May 30, 2017
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Nucynta ER

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Nucynta ER



Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


Addiction, Abuse, And Misuse

NUCYNTA® ER contains tapentadol, a Schedule II controlled substance. As an opioid, NUCYNTA® ER exposes users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse [see Drug Abuse and Dependence]. As modified-release products such as NUCYNTA® ER deliver the opioid over an extended period of time, there is a greater risk for overdose and death due to the larger amount of tapentadol present.

Although the risk of addiction in any individual is unknown, it can occur in patients appropriately prescribed NUCYNTA® ER and in those who obtain the drug illicitly. Addiction can occur at recommended doses and if the drug is misused or abused.

Assess each patient's risk for opioid addiction, abuse, or misuse prior to prescribing NUCYNTA® ER, and monitor all patients receiving NUCYNTAR® ER 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 addiction or abuse) or mental illness (e.g., major depression). The potential for these risks should not, however, prevent the prescribing of NUCYNTA® ER for the proper management of pain in any given patient. Patients at increased risk may be prescribed modified-release opioid formulations such as NUCYNTA® ER, but use in such patients necessitates intensive counseling about the risks and proper use of NUCYNTA® ER along with intensive monitoring for signs of addiction, abuse, and misuse.

Abuse or misuse of NUCYNTA® ER by crushing, chewing, snorting, or injecting the dissolved product will result in the uncontrolled delivery of tapentadol and can result in overdose and death [see OVERDOSAGE].

Opioid agonists such as NUCYNTA® ER are sought by drug abusers and people with addiction disorders and are subject to criminal diversion. Consider these risks when prescribing or dispensing NUCYNTA® ER. 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 INFORMATION]. 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 modified-release opioids, even when used as recommended. Respiratory depression from opioid use, 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 NUCYNTA® ER, the risk is greatest during the initiation of therapy or following a dose increase. Closely monitor patients for respiratory depression when initiating therapy with NUCYNTA® ER and following dose increases.

To reduce the risk of respiratory depression, proper dosing and titration of NUCYNTA® ER are essential [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]. Overestimating the NUCYNTA® ER dose when converting patients from another opioid product can result in fatal overdose with the first dose.

Accidental ingestion of even one dose of NUCYNTA® ER, especially by children, can result in respiratory depression and death due to an overdose of tapentadol.

Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome

Prolonged use of NUCYNTA® ER during pregnancy can result in withdrawal signs 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.

Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome presents as irritability, hyperactivity and abnormal sleep pattern, high pitched cry, tremor, vomiting, diarrhea and failure to gain weight. The onset, duration, and severity of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome vary based on the specific opioid used, duration of use, timing and amount of last maternal use, and rate of elimination of the drug by the newborn.

Interactions With Central Nervous System Depressants

Patients must not consume alcoholic beverages or prescription or non-prescription products containing alcohol while on NUCYNTAR® ER therapy. The co-ingestion of alcohol with NUCYNTA® ER may result in increased plasma tapentadol levels and a potentially fatal overdose of tapentadol [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Hypotension, profound sedation, coma, respiratory depression, and death may result if NUCYNTA® ER is used concomitantly with alcohol or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants (e.g., sedatives, anxiolytics, hypnotics, neuroleptics, other opioids).

When considering the use of NUCYNTA® ER in a patient taking a CNS depressant, assess the duration of use of the CNS depressant and the patient's response, including the degree of tolerance that has developed to CNS depression. Additionally, evaluate the patient's use of alcohol or illicit drugs that cause CNS depression. If the decision to begin NUCYNTA® ER is made, start with NUCYNTA® ER 50 mg every 12 hours, monitor patients for signs of sedation and respiratory depression, and consider using a lower dose of the concomitant CNS depressant [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Use In Elderly, Cachectic, And Debilitated Patients

Life-threatening respiratory depression is more likely to occur in elderly, cachectic, or debilitated patients as they may have altered pharmacokinetics or altered clearance compared to younger, healthier patients. Therefore, closely monitor such patients, particularly when initiating and titrating NUCYNTA® ER and when NUCYNTA® ER is given concomitantly with other drugs that depress respiration [see Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression].

Use In Patients With Chronic Pulmonary Disease

Monitor for respiratory depression those patients with significant chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cor pulmonale, and patients having a substantially decreased respiratory reserve, hypoxia, hypercarbia, or pre-existing respiratory depression, particularly when initiating therapy and titrating with NUCYNTA® ER, as in these patients, even usual therapeutic doses of NUCYNTA® ER may decrease respiratory drive to the point of apnea [see Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression]. Consider the use of alternative non-opioid analgesics in these patients if possible.

