Methadone Hydrocloride (Page 5 of 10)

5.13 Risks of Use in Patients with Gastrointestinal Conditions

Methadone Hydrochloride is contraindicated in patients with known or suspected gastrointestinal obstruction, including paralytic ileus. The methadone in Methadone Hydrochloride may cause spasm of the sphincter of Oddi. Opioids may cause increases in the serum amylase. Monitor patients with biliary tract disease, including acute pancreatitis, for worsening symptoms.

5.14 Increased Risks of Seizure in Patients with Seizure Disorders

Methadone may increase frequency of seizures in patients with seizure disorders and increase the risks of seizures occurring in other clinical settings associated with seizures. Monitor patients with a history of seizure disorders for worsened seizure control during Methadone Hydrochloride therapy.

5.15 Withdrawal

Avoid the use of mixed agonist/antagonist (i.e., pentazocine, nalbuphine, and butorphanol) or partial agonist (e.g., buprenorphine) analgesics in patients who are receiving a full opioid agonist, including Methadone Hydrochloride. In these patients, mixed agonists/antagonist and partial agonist analgesics may precipitate withdrawal symptoms [see Drug Interactions (7)].

When discontinuing Methadone Hydrochloride, gradually taper the dosage [see Dosage and Administration (2.6, 2.7)]. Do not abruptly discontinue Methadone Hydrochloride [see Drug Abuse and Dependence (9.3)].

5.16 Risks of Driving or Operating Machinery

Methadone Hydrochloride may impair the mental or physical abilities needed to perform potentially hazardous activities such as driving a car or operating machinery. Warn patients not to drive or operate dangerous machinery unless they are tolerant to the effects of Methadone Hydrochloride and know how they will react to the medication [see Patient Counseling Information (17)].

5.17 Laboratory Test Interactions

False positive urine drug screens for methadone have been reported for several drugs including diphenhydramine, doxylamine, clomipramine, chlorpromazine, thioridazine, quetiapine, and verapamil.


The following serious adverse reactions and/or conditions are described, or described in greater detail, in other sections:

  • Respiratory Depression [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)]
  • Interactions with Benzodiazepines and other CNS Depressants [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)]
  • QT Prolongation [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)]
  • Serotonin Syndrome [see Warnings and Precautions (5.9)]
  • Adrenal Insufficiency [see Warnings and Precautions (5.10)]
  • Severe Hypotension [see Warnings and Precautions (5.11)]
  • Gastrointestinal Adverse Reactions [see Warnings and Precautions (5.13)]
  • Seizures [see Warnings and Precautions (5.14)]
  • Withdrawal [see Warnings and Precautions (5.15)]

The following adverse reactions have been identified during post-approval use of methadone. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

The major hazards of methadone are respiratory depression and, to a lesser degree, systemic hypotension. Respiratory arrest, shock, cardiac arrest, and death have occurred.

The most frequently observed adverse reactions include lightheadedness, dizziness, sedation, nausea, vomiting, and sweating. These effects seem to be more prominent in ambulatory patients and in those who are not suffering severe pain.

Other adverse reactions include the following:

Body as a Whole: asthenia (weakness), edema, headache

Cardiovascular: arrhythmias, bigeminal rhythms, bradycardia, cardiomyopathy, ECG abnormalities, extrasystoles, flushing, heart failure, hypotension, palpitations, phlebitis, QT interval prolongation, syncope, T-wave inversion, tachycardia, torsade de pointes , ventricular fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia

Central Nervous System: agitation, confusion, disorientation, dysphoria, euphoria, insomnia, hallucinations, seizures, visual disturbances, congenital oculomotor disorders (nystagmus, strabismus)

Endocrine: hypogonadism

Gastrointestinal: abdominal pain, anorexia, biliary tract spasm, constipation, dry mouth, glossitis

Hematologic: Reversible thrombocytopenia has been described in opioid addicts with chronic hepatitis.

Metabolic: hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, weight gain

Musculoskeletal: decreased muscle mass and strength, osteoporosis and fractures

Renal: antidiuretic effect, urinary retention or hesitancy

Reproductive: amenorrhea, reduced libido and/or potency, reduced ejaculate volume, reduced seminal vesicle and prostate secretions, decreased sperm motility, abnormalities in sperm morphology

Respiratory: pulmonary edema, respiratory depression

Skin and Subcutaneous Tissue: pruritus, urticaria, other skin rashes, and rarely, hemorrhagic urticaria

Hypersensitivity: Anaphylaxis has been reported with ingredients contained in Methadone Hydrochloride.

