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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.
Infants may have increased sensitivity to the respiratory depressant effects of opioids (see PRECAUTIONS, Pediatric Use). If use of Lortab Elixir (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen oral solution) in such patients is contemplated, it should be administered cautiously, in substantially reduced initial doses, by personnel experienced in administering opioids to infants, and with intensive monitoring.
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.
Special Risk Patients
As with any narcotic analgesic agent, Lortab Elixir (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen oral solution) should be used with caution in elderly or debilitated patients, and those with severe impairment of hepatic or renal function, hypothyroidism, Addison's disease, prostatic hypertrophy or urethral stricture. The usual precautions should be observed and the possibility of respiratory depression should be kept in mind.
Hydrocodone suppresses the cough reflex; as with all narcotics, caution should be exercised when Lortab Elixir (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen oral solution) are used postoperatively and in patients with pulmonary disease.
Information for Patients
Hydrocodone, like all narcotics, may impair mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery. Such tasks should be avoided while taking this product. Alcohol and other CNS depressants may produce an additive CNS depression, when taken with this combination product, and should be avoided.
Hydrocodone may be habit-forming. Patients should take the drug only for as long as it is prescribed, in the amounts prescribed, and no more frequently than prescribed.
Physicians should instruct patients and caregivers to read the patient information leaflet, which appears as the last section of the labeling.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
No adequate studies have been conducted in animals to determine whether hydrocodone has a potential for carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, or impairment of fertility.
No adequate studies have been conducted in animals to determine whether acetaminophen has a potential for carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, or impairment of fertility.
Pregnancy Category C
Babies born to mothers who have been taking opioids regularly prior to delivery will be physically dependent. The withdrawal signs include irritability and excessive crying, tremors, hyperactive reflexes, increased respiratory rate, increased stools, sneezing yawning, vomiting and fever. These signs usually appear during the first few days of life. The intensity of the syndrome does not always correlate with the duration of maternal opioid use or dose. There is no consensus on the best method of managing withdrawal.
Labor and Delivery
Narcotic analgesics cross the placental barrier. The closer to delivery and the larger the dose used, the greater the possibility of respiratory depression in the newborn. Narcotic analgesics should be avoided during labor if delivery of a premature infant is anticipated. If the mother has received narcotic analgesics during labor, newborn infants should be observed closely for signs of respiratory depression. Resuscitation may be required ( see OVERDOSAGE). The effect of hydrocodone, if any, on the later growth, development, and functional maturation of the child is unknown.
Acetaminophen is excreted in breast milk in small amounts, but the significance of its effects on nursing infants is not known. It is not known whether hydrocodone is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from hydrocodone and acetaminophen, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.
Safety and effectiveness in the pediatric population below the age of two years have not been established. Use of Lortab Elixir (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen oral solution) in the pediatric population is supported by the evidence from adequate and well controlled studies of hydrocodone and acetaminophen combination products in adults with additional data which support the development of metabolic pathways in children two years of age and over (See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION for pediatric dosage information)
Clinical studies of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen oral solution did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.
Hydrocodone and the major metabolites of acetaminophen are known to be substantially excreted by the kidney. Thus the risk of toxic reactions may be greater in patients with impaired renal function due to the accumulation of the parent compound and/or metabolites in the plasma. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection, and it may be useful to monitor renal function.
Hydrocodone may cause confusion and over-sedation in the elderly; elderly patients generally should be started on low doses of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen oral solution and observed closely.
Last reviewed on RxList: 1/30/2008
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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