Hypotensive Effect

NUCYNTA® ER may cause severe hypotension. There is an increased risk in patients whose ability to maintain blood pressure has already been compromised by a reduced blood volume or concurrent administration of certain CNS depressant drugs (e.g., phenothiazines or general anesthetics) [see DRUG INTERACTIONS]. Monitor these patients for signs of hypotension after initiating or titrating the dose of NUCYNTA® ER. In patients with circulatory shock, NUCYNTA® ER may cause vasodilation that can further reduce cardiac output and blood pressure. Avoid the use of NUCYNTA® ER in patients with circulatory shock.

Use In Patients With Head Injury Or Increased Intracranial Pressure

Monitor patients taking NUCYNTA® ER who may be susceptible to the intracranial effects of CO2 retention (e.g., those with evidence of increased intracranial pressure or brain tumors) for signs of sedation and respiratory depression, particularly when initiating therapy with NUCYNTA® ER. NUCYNTA® ER may reduce respiratory drive, and the resultant CO2 retention can further increase intracranial pressure. Opioids may also obscure the clinical course in a patient with a head injury.

Avoid the use of NUCYNTA® ER in patients with impaired consciousness or coma.


NUCYNTA® ER has not been evaluated in patients with a predisposition to a seizure disorder, and such patients were excluded from clinical studies. The active ingredient tapentadol in NUCYNTA® ER may aggravate convulsions in patients with convulsive disorders, and may induce or aggravate seizures in some clinical settings. Monitor patients with a history of seizure disorders for worsened seizure control during NUCYNTA® ER therapy.

Serotonin Syndrome

Cases of life-threatening serotonin syndrome have been reported with the concurrent use of tapentadol and serotonergic drugs. Serotonergic drugs comprise Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), triptans, drugs that affect the serotonergic neurotransmitter system (e.g. mirtazapine, trazodone, and tramadol), and drugs that impair metabolism of serotonin (including MAOIs). This may occur within the recommended dose. Serotonin syndrome may include mental-status changes (e.g., agitation, hallucinations, coma), autonomic instability (e.g., tachycardia, labile blood pressure, hyperthermia), neuromuscular aberrations (e.g., hyperreflexia, incoordination) and/or gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) and can be fatal [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Use In Patients With Gastrointestinal Conditions

NUCYNTA® ER is contraindicated in patients with GI obstruction, including paralytic ileus. The tapentadol in NUCYNTA® ER may cause spasm of the sphincter of Oddi. Monitor patients with biliary tract disease, including acute pancreatitis, for worsening symptoms.

Avoidance Of Withdrawal

Avoid the use of mixed agonist/antagonist (i.e., pentazocine, nalbuphine, and butorphanol) or partial agonist (buprenorphine) analgesics in patients who have received or are receiving a course of therapy with a full opioid agonist analgesic, including NUCYNTA® ER. In these patients, mixed agonists/antagonists and partial agonist analgesics may reduce the analgesic effect and/or may precipitate withdrawal symptoms. When discontinuing NUCYNTA® ER, gradually taper the dose [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

Driving And Operating Heavy Machinery

NUCYNTA® ER may impair the mental or physical abilities needed to perform potentially hazardous activities such as driving a car or operating machinery. Warn patients not to drive or operate dangerous machinery unless they are tolerant to the effects of NUCYNTA® ER and know how they will react to the medication.

Hepatic Impairment

A study with an immediate-release formulation of tapentadol in subjects with hepatic impairment showed higher serum concentrations of tapentadol than in those with normal hepatic function. Avoid use of NUCYNTA® ER in patients with severe hepatic impairment. Reduce the dose of NUCYNTA® ER in patients with moderate hepatic impairment [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. Closely monitor patients with moderate hepatic impairment for respiratory and central nervous system depression when initiating and titrating NUCYNTA® ER.

Renal Impairment

Use of NUCYNTA® ER in patients with severe renal impairment is not recommended due to accumulation of a metabolite formed by glucuronidation of tapentadol.

The clinical relevance of the elevated metabolite is not known [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Patient Counseling Information

Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide).

Addiction, Abuse, and Misuse

Inform patients that the use of NUCYNTA® ER, even when taken as recommended, can result in addiction, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdose or death [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Instruct patients not to share NUCYNTA® ER with others and to take steps to protect NUCYNTA® ER from theft or misuse.

Life-threatening Respiratory Depression

Inform patients of the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression, including information that the risk is greatest when starting NUCYNTA® ER or when the dose is increased, and that it can occur even at recommended doses [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Advise patients how to recognize respiratory depression and to seek medical attention if breathing difficulties develop.

Accidental Ingestion

Inform patients that accidental ingestion, especially by children, may result in respiratory depression or death [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Instruct patients to take steps to store NUCYNTA® ER securely and to dispose of unused NUCYNTA® ER by flushing the tablets down the toilet.

Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome

Inform female patients of reproductive potential that prolonged use of NUCYNTA® ER during pregnancy can result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Interactions with Alcohol and other CNS Depressants

Instruct patients not to consume alcoholic beverages, as well as prescription and over-the counter products that contain alcohol, during treatment with NUCYNTA® ER. The co-ingestion of alcohol with NUCYNTA® ER may result in increased plasma tapentadol levels and a potentially fatal overdose of tapentadol [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Inform patients that potentially serious additive effects may occur if NUCYNTA® ER is used with alcohol or other CNS depressants, and not to use such drugs unless supervised by a health care provider.

Concurrent use of MAOI

Inform patients not to take NUCYNTA® ER while using any drugs that inhibit monoamine oxidase. Patients should not start MAOIs while taking NUCYNTA® ER.


Inform patients that NUCYNTA® ER could cause seizures if they are at risk for seizures or have epilepsy. Patients should be advised to stop taking NUCYNTA® ER if they have a seizure while taking NUCYNTA® ER and call their healthcare provider right away.

Serotonin Syndrome

Inform patients that NUCYNTA® ER could cause a rare but potentially lifethreatening condition resulting from concomitant administration of serotonergic drugs (including Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants). Warn patients of the symptoms of serotonin syndrome and to seek medical attention right away if symptoms develop.

Instruct patients to inform their physicians if they are taking, or plan to take additional medications including CNS Depressants, MAO inhibitors, mixed agonists/antagonist opioid analgesics, anticholinergics, SSRIs, SNRIs, or tricyclic antidepressants.

Important Administration Instructions

Instruct patients how to properly take NUCYNTA® ER, including the following:

  • Swallowing NUCYNTA® ER tablets whole
  • Not cutting, crushing, chewing, or dissolving the tablets
  • Using NUCYNTA® ER exactly as prescribed to reduce the risk of life-threatening adverse reactions (e.g., respiratory depression)
  • Not discontinuing NUCYNTA® ER without first discussing the need for a tapering regimen with the prescriber
  • To take each tablet with enough water to ensure complete swallowing immediately after placing in mouth.

Inform patients that NUCYNTA® ER may cause orthostatic hypotension and syncope. Instruct patients how to recognize symptoms of low blood pressure and how to reduce the risk of serious consequences should hypotension occur (e.g., sit or lie down, carefully rise from a sitting or lying position).

Driving or Operating Heavy Machinery

Inform patients that NUCYNTA® ER may impair the ability to perform potentially hazardous activities such as driving a car or operating heavy machinery. Advise patients not to perform such tasks until they know how they will react to the medication.


Advise patients of the potential for severe constipation, including management instructions and when to seek medical attention.


Inform patients that anaphylaxis has been reported with ingredients contained in NUCYNTA® ER. Advise patients how to recognize such a reaction and when to seek medical attention.


Advise female patients that NUCYNTA® ER can cause fetal harm and to inform the prescriber if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Disposal of Unused NUCYNTA® ER

Advise patients to flush the unused tablets down the toilet when NUCYNTA® ER is no longer needed.

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility


Tapentadol was administered to rats (diet) and mice (oral gavage) for two years.

In mice, tapentadol HCl was administered by oral gavage at dosages of 50, 100 and 200 mg/kg/day for 2 years (up to 0.34 times in the male mice and 0.25 times in the female mice the plasma exposure at the maximum recommended human dose [MRHD] for NUCYNTA® ER on an area under the time-curve [AUC] basis). No increase in tumor incidence was observed at any dose level.

In rats, tapentadol HCl was administered in diet at dosages of 10, 50, 125 and 250 mg/kg/day for two years (up to 0.20 times in the male rats and 0.75 times in the female rats the plasma exposure at the MRHD on an AUC basis). No increase in tumor incidence was observed at any dose level.


Tapentadol did not induce gene mutations in bacteria, but was clastogenic with metabolic activation in a chromosomal aberration test in V79 cells. The test was repeated and was negative in the presence and absence of metabolic activation. The one positive result for tapentadol was not confirmed in vivo in rats, using the two endpoints of chromosomal aberration and unscheduled DNA synthesis, when tested up to the maximum tolerated dose.

Impairment of Fertility

Tapentadol HCl was administered intravenously to male or female rats at dosages of 3, 6, or 12 mg/kg/day (representing exposures of up to approximately 0.56 times in the male rats and 0.50 times in the female rats the exposure at the MRHD on an AUC basis, based on extrapolation from toxicokinetic analyses in a separate 4-week intravenous study in rats). Tapentadol did not alter fertility at any dose level. Maternal toxicity and adverse effects on embryonic development, including decreased number of implantations, decreased numbers of live conceptuses, and increased pre- and post-implantation losses occurred at dosages ≥ 6 mg/kg/day.

