"Nov. 2, 2012 -- Safety steps taken in the wake of the fungal meningitis outbreak have worsened drug shortages, raising questions about whether the U.S. must choose between the safety and the availability of crucial medicines.
ULTRACET® contains tramadol HCl and acetaminophen. 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 4,000 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 (see BOXED WARNING).
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 4,000 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.
Seizures have been reported in patients receiving tramadol within the recommended dosage range. Spontaneous post-marketing reports indicate that seizure risk is increased with doses of tramadol above the recommended range. Concomitant use of tramadol increases the seizure risk in patients taking:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI antidepressants or anorectics),
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and other tricyclic compounds (e.g., cyclobenzaprine, promethazine, etc.), or
- Other opioids.
Administration of tramadol may enhance the seizure risk in patients taking:
- MAO inhibitors (see also WARNINGS, Use with MAO Inhibitors and Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors),
- Neuroleptics, or
- Other drugs that reduce the seizure threshold.
Risk of convulsions may also increase in patients with epilepsy, those with a history of seizures, or in patients with a recognized risk for seizure (such as head trauma, metabolic disorders, alcohol and drug withdrawal, or CNS infections). In tramadol overdose, naloxone administration may increase the risk of seizure.
- Do not prescribe ULTRACET® for patients who are suicidal or addiction-prone.
- Prescribe ULTRACET® with caution for patients taking tranquilizers or antidepressant drugs and patients who use alcohol in excess and who suffer from emotional disturbance or depression.
The judicious prescribing of tramadol is essential to the safe use of this drug. With patients who are depressed or suicidal, consideration should be given to the use of non-narcotic analgesics.
Tramadol-related deaths have occurred in patients with previous histories of emotional disturbances or suicidal ideation or attempts as well as histories of misuse of tranquilizers, alcohol, and other CNS-active drugs (see WARNINGS, Risk of Overdosage).
Serotonin Syndrome Risk
The development of a potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome may occur with the use of tramadol products, including ULTRACET®, particularly with concomitant use of serotonergic drugs such as SSRIs, SNRIs, TCAs, MAOIs, and triptans, with drugs which impair metabolism of serotonin (including MAOIs), and with drugs which impair metabolism of tramadol (CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 inhibitors). This may occur within the recommended dose (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Pharmacokinetics).
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).
Serious and rarely fatal anaphylactic reactions have been reported in patients receiving therapy with tramadol. When these events do occur it is often following the first dose. Other reported allergic reactions include pruritus, hives, bronchospasm, angioedema, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Patients with a history of anaphylactoid reactions to codeine and other opioids may be at increased risk and therefore should not receive ULTRACET® (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
There have been post-marketing reports of hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis associated with the use of acetaminophen. Clinical signs included swelling of the face, mouth, and throat, respiratory distress, urticaria, rash, pruritus, and vomiting. There were infrequent reports of life-threatening anaphylaxis requiring emergency medical attention. Instruct patients to discontinue ULTRACET® immediately and seek medical care if they experience these symptoms. Do not prescribe ULTRACET® for patients with acetaminophen allergy.
Administer ULTRACET® cautiously in patients at risk for respiratory depression. In these patients, alternative non-opioid analgesics should be considered. When large doses of tramadol are administered with anesthetic medications or alcohol, respiratory depression may result. Respiratory depression should be treated as an overdose. If naloxone is to be administered, use cautiously because it may precipitate seizures (see WARNINGS, Seizure Risk and OVERDOSAGE).
Interaction With Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants
ULTRACET® should be used with caution and in reduced dosages when administered to patients receiving CNS depressants such as alcohol, opioids, anesthetic agents, narcotics, phenothiazines, tranquilizers, or sedative hypnotics. Tramadol increases the risk of CNS and respiratory depression in these patients.
Interactions With Alcohol and Drugs of Abuse
Tramadol may be expected to have additive effects when used in conjunction with alcohol, other opioids, or illicit drugs that cause central nervous system depression.
