solution contains codeine, a Schedule II controlled substance. As an opioid, acetaminophen and codeine phosphate oral solution exposes 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 oral solution. 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 oral solution, and monitor all patients receiving acetaminophen and codeine phosphate oral solution 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 oral solution, but use in such patients necessitates intensive counseling about the risks and proper use of acetaminophen and codeine phosphate oral solution 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 oral solution. 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]. 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.
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 oral solution, the risk is greatest during the initiation of therapy or following a dosage increase. Monitor patients closely for respiratory depression, especially within the first 24-72 hours of initiating therapy with and following dosage increases of acetaminophen and codeine phosphate oral solution.
To reduce the risk of respiratory depression, proper dosing and titration of acetaminophen and codeine phosphate oral solution is essential [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]. Overestimating the acetaminophen and codeine phosphate oral solution 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 oral solution, especially by children, can result in respiratory depression and death due to an overdose of codeine.
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. Prescribers 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/OpioidAnalgesicsREMSPCD.
- 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.
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 postmarketing reports, children less 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 oral solution is contraindicated for all children younger than 12 years of age [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].
- Acetaminophen and codeine phosphate oral solution is 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 oral solution 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 oral solution.
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