Tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablet contains tramadol, a Schedule IV controlled substance. As an opioid, tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablet exposes users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse. Because extended-release products such as tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets deliver the opioid over an extended period of time, there is a greater risk for overdose and death due to the larger amount of tramadol present [see Drug Abuse and Dependence(9)].
Although the risk of addiction in any individual is unknown, it can occur in patients appropriately prescribed tramadol hydrochloride extended-release 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 tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets, and monitor all patients receiving tramadol hydrochloride extended-release 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 tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets, but use in such patients necessitates intensive counseling about the risks and proper use of tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets along with intensive monitoring for signs of addiction, abuse, and misuse. Consider prescribing naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose [see Dosage and Administration (2.2), Warnings and Precautions (5.3)].
Abuse or misuse of tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets by cutting, breaking, chewing, crushing, snorting, or injecting the dissolved product will result in the uncontrolled delivery of tramadol and can result in overdose and death [see Overdosage (10)].
Opioids are sought by drug abusers and people with addiction disorders and are subject to criminal diversion. Consider these risks when prescribing or dispensing tramadol hydrochloride extended-release 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 Patient Counseling Information (17)]. 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 (10)]. Carbon dioxide (CO2 ) 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 tramadol hydrochloride extended-release 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 tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets.
To reduce the risk of respiratory depression, proper dosing and titration of tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets are essential [see Dosage and Administration (2)]. Overestimating the tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets dosage when converting patients from another opioid product can result in a fatal overdose with the first dose.
Accidental ingestion of even one dose of tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets, especially by children, can result in respiratory depression and death due to an overdose of tramadol.
Educate patients and caregivers on how to recognize respiratory depression and emphasize the importance of calling 911 or getting emergency medical help right away in the event of a known or suspected overdose [see Patient Counseling Information (17)].
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 (2.5)].
Patient Access to Naloxone for the Emergency Treatment of Opioid Overdose
Discuss the availability of naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose with the patient and caregiver and assess the potential need for access to naloxone, both when initiating and renewing treatment with tramadol hydrochloride extended release tablets.. Inform patients and caregivers about the various ways to obtain naloxone as permitted by individual state naloxone dispensing and prescribing requirements or guidelines (e.g., by prescription, directly from a pharmacist, or as part of a community-based program). Educate patients and caregivers on how to recognize respiratory depression and emphasize the importance of calling 911 or getting emergency medical help, even if naloxone is administered [see Patient Counseling Information (17)].
Consider prescribing naloxone, based on the patient’s risk factors for overdose, such as concomitant use of CNS depressants, a history of opioid use disorder, or prior opioid overdose. The presence of risk factors for overdose should not prevent the proper management of pain in any given patient. Also consider prescribing naloxone if the patient has household members (including children) or other close contacts at risk for accidental ingestion or overdose. If naloxone is prescribed, educate patients and caregivers on how to treat with naloxone. [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1, 5.7, Patient Counseling Information (17)].
5.4 Ultra-Rapid Metabolism of Tramadol and Other Risk Factors for Life-threatening Respiratory Depression in Children
Life-threatening respiratory depression and death have occurred in children who received tramadol. Tramadol and codeine are subject to variability in metabolism based upon CYP2D6 genotype (described below), which can lead to increased exposure to an active metabolite. Based upon postmarketing reports with tramadol or with codeine, children younger than 12 years of age may be more susceptible to the respiratory depressant effects of tramadol. Furthermore, children with obstructive sleep apnea who are treated with opioids for post-tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy pain may be particularly sensitive to their respiratory depressant effect. Because of the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression and death:
- Tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets are contraindicated for all children younger than 12 years of age [see Contraindications (4)].
- Tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets are contraindicated for post-operative management in pediatric patients younger than 18 years of age following tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy [see Contraindications (4)].
- Avoid the use of tramadol hydrochloride extended-release 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 tramadol 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.
- As with adults, when prescribing opioids 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 opioid overdose [see Use in Specific Populations (8.4), Overdosage (10)].
Tramadol is subject to the same polymorphic metabolism as codeine, with ultra-rapid metabolizers of CYP2D6 substrates being potentially exposed to life-threatening levels of O-desmethyltramadol (M1). 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. A baby nursing from an ultra-rapid metabolizer mother taking tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets could potentially be exposed to high levels of M1, and experience life-threatening respiratory depression. For this reason, breastfeeding is not recommended during treatment with tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets [see Use in Specific Populations (8.2)].
CYP2D6 Genetic Variability: Ultra-rapid metabolizer
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 tramadol into its active metabolite, O-desmethyltramadol (M1), more rapidly and completely than other people. This rapid conversion results in higher than expected serum M1 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 (10)]. Therefore, individuals who are ultra-rapid metabolizers should not use tramadol hydrochloride extended-release tablets.
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