Use In Specific Populations


Clinical Considerations

Fetal/neonatal Adverse Reactions

Prolonged use of opioid analgesics during pregnancy for medical or nonmedical purposes can result in physical dependence in the neonate and neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome shortly after birth. Observe newborns for symptoms of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, such as poor feeding, diarrhea, irritability, tremor, rigidity, and seizures, and manage accordingly [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Teratogenic Effects

Pregnancy Category C

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. NUCYNTA® ER should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Tapentadol HCl was evaluated for teratogenic effects in pregnant rats and rabbits following intravenous and subcutaneous exposure during the period of embryofetal organogenesis. When tapentadol was administered twice daily by the subcutaneous route in rats at dose levels of 10, 20, or 40 mg/kg/day [producing up to 1.36 times the plasma exposure at the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 500 mg/day for NUCYNTA® ER based on an area under the time-curve (AUC) comparison], no teratogenic effects were observed. Evidence of embryofetal toxicity included transient delays in skeletal maturation (i.e., reduced ossification) at the 40 mg/kg/day dose which was associated with significant maternal toxicity. Administration of tapentadol HCl in rabbits at doses of 4, 10, or 24 mg/kg/day by subcutaneous injection [producing 0.3, 0.8, and 2.5 times the plasma exposure at the MRHD based on an AUC comparison, respectively] revealed embryofetal toxicity at doses ≥ 10 mg/kg/day. Findings included reduced fetal viability, skeletal delays and other variations. In addition, there were multiple malformations including gastroschisis/thoracogastroschisis, amelia/phocomelia, and cleft palate at doses ≥ 10 mg/kg/day and above, and ablepharia, encephalopathy, and spina bifida at the high dose of 24 mg/kg/day. Embryofetal toxicity, including malformations, may be secondary to the significant maternal toxicity observed in the study.

In a study of pre- and postnatal development in rats, oral administration of tapentadol at doses of 20, 50, 150, or 300 mg/kg/day to pregnant and lactating rats during the late gestation and early postnatal period [resulting in up to 2.28 times the plasma exposure at the MRHD on an AUC basis] did not influence physical or reflex development, the outcome of neurobehavioral tests or reproductive parameters. At maternal tapentadol doses ≥ 150 mg/kg/day, a dose-related increase in pup mortality was observed to postnatal Day 4. Treatment-related developmental delay was observed in the dead pups, including incomplete ossification. In addition, significant reductions in pup body weights and body weight gains at doses associated with maternal toxicity (150 mg/kg/day and above) were seen throughout lactation.

Labor And Delivery

Opioids cross the placenta and may produce respiratory depression in neonates. NUCYNTA® ER is not for use in women during and immediately prior to labor, when shorter acting analgesics or other analgesic techniques are more appropriate. Opioid analgesics can prolong labor through actions that temporarily reduce the strength, duration, and frequency of uterine contractions. However this effect is not consistent and may be offset by an increased rate of cervical dilatation, which tends to shorten labor.

Nursing Mothers

There is insufficient/limited information on the excretion of tapentadol in human or animal breast milk. Physicochemical and available pharmacodynamic/ toxicological data on tapentadol point to excretion in breast milk and risk to the breastfeeding child cannot be excluded. Because of the potential for adverse reactions in nursing infants from NUCYNTA® ER, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

Withdrawal symptoms can occur in breast-feeding infants when maternal administration of NUCYNTA® ER is stopped.

Pediatric Use

The safety and efficacy of NUCYNTA® ER in pediatric patients less than 18 years of age have not been established.

Geriatric Use

Of the total number of patients in Phase 2/3 double-blind, multiple-dose clinical studies of NUCYNTA® ER, 28% (1023/3613) were 65 years and over, while 7% (245/3613) were 75 years and over. No overall differences in effectiveness or tolerability were observed between these patients and younger patients.

In general, recommended dosing for elderly patients with normal renal and hepatic function is the same as for younger adult patients with normal renal and hepatic function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal and hepatic function, consideration should be given to starting elderly patients with the lower range of recommended doses [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Renal Impairment

The safety and effectiveness of NUCYNTA® ER have not been established in patients with severe renal impairment (CLCR < 30 mL/min). Use of NUCYNTA® ER in patients with severe renal impairment is not recommended due to accumulation of a metabolite formed by glucuronidation of tapentadol. The clinical relevance of the elevated metabolite is not known [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Hepatic Impairment

Administration of tapentadol resulted in higher exposures and serum levels of tapentadol in subjects with impaired hepatic function compared to subjects with normal hepatic function [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. The dose of NUCYNTA® ER should be reduced in patients with moderate hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh Score 7 to 9) [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

Use of NUCYNTA® ER is not recommended in severe hepatic impairment (Child- Pugh Score 10 to 15) [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 1/3/2017


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