Serotonin syndrome: Cases of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition, have been reported during concomitant use of opioids with serotonergic drugs.

Adrenal insufficiency: Cases of adrenal insufficiency have been reported with opioid use, more often following greater than one month of use.

Androgen deficiency: Cases of androgen deficiency have occurred with chronic use of opioids [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.2)].


Benzodiazepines and Other Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants
Clinical Impact: Due to additive pharmacologic effect, the concomitant use of benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants, including alcohol, increases the risk of respiratory depression, profound sedation, coma, and death.

Cessation of benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants is preferred in most cases of concomitant use. In some cases, monitoring in a higher level of care for taper may be appropriate. In others, gradually tapering a patient off of a prescribed benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant or decreasing to the lowest effective dose may be appropriate.

Before co-prescribing benzodiazepines for anxiety or insomnia, ensure that patients are appropriately diagnosed and consider alternative medications and non-pharmacologic treatments[see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)].

If concomitant use is warranted, strongly consider prescribing naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose, as is recommended for all patients in treatment for opioid use disorder[see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].

Examples: Alcohol, benzodiazepines, and other sedatives/hypnotics, anxiolytics, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, general anesthetics, antipsychotics, other opioids.
Inhibitors of CYP3A4, CYP2B6, CYP2C19, CYP2C9, or CYP2D6
Clinical Impact:

Methadone undergoes hepatic N-demethylation by several cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoforms, including CYP3A4, CYP2B6, CYP2C19, CYP2C9, and CYP2D6. The concomitant use of methadone and CYP3A4, CYP2B6, CYP2C19, CYP2C9, or CYP2D6 inhibitors can increase the plasma concentration of methadone, resulting in increased or prolonged opioid effects, and may result in a fatal overdose, particularly when an inhibitor is added after a stable dose of methadone is achieved. These effects may be more pronounced with concomitant use of drugs that inhibit more than one of the CYP enzymes listed above.

[see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)] , resulting in decreased opioid efficacy or withdrawal symptoms in patients physically dependent on methadone.

If concomitant use is necessary, consider dosage reduction of methadone until stable drug effects are achieved. Monitor patients for respiratory depression and sedation at frequent intervals.

If a CYP3A4, CYP2B6, CYP2C19, CYP2C9, or CYP2D6 inhibitor is discontinued, follow patients for signs of opioid withdrawal and consider increasing the methadone dosage until stable drug effects are achieved.

Examples: Macrolide antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin), azole-antifungal agents (e.g., ketoconazole), protease inhibitors (e.g., ritonavir), fluconazole, fluvoxamine, some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (e.g., sertraline, fluvoxamine)
Inducers of CYP3A4, CYP2B6, CYP2C19, or CYP2C9
Clinical Impact:

The concomitant use of methadone and CYP3A4, CYP2B6, CYP2C19, or CYP2C9 inducers can decrease the plasma concentration of methadone[see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)] , resulting in decreased efficacy or onset of withdrawal symptoms in patients physically dependent on methadone. These effects could be more pronounced with concomitant use of drugs that can induce multiple CYP enzymes.

After stopping a CYP3A4, CYP2B6, CYP2C19, or CYP2C9 inducer, as the effects of the inducer decline, the methadone plasma concentration can increase[see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)] , which could increase or prolong both the therapeutic effects and adverse reactions, and may cause serious respiratory depression, sedation, or death.

