Addiction, Abuse, and Misuse
Hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets contain hydrocodone bitartrate, a Schedule II controlled substance. As an opioid, hydrocodone and acetaminophen tablets 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 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 or 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.
Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression
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 (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 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 with the first dose.
Accidental ingestion of even one dose of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets, especially by children, can result in respiratory depression and death due to an overdose of hydrocodone bitartrate.
In case of respiratory depression, a reversal agent such as naloxone hydrochloride may be utilized [see OVERDOSAGE].
Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome
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. If opioid use is required for a prolonged period in a pregnant woman, advise the patient of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available [see PRECAUTIONS; Information for Patients, Pregnancy].
Drug/Drug Interactions with Hydrocodone
Opioid analgesics may enhance the neuromuscular-blocking action of skeletal muscle relaxants and produce an increase in the degree of respiratory depression.
Patients receiving CNS depressants such as other opioid analgesics, general anesthetics, phenothiazines, other tranquilizers, centrally-acting anti-emetics, sedative-hypnotics or other CNS depressants (including alcohol) concomitantly with hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets may exhibit an additive CNS depression. When such combined therapy is contemplated, the dose of one or both agents should be reduced. The concurrent use of anticholinergics with opioids may produce paralytic ileus.
Agonist/antagonist analgesics (i.e., pentazocine, nalbuphine, naltrexone, and butorphanol) should be administered with caution to a patient who has received or is receiving a pure opioid agonist such as hydrocodone. These agonist/antagonist analgesics may reduce the analgesic effect of hydrocodone or may precipitate withdrawal symptoms.
Drug/Drug Interactions with Acetaminophen
Alcohol, ethyl: Hepatotoxicity has occurred in chronic alcoholics following various dose levels (moderate to excessive) of acetaminophen.
Anticholinergics: The onset of acetaminophen effect may be delayed or decreased slightly, but the ultimate pharmacological effect is not significantly affected by anticholinergics.
Oral Contraceptives: Increase in glucuronidation resulting in increased plasma clearance and a decreased half-life of acetaminophen.
Charcoal (activated): Reduces acetaminophen absorption when administered as soon as possible after overdose.
Beta Blockers (Propanolol): Propranolol appears to inhibit the enzyme systems responsible for the glucuronidation and oxidation of acetaminophen. Therefore, the pharmacologic effects of acetaminophen may be increased.
Loop diuretics: The effects of the loop diuretic may be decreased because acetaminophen may decrease renal prostaglandin excretion and decrease plasma renin activity.
Lamotrigine: Serum lamotrigine concentrations may be reduced, producing a decrease in therapeutic effects.
Probenecid: Probenecid may increase the therapeutic effectiveness of acetaminophen slightly.
Zidovudine: The pharmacologic effects of zidovudine may be decreased because of enhanced nonhepatic or renal clearance of zidovudine.
Drug/Laboratory Test Interactions
Depending on the sensitivity/specificity and the test methodology, the individual components of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets may cross-react with assays used in the preliminary detection of cocaine (primary urinary metabolite, benzoylecgonine) or marijuana (cannabinoids) in human urine. A more specific alternate chemical method must be used in order to obtain a confirmed analytical result. The preferred confirmatory method is gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Moreover, clinical considerations and professional judgment should be applied to any drug-of-abuse test result, particularly when preliminary positive results are used.
Acetaminophen may interfere with home blood glucose measurement systems; decreases of > 20% in mean glucose values may be noted. This effect appears to be drug, concentration and system dependent.
