TOPIC: Opioid Pain Relievers or Medicines to Treat Opioid Use Disorder: MedWatch Safety Alert - FDA Recommends Health Care Professionals Discuss Naloxone with All Patients when Prescribing.
AUDIENCE: Patient, Health Professional, Pharmacy
ISSUE: FDA is requiring drug manufacturers for all opioid pain relievers and medicines to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) to add new recommendations about naloxone to the prescribing information. This will help ensure that health care professionals discuss the availability of naloxone and assess each patient's need for a naloxone prescription when opioid pain relievers or medicines to treat OUD are being prescribed or renewed. The patient Medication Guides, available at: https://bit.ly/3hzDavc, will also be updated.
BACKGROUND: Opioid pain relievers are medicines that can help manage pain when other treatments and medicines are not able to provide enough pain relief. Certain opioids are also used to treat OUD. Opioids have serious risks, including misuse and abuse, addiction, overdose, and death. Naloxone can help reverse opioid overdose to prevent death.
The misuse and abuse of illicit and prescription opioids and the risks of addiction, overdose, and death are a public health crisis in the United States. As a result, FDA is committed to encouraging health care professionals to raise awareness of the availability of naloxone when they are prescribing and dispensing opioid pain relievers or medicines to treat OUD. FDA held discussions about naloxone availability with the Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committees, available at: https://bit.ly/3hx8tXG, which recommended that all patients being prescribed opioids for use in the outpatient setting would benefit from a conversation with their health care professional about the availability of naloxone.
- Talk to your health care professionals about the benefits of naloxone and how to obtain it.
- Recognize the signs and symptoms of a possible opioid overdose. These include slowed, shallow, or difficult breathing, severe sleepiness, or not being able to respond or wake up. If you know or think someone is overdosing, give the person naloxone if you have access to it, and always call 911 or go to an emergency room right away. Naloxone is a temporary treatment, so repeat doses may be required. Even if you give naloxone, you still need to get emergency medical help right away.
- If you have naloxone, make sure to tell your caregivers, household members, and other close contacts that you have it, where it is stored, and how to properly use it in the event of an overdose. When using opioid medicines away from home, carry naloxone with you and let those you are with know you have it, where it is, and how to use it. Read the Patient Information leaflet or other educational material and Instructions for Use that comes with your naloxone because it explains important information, including how to use the medicine.
Health Care Professionals:
- Discuss the availability of naloxone with all patients when prescribing or renewing an opioid analgesic or medicine to treat OUD.
- Consider prescribing naloxone to patients prescribed medicines to treat OUD and patients prescribed opioid analgesics who are at increased risk of opioid overdose.
- Consider prescribing naloxone when a patient has household members, including children, or other close contacts at risk for accidental ingestion or opioid overdose.
- Additionally, even if the patients are not receiving a prescription for an opioid analgesic or medicine to treat OUD, consider prescribing naloxone to them if they are at increased risk of opioid overdose.
- Educate patients and caregivers on how to recognize respiratory depression and how to administer naloxone. Inform them about their options for obtaining naloxone as permitted by their individual state, available at: https://www.usa.gov/state-health, dispensing and prescribing requirements or guidelines for naloxone. Emphasize the importance of calling 911 or getting emergency medical help right away, even if naloxone is administered.
For more information visit the FDA website at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation and http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety.
Butorphanol injection may be habit forming, especially with prolonged use. Use butorphanol injection exactly as directed. Do not use more of it, use it more often, or use it in a different way than directed by your doctor. While using butorphanol injection, discuss with your health care provider your pain treatment goals, length of treatment, and other ways to manage your pain. Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family drinks or has ever drunk large amounts of alcohol, uses or has ever used street drugs, or has overused prescription medications, or if you have or have ever had depression or another mental illness. There is a greater risk that you will overuse butorphanol if you have or have ever had any of these conditions. Talk to your health care provider immediately and ask for guidance if you think that you have an opioid addiction or call the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
Butorphanol injection may cause serious or life-threatening breathing problems, especially during the first 24 to 72 hours of your treatment and any time your dose is increased. Your doctor will monitor you carefully during your treatment. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had slowed breathing or asthma. Your doctor will probably tell you not to use butorphanol injection. Also tell your doctor if you have or have ever had lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; a group of diseases that affect the lungs and airways), a head injury or any condition that increases the amount of pressure in your brain. The risk that you will develop breathing problems may be higher if you are an older adult or are weak or malnourished due to disease. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment: slowed breathing, long pauses between breaths, or shortness of breath.
Taking certain other medications with butorphanol injection may increase the risk of serious or life-threatening breathing problems. Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking or plan to take any of the following medications: medications for anxiety, mental illness or nausea; benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Diastat, Valium), estazolam, flurazepam, lorazepam (Ativan), oxazepam, temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion); muscle relaxants; other narcotic pain medications; sedatives; sleeping pills; or tranquilizers. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medication and will monitor you carefully.
Drinking alcohol, taking prescription or nonprescription medications that contain alcohol, or using street drugs during your treatment with butorphanol injection also increases the risk that you will experience these serious, life-threatening side effects. Do not drink alcohol or use street drugs during your treatment.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you use butorphanol injection regularly during your pregnancy, your baby may experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms after birth. Tell your baby's doctor right away if your baby experiences any of the following symptoms: irritability, hyperactivity, abnormal sleep, high-pitched cry, uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body, vomiting, diarrhea, or failure to gain weight.
Your doctor or pharmacist will give you the manufacturer's patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment with butorphanol injection and each time you fill your prescription. Read the information carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website (http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm085729.htm) or the manufacturer's website to obtain the Medication Guide.
Why is this medication prescribed?
