Generic name: METHADONE HYDROCHLORIDE 40mg
Dosage form: tablet
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Consider the following important factors that differentiate methadone from other opioids:
- The peak respiratory depressant effect of methadone occurs later and persists longer than its peak pharmacologic effect.
- A high degree of opioid tolerance does not eliminate the possibility of methadone overdose, iatrogenic or otherwise. Deaths have been reported during conversion to methadone from chronic, high-dose treatment with other opioid agonists and during initiation of methadone treatment of addiction in subjects previously abusing high doses of other opioid agonists.
- There is high interpatient variability in absorption, metabolism, and relative analgesic potency. Population-based conversion ratios between methadone and other opioids are not accurate when applied to individuals.
- With repeated dosing, methadone is retained in the liver and then slowly released, prolonging the duration of potential toxicity.
- Steady-state plasma concentrations are not attained until 3 to 5 days after initiation of dosing.
- Methadone has a narrow therapeutic index, especially when combined with other drugs.
2.1 Induction/Initial Dosing for Detoxification and Maintenance Treatment of Opioid Addiction
For detoxification and maintenance of opioid dependence methadone should be administered in accordance with the treatment standards cited in 42 CFR Section 8.12, including limitations on unsupervised administration.
Methadone hydrochloride tablets for oral suspension are intended for dispersion in a liquid immediately prior to oral administration of the prescribed dose. The tablets should not be chewed or swallowed before dispersing in liquid. Methadone hydrochloride tablets for oral suspension are cross-scored, allowing for flexible dosage adjustment. Each cross-scored tablet may be broken or cut in half to yield two 20 mg doses, or in quarters to yield four 10 mg doses. Prior to administration, the desired dose of methadone hydrochloride tablets for oral suspension should be dispersed in approximately 120 mL (4 ounces) of water, orange juice, or other acidic fruit beverage prior to taking. Methadone hydrochloride is very soluble in water, but there are some insoluble excipients that will not entirely dissolve. If residue remains in the cup after initial administration, a small amount of liquid should be added and the resulting mixture administered to the patient.
Administer the initial methadone dose under supervision, when there are no signs of sedation or intoxication, and the patient shows symptoms of withdrawal. An initial single dose of 20 to 30 mg of methadone will often be sufficient to suppress withdrawal symptoms. The initial dose should not exceed 30 mg.
To make same-day dosing adjustments, have the patient wait 2 to 4 hours for further evaluation, when peak levels have been reached. Provide an additional 5 to 10 mg of methadone if withdrawal symptoms have not been suppressed or if symptoms reappear.
The total daily dose of methadone on the first day of treatment should not ordinarily exceed 40 mg. Adjust the dose over the first week of treatment based on control of withdrawal symptoms at the time of expected peak activity (i.e., 2 to 4 hours after dosing). When adjusting the dose, keep in mind that methadone will accumulate over the first several days of dosing; deaths have occurred in early treatment due to the cumulative effects. Because methadone hydrochloride tablets for oral suspension can be administered only in 10 mg increments, methadone hydrochloride tablets for oral suspension may not be the appropriate product for initial dosing in many patients. Instruct patients that the dose will “hold” for a longer period of time as tissue stores of methadone accumulate.
Use lower initial doses for patients whose tolerance is expected to be low at treatment entry. Any patient who has not taken opioids for more than 5 days may no longer be tolerant. Do not determine initial doses based on previous treatment episodes or dollars spent per day on illicit drug use. Also consider concurrent medications and the general condition and medical status of the patient when selecting the initial dose.
For a brief course of stabilization followed by a period of medically supervised withdrawal, titrate the patient to a total daily dose of about 40 mg in divided doses to achieve an adequate stabilizing level. After 2 to 3 days of stabilization, gradually decrease the dose of methadone. Decrease the dose of methadone on a daily basis or at 2-day intervals, keeping the amount of methadone sufficient to keep withdrawal symptoms at a tolerable level. Hospitalized patients may tolerate a daily reduction of 20% of the total daily dose. Ambulatory patients may need a slower schedule. Because methadone hydrochloride tablets for oral suspension can be administered only in 10 mg increments, methadone hydrochloride tablets for oral suspension may not be the appropriate product for gradual dose reduction in many patients.
2.2 Titration and Maintenance Treatment of Opioid Dependence
Titrate patients in maintenance treatment to a dose that prevents opioid withdrawal symptoms for 24 hours, reduces drug hunger or craving, and blocks or attenuates the euphoric effects of self-administered opioids, ensuring that the patient is tolerant to the sedative effects of methadone. Most commonly, clinical stability is achieved at doses between 80 to 120 mg/day.
2.3 Medically Supervised Withdrawal After a Period of Maintenance Treatment for Opioid Addiction
There is considerable variability in the appropriate rate of methadone taper in patients choosing medically supervised withdrawal from methadone treatment. Dose reductions should generally be less than 10% of the established tolerance or maintenance dose, and 10 to 14-day intervals should elapse between dose reductions. Because methadone hydrochloride tablets for oral suspension can be administered only in 10 mg increments, it may not be the appropriate product for gradual dose reduction in many patients. Apprise patients of the high risk of relapse to illicit drug use associated with discontinuation of methadone maintenance treatment.
2.4 Risk of Relapse in Patients on Methadone Maintenance Treatment of Opioid Addiction
Abrupt opioid discontinuation can lead to development of opioid withdrawal symptoms [see Drug Abuse and Dependence (9.3)]. Opioid withdrawal symptoms have been associated with an increased risk of relapse to illicit drug use in susceptible patients.
2.5 Considerations for Management of Acute Pain During Methadone Maintenance Treatment
Patients in methadone maintenance treatment for opioid dependence who experience physical trauma, postoperative pain or other acute pain cannot be expected to derive analgesia from their existing dose of methadone. Such patients should be administered analgesics, including opioids, in doses that would otherwise be indicated for non-methadone-treated patients with similar painful conditions. When opioids are required for management of acute pain in methadone maintenance patients, somewhat higher and/or more frequent doses will often be required than would be the case for non-tolerant patients due to the opioid tolerance induced by methadone.
2.6 Dosage Adjustment During Pregnancy
Methadone clearance may be increased during pregnancy. During pregnancy, a woman’s methadone dose may need to be increased or the dosing interval decreased. Methadone should be used in pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1)].
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