Increased Intracranial Pressure or Head Trauma
ULTRACET® should be used with caution in patients with increased intracranial pressure or head injury. The respiratory depressant effects of opioids include carbon dioxide retention and secondary elevation of cerebrospinal fluid pressure and may be markedly exaggerated in these patients. Additionally, pupillary changes (miosis) from tramadol may obscure the existence, extent, or course of intracranial pathology. Clinicians should also maintain a high index of suspicion for adverse drug reactions when evaluating altered mental status in these patients if they are receiving ULTRACET® (see WARNINGS, Respiratory Depression).
Use in Ambulatory Patients
Tramadol may impair the mental and or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery. The patient using this drug should be cautioned accordingly.
Use With MAO Inhibitors and Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors
Use ULTRACET® with great caution in patients taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Animal studies have shown increased deaths with combined administration of MAO inhibitors and tramadol. Concomitant use of tramadol with MAO inhibitors or SSRIs increases the risk of adverse events, including seizure and serotonin syndrome.
Use With Alcohol
Use With Other Acetaminophen-containing Products
Due to the potential for acetaminophen hepatotoxicity at doses higher than the recommended dose, ULTRACET® should not be used concomitantly with other acetaminophen-containing products.
Misuse, Abuse and Diversion
Tramadol has mu-opioid agonist activity. ULTRACET®, a tramadol-containing product, can be sought by drug abusers and people with addiction disorders and may be subject to criminal diversion. The possibility of illegal or illicit use should be considered when prescribing or dispensing ULTRACET® in situations where the physician or pharmacist is concerned about an increased risk of misuse, abuse, or diversion. Misuse or abuse poses a significant risk to the abuser that could result in overdose and death (see Drug Abuse And Dependence and OVERDOSAGE).
Concerns about abuse, addiction, and diversion should not prevent the proper management of pain. The development of addiction to opioid analgesics in properly managed patients with pain has been reported to be rare. However, data are not available to establish the true incidence of addiction in chronic pain patients.
Risk of Overdosage
Patients taking tramadol should be warned not to exceed the dose recommended by their physician. Tramadol products in excessive doses, either alone or in combination with other CNS depressants, including alcohol, are a cause of drug-related deaths. Patients should be cautioned about the concomitant use of tramadol products and alcohol because of potentially serious CNS additive effects of these agents. Because of its added depressant effects, tramadol should be prescribed with caution for those patients whose medical condition requires the concomitant administration of sedatives, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, tricyclic antidepressants, or other CNS depressant drugs. Patients should be advised of the additive depressant effects of these combinations.
Serious potential consequences of overdosage with tramadol are central nervous system depression, respiratory depression, and death. Some deaths have occurred as a consequence of the accidental ingestion of excessive quantities of tramadol alone or in combination with other drugs. In treating an overdose, primary attention should be given to maintaining adequate ventilation along with general supportive treatment (see OVERDOSAGE).
A serious potential consequence of overdosage with acetaminophen is hepatic (centrilobular) necrosis, leading to hepatic failure and death. Emergency help should be sought immediately and treatment initiated immediately if overdose is suspected, even if symptoms are not apparent.
Withdrawal symptoms may occur if ULTRACET® is discontinued abruptly (see also Drug Abuse And Dependence). Reported symptoms have included anxiety, sweating, insomnia, rigors, pain, nausea, tremors, diarrhea, upper respiratory symptoms, piloerection, and rarely hallucinations. Other symptoms that have been reported less frequently with ULTRACET® discontinuation include: panic attacks, severe anxiety, and paresthesias. Clinical experience suggests that withdrawal symptoms may be avoided by tapering ULTRACET® at the time of discontinuation.
The recommended dose of ULTRACET® should not be exceeded.
Do not co-administer ULTRACET® with other tramadol or acetaminophen-containing products (see WARNINGS, Use With Other Acetaminophen-containing Products and Risk of Overdosage).
The safety and effectiveness of ULTRACET® has not been studied in the pediatric population.
In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function; of concomitant disease; and multiple drug therapy.
Acute Abdominal Conditions
The administration of ULTRACET® may complicate the clinical assessment of patients with acute abdominal conditions.
