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Advise patients that some people have a genetic variation that results in dihydrocodeine changing into dihydromorphine more rapidly and completely than other people. Most people are unaware of whether they are an ultra-rapid dihydrocodeine metabolizer or not. These higher-than-normal levels of dihydromorphine in the blood may lead to life-threatening or fatal respiratory depression or signs of overdose such as extreme sleepiness, confusion, or shallow breathing. Children with this genetic variation who were prescribed codeine after tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy for obstructive sleep apnea may be at greatest risk based on reports of several deaths in this population due to respiratory depression. Synalgos-DC is contraindicated in all children who undergo tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy. Advise caregivers of children receiving Synalgos-DC for other reasons to monitor for signs of respiratory depression.
Advise patients that nursing mothers taking dihydrocodeine can have higher dihydromorphine levels in their breast milk if they are ultra-rapid metabolizers. These higher levels of dihydromorphine in breast milk may lead to life-threatening or fatal side effects in nursing babies. Advise nursing mothers to watch for signs of dihydromorphine toxicity in their infants which includes increased sleepiness (more than usual), difficulty breastfeeding, breathing difficulties, or limpness. Instruct nursing mothers to talk to the baby's doctor immediately if they notice these signs and, if they cannot reach the doctor right away, to take the baby to an emergency room or call 911 (or local emergency services).
Last reviewed on RxList: 6/4/2013
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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