Risks of Concomitant Use or Discontinuation of Cytochrome P450 3A4 Inhibitors and Inducers
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, 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 bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets plasma concentrations and prolong opioid adverse reactions. When using hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets with CYP3A4 inhibitors or discontinuing CYP3A4 inducers in hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets treated patients, monitor patients closely at frequent intervals and consider dosage reduction of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets until stable drug effects are achieved (Note to applicant: If there is a specific dosage adjustment, include the dosage adjustment in the D&A section and include the cross-reference in this section) [see PRECAUTIONS; Drug Interactions, DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Concomitant use of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets with CYP3A4 inducers or discontinuation of an CYP3A4 inhibitor could decrease hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets plasma concentrations, decrease opioid efficacy or, possibly, lead to a withdrawal syndrome in a patient who had developed physical dependence to hydrocodone and acetaminophen tablets. When using hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets with CYP3A4 inducers or discontinuing CYP3A4 inhibitors, monitor patients closely at frequent intervals and consider increasing the opioid dosage if needed to maintain adequate analgesia or if symptoms of opioid withdrawal [see PRECAUTIONS; Drug Interactions, DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Risks from Concomitant Use with Benzodiazepines or Other CNS Depressants
Profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death may result from the concomitant use of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants (e.g., non-benzodiazepine sedatives/hypnotics, anxiolytics, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, general anesthetics, antipsychotics, other opioids, alcohol). Because of these risks, reserve concomitant prescribing of these drugs for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options are inadequate.
Observational studies have demonstrated that concomitant use of opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines increases the risk of drug-related mortality compared to use of opioid analgesics alone. Because of similar pharmacological properties, it is reasonable to expect similar risk with the concomitant use of other CNS depressant drugs with opioid analgesics [see PRECAUTIONS; Drug Interactions].
If the decision is made to prescribe a benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant concomitantly with an opioid analgesic, prescribe the lowest effective dosages and minimum durations of concomitant use. In patients already receiving an opioid analgesic, prescribe a lower initial dose of the benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant than indicated in the absence of an opioid, and titrate based on clinical response. If an opioid analgesic is initiated in a patient already taking a benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant, prescribe a lower initial dose of the opioid analgesic, and titrate based on clinical response. Follow patients closely for signs and symptoms of respiratory depression and sedation.
Advise both patients and caregivers about the risks of respiratory depression and sedation when hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets are used with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants (including alcohol and illicit drugs). Advise patients not to drive or operate heavy machinery until the effects of concomitant use of the benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant have been determined. Screen patients for risk of substance use disorders, including opioid abuse and misuse, and warn them of the risk for overdose and death associated with the use of additional CNS depressants including alcohol and illicit drugs [see PRECAUTIONS; Drug Interactions and PRECAUTIONS; Information for Patients].
Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression in Patients with Chronic Pulmonary Disease or in Elderly, Cachectic, or Debilitated Patients
The use of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets in patients with acute or severe bronchial asthma in an unmonitored setting or in the absence of resuscitative equipment is contraindicated.
Patients with Chronic Pulmonary Disease: hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets treated patients with significant chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cor-pulmonale, and those with a substantially decreased respiratory reserve, hypoxia, hypercapnia, or pre-existing respiratory depression are at increased risk of decreased respiratory drive including apnea, even at recommended dosages of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets [see WARNINGS].
Elderly, Cachetic, or Debilitated Patients: Life-threatening respiratory depression is more likely to occur in elderly, cachectic, or debilitated patients because they may have altered pharmacokinetics or altered clearance compared to younger, healthier patients [see WARNINGS].
Monitor such patients closely, particularly when initiating and titrating hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets is given concomitantly with other drugs that depress respiration [see WARNINGS]. Alternatively, consider the use of non-opioid analgesics in these patients.
Cases of adrenal insufficiency have been reported with opioid use, more often following greater than 1 month of use. Presentation of adrenal insufficiency may include non-specific symptoms and signs including nausea, vomiting, anorexia, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and low blood pressure. If adrenal insufficiency is suspected, confirm the diagnosis with diagnostic testing as soon as possible. If adrenal insufficiency is diagnosed, treat with physiologic replacement doses of corticosteroids. Wean the patient off of the opioid to allow adrenal function to recover and continue corticosteroid treatment until adrenal function recovers. Other opioids may be tried as some cases reported use of a different opioid without recurrence of adrenal insufficiency. The information available does not identify any particular opioids as being more likely to be associated with adrenal insufficiency.
Pregnancy Category C:
Animal reproductive studies have not been conducted with hydrocodone and acetaminophen. It is also not known whether hydrocodone and acetaminophen can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproductive capacity. Hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets should not be given to a pregnant woman unless in the judgment of the physician, the potential benefits outweigh the possible hazards.
