Hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets contain hydrocodone, a Schedule II controlled substance. As an opioid, hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen 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 hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen 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 hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets, and monitor all patients receiving hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen 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 hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets, but use in such patients necessitates intensive counseling about the risks and proper use of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen 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 hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen 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). 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 1-800-503-0784, 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 hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen 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 hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets.
To reduce the risk of respiratory depression, proper dosing and titration of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets are essential ( see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION). Overestimating the hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets dosage when converting patients from another opioid product can result in a fatal overdose.
Accidental ingestion of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets, especially by children, can result in respiratory depression and death due to an overdose of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets.
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).
Prolonged use of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets during pregnancy can result in withdrawal in the neonate. Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, unlike opioid withdrawal syndrome in adults, may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated, and requires management according to protocols developed by neonatology experts. Observe newborns for signs of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and manage accordingly. Advise pregnant women using opioids for a prolonged period of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available ( see PRECAUTIONS, Information for Patients and Pregnancy).
Concomitant use of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets with a CYP3A4 inhibitor, such as macrolide antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin), azole-antifungal agents (e.g., ketoconazole), and protease inhibitors (e.g., ritonavir), may increase plasma concentrations of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets and prolong opioid adverse reactions, and which may cause potentially fatal respiratory depression ( see WARNINGS), particularly when an inhibitor is added after a stable dose of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets is achieved . Similarly, discontinuation of a CYP3A4 inducer, such as rifampin, carbamazepine, and phenytoin, in hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets-treated patients may increase hydrocodone plasma concentrations and prolong opioid adverse reactions. When adding CYP3A4 inhibitors or discontinuing CYP3A4 inducers in hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets-treated patients, follow patients at frequent intervals and consider dosage reduction of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets until stable drug effects are achieved ( see PRECAUTIONS, Drug Interactions).
Concomitant use of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets with CYP3A4 inducers or discontinuation of an CYP3A4 inhibitor could decrease hydrocodone plasma concentrations, decrease opioid efficacy or, possibly, lead to a withdrawal syndrome in a patient who had developed physical dependence to hydrocodone. When using hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets with CYP3A4 inducers or discontinuing CYP3A4 inhibitors, follow patients at frequent intervals and consider increasing the opioid dosage if needed to maintain adequate analgesia or if symptoms of opioid withdrawal occur ( see PRECAUTIONS, Drug Interactions).
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