Use in Renal Disease
ULTRACET® has not been studied in patients with impaired renal function. Experience with tramadol suggests that impaired renal function results in a decreased rate and extent of excretion of tramadol and its active metabolite, M1. In patients with creatinine clearances of less than 30 mL/min, it is recommended that the dosing interval of ULTRACET® be increased, not to exceed 2 tablets every 12 hours.
Use in Hepatic Disease
ULTRACET® has not been studied in patients with impaired hepatic function. The use of ULTRACET® in patients with hepatic impairment is not recommended (see WARNINGS, Use With Alcohol).
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
There are no animal or laboratory studies on the combination product (tramadol and acetaminophen) to evaluate carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, or impairment of fertility.
A slight but statistically significant increase in two common murine tumors, pulmonary and hepatic, was observed in a mouse carcinogenicity study, particularly in aged mice. Mice were dosed orally up to 30 mg/kg (90 mg/m² or 0.5 times the maximum daily human tramadol dosage of 185 mg/m²) for approximately two years, although the study was not done with the Maximum Tolerated Dose. This finding is not believed to suggest risk in humans. No such finding occurred in a rat carcinogenicity study (dosing orally up to 30 mg/kg, 180 mg/m², or 1 time the maximum daily human tramadol dosage).
Tramadol was not mutagenic in the following assays: Ames Salmonella microsomal activation test, CHO/HPRT mammalian cell assay, mouse lymphoma assay (in the absence of metabolic activation), dominant lethal mutation tests in mice, chromosome aberration test in Chinese hamsters, and bone marrow micronucleus tests in mice and Chinese hamsters. Weakly mutagenic results occurred in the presence of metabolic activation in the mouse lymphoma assay and micronucleus test in rats. Overall, the weight of evidence from these tests indicates that tramadol does not pose a genotoxic risk to humans.
No effects on fertility were observed for tramadol at oral dose levels up to 50 mg/kg (350 mg/m²) in male rats and 75 mg/kg (450 mg/m²) in female rats. These dosages are 1.6 and 2.4 times the maximum daily human tramadol dosage of 185 mg/m² .
Teratogenic Effects - Pregnancy Category C
No drug-related teratogenic effects were observed in the progeny of rats treated orally with tramadol and acetaminophen. The tramadol/acetaminophen combination product was shown to be embryotoxic and fetotoxic in rats at a maternally toxic dose, 50/434 mg/kg tramadol/acetaminophen (300/2604 mg/m² or 1.6 times the maximum daily human tramadol/acetaminophen dosage of 185/1591 mg/m²), but was not teratogenic at this dose level. Embryo and fetal toxicity consisted of decreased fetal weights and increased supernumerary ribs.
Tramadol alone was evaluated in peri-and post-natal studies in rats. Progeny of dams receiving oral (gavage) dose levels of 50 mg/kg (300 mg/m² or 1.6 times the maximum daily human tramadol dosage) or greater had decreased weights, and pup survival was decreased early in lactation at 80 mg/kg (480 mg/m² or 2.6 times the maximum daily human tramadol dosage).
There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. ULTRACET® should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Neonatal seizures, neonatal withdrawal syndrome, fetal death and stillbirth have been reported with tramadol hydrochloride during post-marketing.
Labor and Delivery
ULTRACET® should not be used in pregnant women prior to or during labor unless the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Safe use in pregnancy has not been established. Chronic use during pregnancy may lead to physical dependence and post-partum withdrawal symptoms in the newborn (see Drug Abuse And Dependence). Tramadol has been shown to cross the placenta. The mean ratio of serum tramadol in the umbilical veins compared to maternal veins was 0.83 for 40 women given tramadol during labor.
The effect of ULTRACET®, if any, on the later growth, development, and functional maturation of the child is unknown.
Following a single IV 100 mg dose of tramadol, the cumulative excretion in breast milk within 16 hours post-dose was 100 μg of tramadol (0.1% of the maternal dose) and 27 μg of M1.
Last reviewed on RxList: 11/4/2013
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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