Nonteratogenic Effects: Opioids can cross the placental barrier and have the potential to cause neonatal respiratory depression. Opioid use during pregnancy may result in a physically drug-dependent fetus. After birth, the neonate may suffer severe withdrawal symptoms.
Labor and Delivery
Hydrocodone and acetaminophen tablets are not recommended for use in women during and immediately prior to labor and delivery due to its potential effects on respiratory function in the newborn.
Ordinarily, nursing should not be undertaken while a patient is receiving hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets because of the possibility of sedation and/or respiratory depression in the infant. Hydrocodone is excreted in breast milk in low concentrations, and there have been rare reports of somnolence and lethargy in babies of nursing mothers taking a hydrocodone/acetaminophen product. Acetaminophen is also excreted in breast milk in low concentrations.
Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.
Special precaution should be given when determining the dosing amount and frequency of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets for geriatric patients, since clearance of hydrocodone may be slightly reduced in this patient population when compared to younger patients.
In a pharmacokinetic study of hydrocodone in patients with end-stage liver disease, hydrocodone plasma clearance decreased and the elimination half-life increased. Care should be exercised when hydrocodone is used in patients with hepatic impairment.
In a study of patients with end stage renal impairment, mean elimination half-life was prolonged in uremic patients due to increased volume of distribution and reduced clearance. Hydrocodone should be used with caution in patients with renal impairment.
Acetaminophen has been associated with cases of acute liver failure, at times resulting in liver transplant and death. Most of the cases of liver injury are associated with the use of acetaminophen at doses that exceed 4000 milligrams per day, and often involve more than one acetaminophen-containing product. The excessive intake of acetaminophen may be intentional to cause self-harm or unintentional as patients attempt to obtain more pain relief or unknowingly take other acetaminophen-containing products.
The risk of acute liver failure is higher in individuals with underlying liver disease and in individuals who ingest alcohol while taking acetaminophen.
Instruct patients to look for acetaminophen or APAP on package labels and not to use more than one product that contains acetaminophen. Instruct patients to seek medical attention immediately upon ingestion of more than 4000 milligrams of acetaminophen per day, even if they feel well.
Serious skin reactions
Rarely, acetaminophen may cause serious skin reactions such as acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP), Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which can be fatal. Patients should be informed about the signs of serious skin reactions, and use of the drug should be discontinued at the first appearance of skin rash or any other sign of hypersensitivity.
There have been post-marketing reports of hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis associated with use of acetaminophen. Clinical signs include swelling of the face, mouth, and throat, respiratory distress, urticaria, rash, pruritis, and vomiting. There were infrequent reports of life-threatening anaphylaxis requiring emergency medical attention. Instruct patients to discontinue Hydrocodone Bitartrate and Acetaminophen Tablets, USP immediately and seek medical care if they experience these symptoms. Do not prescribe Hydrocodone Bitartrate and Acetaminophen Tablets, USP for patients with acetaminophen allergy.
At high doses or in sensitive patients, hydrocodone may produce dose-related respiratory depression by acting directly on the brain stem respiratory center. Hydrocodone also affects the center that controls respiratory rhythm, and may produce irregular and periodic breathing.
Head Injury and Increased Intracranial Pressure
The respiratory depressant effects of narcotics and their capacity to elevate cerebrospinal fluid pressure may be markedly exaggerated in the presence of head injury, other intracranial lesions or a preexisting increase in intracranial pressure. Furthermore, narcotics produce adverse reactions which may obscure the clinical course of patients with head injuries.
Acute Abdominal Conditions
The administration of narcotics may obscure the diagnosis or clinical course of patients with acute abdominal conditions.
Misuse, Abuse, and Diversion of Opioids
Hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets contain hydrocodone, an opioid agonist, and is a Schedule II controlled substance. Opioid agonists have the potential for being abused and are sought by abusers and people with addiction disorders, and are subject to diversion.
Hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets can be abused in a manner similar to other opioid agonists, legal or illicit. This should be considered when prescribing or dispensing Hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets in situations where the physician or pharmacist is concerned about an increased risk of misuse, abuse or diversion (see DRUG ABUSE AND DEPENDENCE).