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 and acetaminophen, 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 and acetaminophen.
To reduce the risk of respiratory depression, proper dosing and titration of tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen are essential [see Dosage and Administration (2)]. Overestimating the tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen 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 and acetaminophen, especially by children, can result in respiratory depression and death due to an overdose of tramadol.
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 (2.4)].
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 and acetaminophen is contraindicated for all children younger than 12 years of age [see Contraindications (4)].
- Tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen is contraindicated for postoperative management in pediatric patients younger than 18 years of age following tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy [see Contraindications (4)].
- Avoid the use of tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen 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 and acetaminophen 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 and acetaminophen [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 (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 and acetaminophen.
Prolonged use of tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen 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 Use in Specific Populations (8.1) and Patient Counseling Information (17)].
The effects of concomitant use or discontinuation of cytochrome P450 3A4 inducers, 3A4 inhibitors, or 2D6 inhibitors on levels of tramadol and M1 from tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen are complex. Use of cytochrome P450 3A4 inducers, 3A4 inhibitors, or 2D6 inhibitors with tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen requires careful consideration of the effects on the parent drug, tramadol, which is a weak serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor and μ-opioid agonist, and the active metabolite, M1, which is more potent than tramadol in μ-opioid receptor binding [see Drug Interactions (7)].
Risks of Concomitant Use or Discontinuation of Cytochrome P450 2D6 Inhibitors
The concomitant use of tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen with all cytochrome P450 2D6 inhibitors (e.g., amiodarone, quinidine) may result in an increase in tramadol plasma levels and a decrease in the levels of the active metabolite, M1. A decrease in M1 exposure in patients who have developed physical dependence to tramadol, may result in signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal and reduced efficacy. The effect of increased tramadol levels may be an increased risk for serious adverse events including seizures and serotonin syndrome.
Discontinuation of a concomitantly used cytochrome P450 2D6 inhibitor may result in a decrease in tramadol plasma levels and an increase in active metabolite M1 levels, which could increase or prolong adverse reactions related to opioid toxicity and may cause potentially fatal respiratory depression.
Follow patients receiving tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen and any CYP2D6 inhibitor for the risk of serious adverse events including seizures and serotonin syndrome, signs and symptoms that may reflect opioid toxicity, and opioid withdrawal when tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen is used in conjunction with inhibitors of CYP2D6 [see Drug Interactions (7)].
Cytochrome P450 3A4 Interaction
The concomitant use of tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen with cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibitors, such as macrolide antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin), azole-antifungal agents (e.g., ketoconazole), and protease inhibitors (e.g., ritonavir) or discontinuation of a cytochrome P450 3A4 inducer such as rifampin, carbamazepine, and phenytoin, may result in an increase in tramadol plasma concentrations, which could increase or prolong adverse reactions, increase the risk for serious adverse events including seizures and serotonin syndrome, and may cause potentially fatal respiratory depression.
The concomitant use of tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen with all cytochrome P450 3A4 inducers or discontinuation of a cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibitor may result in lower tramadol levels. This may be associated with a decrease in efficacy, and in some patients, may result in signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
Follow patients receiving tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen and any CYP3A4 inhibitor or inducer for the risk for serious adverse events including seizures and serotonin syndrome, signs and symptoms that may reflect opioid toxicity and opioid withdrawal when tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen is used in conjunction with inhibitors and inducers of CYP3A4 [see Drug Interactions (7)].
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