Butorphanol injection is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Butorphanol injection is also used to relieve pain during labor and to prevent pain and decrease awareness before or during surgery. Butorphanol is in a class of medications called opioid agonist-antagonists. It works by changing the way the body senses pain.
How should this medicine be used?
Butorphanol injection comes as a liquid to be injected into a muscle or vein. When butorphanol injection is used to relieve pain, it is usually given once every 3 to 4 hours as needed. When butorphanol injection is used to relieve pain during surgery, it may be given 60 to 90 minutes before surgery and then as needed during the surgery. When butorphanol injection is used to relieve pain during labor, it may be given once every 4 hours but should not be given less than 4 hours before delivery is expected.
You may receive butorphanol injection in a hospital, or you may be given the medication to use at home. If you have been told to administer butorphanol injection at home, it is very important that you use the medication exactly as directed. Follow the directions that you are given carefully, and ask your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you have any questions or do not understand the directions.
If you have been told to use butorphanol injection at home, do not stop using the medication without talking to your doctor. If you suddenly stop using butorphanol injection, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nervousness, agitation, shakiness, diarrhea, chills, sweats, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, confusion, loss of coordination, or hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist). Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before using butorphanol injection,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to butorphanol, any other medications, or ingredients in butorphanol injection. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: antidepressants; antihistamines; barbiturates such as butabarbital (Butisol), pentobarbital (Nembutal), phenobarbital, or secobarbital (Seconal); cyclobenzaprine (Amrix); dextromethorphan (found in many cough medications; in Nuedexta); erythromycin (E.E.S., Eryc, Erythrocin, others); medications for seizures; lithium (Lithobid); medications for migraine headaches such as almotriptan (Axert), eletriptan (Relpax), frovatriptan (Frova), naratriptan (Amerge), rizatriptan (Maxalt), sumatriptan (Alsuma, Imitrex, in Treximet), and zolmitriptan (Zomig); mirtazapine (Remeron); 5HT3 serotonin blockers such as alosetron (Lotronex), dolasetron (Anzemet), granisetron (Kytril), ondansetron (Zofran, Zuplenz), or palonosetron (Aloxi); selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors such as citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, in Symbyax), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Brisdelle, Prozac, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft); serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors such as duloxetine (Cymbalta), desvenlafaxine (Khedezla, Pristiq), milnacipran (Savella), and venlafaxine (Effexor); or tricylic antidepressants ('mood elevators') such as amitriptyline, clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Silenor), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), and trimipramine (Surmontil); theophylline (Theochron, Uniphyl, others); and trazodone (Oleptro). Also tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking or receiving the following monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors or if you have stopped taking them within the past two weeks: isocarboxazid (Marplan), linezolid (Zyvox), methylene blue, phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), or tranylcypromine (Parnate). Many other medications may also interact with butorphanol, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor what herbal products you are taking, especially St. John's wort or tryptophan.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had problems urinating; a heart attack; high blood pressure; or heart, kidney, or liver disease.
- tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. Some women who use butorphanol injection may have increased amounts of the medication in their breast milk, which can cause serious or life-threatening side effects in their breastfed babies. You should also call your baby's doctor or get emergency help if your baby is sleepier than usual, has trouble breastfeeding or breathing, or becomes limp.
- you should know that this medication may decrease fertility in men and women. Talk to your doctor about the risks of using butorphanol.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using butorphanol injection.
- you should know that butorphanol injection may make you drowsy and dizzy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery for at least one hour after you receive a dose. After one hour has passed, do not drive until you are certain that you are not dizzy, drowsy, or less alert than usual.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Butorphanol injection is usually used as needed. If your doctor has told you to use butorphanol injection regularly, use the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not use a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Butorphanol injection may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- excessive tiredness
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- unusual dreams
- stomach pain
- feeling hot
- pain, burning, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of your body
- intense happiness
- feeling of floating
- sad mood
- blurred vision
- ringing in the ears
- ear pain
- unpleasant taste
- dry mouth
- difficulty urinating
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNINGS section, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical attention:
- agitation, hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist), fever, sweating, confusion, fast heartbeat, shivering, severe muscle stiffness or twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, or dizziness
- inability to get or keep an erection
- irregular menstruation
- decreased sexual desire
- difficulty breathing
- changes in heartbeat
Butorphanol injection may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
If you are using butorphanol injection at home, keep the medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from light, excess heat, and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
Store butorphanol injection in a safe place so that no one else can use it accidentally or on purpose. Keep track of how much medication is left so you will know if any is missing.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
While using butorphanol injection, you may be told to always have a rescue medication called naloxone available (e.g., home, office). Naloxone is used to reverse the life-threatening effects of an overdose. It works by blocking the effects of opiates to relieve dangerous symptoms caused by high levels of opiates in the blood. You will probably be unable to treat yourself if you experience an opiate overdose. You should make sure that your family members, caregivers, or the people who spend time with you know how to tell if you are experiencing an overdose, how to use naloxone, and what to do until emergency medical help arrives. Your doctor or pharmacist will show you and your family members how to use the medication. Ask your pharmacist for the instructions or visit the manufacturer's website to get the instructions. If someone sees that you are experiencing symptoms of an overdose, he or she should give you your first dose of naloxone, call 911 immediately, and stay with you and watch you closely until emergency medical help arrives. Your symptoms may return within a few minutes after you receive naloxone. If your symptoms return, the person should give you another dose of naloxone. Additional doses may be given every 2 to 3 minutes, if symptoms return before medical help arrives.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
- slow or shallow breathing
- coma (loss of consciousness for a period of time)
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your body's response to butorphanol.
Before having any laboratory test (especially those that involve methylene blue), tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are receiving butorphanol.
Do not let anyone use your medication. If you continue to have pain after you finish the butorphanol injection, call your doctor.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
¶ This branded product is no longer on the market. Generic alternatives may be available.