Intervention: If concomitant use is necessary, consider increasing the methadone dosage until stable drug effects are achieved. Monitor for signs of opioid withdrawal. If a CYP3A4, CYP2B6, CYP2C19, or CYP2C9 inducer is discontinued, consider methadone dosage reduction and monitor for signs of respiratory depression and sedation.
Examples: Rifampin, carbamazepine, phenytoin, St. John’s Wort, Phenobarbital
Potentially Arrhythmogenic Agents
Clinical Impact: Pharmacodynamic interactions may occur with concomitant use of methadone and potentially arrhythmogenic agents or drugs capable of inducing electrolyte disturbances (hypomagnesemia, hypokalemia).
Intervention: Monitor patients closely for cardiac conduction changes.
Examples: Drugs known to have potential to prolong QT interval: Class I and III antiarrhythmics, some neuroleptics and tricyclic antidepressants, and calcium channel blockers. Drugs capable of inducing electrolyte disturbances: Diuretics, laxatives, and, in rare cases, mineralocorticoid hormones.
Serotonergic Drugs
Clinical Impact: The concomitant use of opioids with other drugs that affect the serotonergic neurotransmitter system has resulted in serotonin syndrome[see Warnings and Precautions (5.9)].
Intervention: If concomitant use is warranted, carefully observe the patient, particularly during treatment initiation and dose adjustment. Discontinue Methadone Hydrochloride if serotonin syndrome is suspected.
Examples: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), triptans, 5-HT3 receptor antagonists, drugs that affect the serotonin neurotransmitter system (e.g., mirtazapine, trazodone, tramadol), certain muscle relaxants (i.e., cyclobenzaprine, metaxalone), monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors (those intended to treat psychiatric disorders and also others, such as linezolid and intravenous methylene blue).
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
Clinical Impact: MAOI interactions with opioids may manifest as serotonin syndrome or opioid toxicity (e.g., respiratory depression, coma)[see Warnings and Precautions (5.1,5.9)].
Intervention: The use of Methadone Hydrochloride is not recommended for patients taking MAOIs or within 14 days of stopping such treatment.
Examples: phenelzine, tranylcypromine, linezolid
Mixed Agonist/Antagonist and Partial Agonist Opioid Analgesics
Clinical Impact: Patients maintained on methadone may experience withdrawal symptoms when given opioid antagonists, mixed agonist/antagonists, and partial agonists.
Intervention: Avoid concomitant use.
Examples: butorphanol, nalbuphine, pentazocine, buprenorphine
Muscle Relaxants
Clinical Impact: Methadone may enhance the neuromuscular blocking action of skeletal muscle relaxants and produce an increased degree of respiratory depression.
Intervention: Monitor patients for signs of respiratory depression that may be greater than otherwise expected and decrease the dosage of Methadone Hydrochloride and/or the muscle relaxant as necessary. Due to the risk of respiratory depression with concomitant use of skeletal muscle relaxants and opioids, strongly consider prescribing naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose [see Dosage and Administration (2.3), Warnings and Precautions (5.1,5.2)].
Clinical Impact: Opioids can reduce the efficacy of diuretics by inducing the release of antidiuretic hormone.
Intervention: Monitor patients for signs of diminished diuresis and/or effects on blood pressure and increase the dosage of the diuretic as needed.
Anticholinergic Drugs
Clinical Impact: The concomitant use of anticholinergic drugs may increase risk of urinary retention and/or severe constipation, which may lead to paralytic ileus.
Intervention: Monitor patients for signs of urinary retention or reduced gastric motility when Methadone Hydrochloride is used concomitantly with anticholinergic drugs.

Paradoxical Effects of Anti-Retroviral Agents on Methadone

Concurrent use of certain protease inhibitors with CYP3A4 inhibitory activity, alone and in combination, such as abacavir, amprenavir, darunavir+ritonavir, efavirenz, nelfinavir, nevirapine, ritonavir, telaprevir, lopinavir+ritonavir, saquinavir+ritonavir, and tipranvir+ritonavir, has resulted in increased clearance or decreased plasma levels of methadone. This may result in reduced efficacy of Methadone Hydrochloride and could precipitate a withdrawal syndrome. Monitor patients receiving Methadone Hydrochloride and any of these anti-retroviral therapies closely for evidence of withdrawal effects and adjust the Methadone Hydrochloride dose accordingly.

Effects of Methadone on Anti-Retroviral Agents

Didanosine and Stavudine
Experimental evidence demonstrated that methadone decreased the area under the concentration- time curve (AUC) and peak levels for didanosine and stavudine, with a more significant decrease for didanosine. Methadone disposition was not substantially altered.

Experimental evidence demonstrated that methadone increased the AUC of zidovudine which could result in toxic effects.

Effects of Methadone on Antidepressants

Plasma levels of desipramine have increased with concurrent methadone administration.

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