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Ultram ER FDA Alerts

The FDA Alert(s) below may be specifically about Ultram ER or relate to a group or class of drugs which include Ultram ER (tramadol).

MedWatch Safety Alerts are distributed by the FDA and published by Drugs.com. Following is a list of possible medication recalls, market withdrawals, alerts and warnings. For the latest FDA MedWatch alerts, go here.

Recent FDA Alert(s) for tramadol

Codeine and Tramadol Medicines: Drug Safety Communication - Restricting Use in Children, Recommending Against Use in Breastfeeding Women

Apr 20, 2017

Audience: Pediatrics, OB/GYN, Internal Medicine

ISSUE: FDA is restricting the use of codeine and tramadol medicines in children. These medicines carry serious risks, including slowed or difficult breathing and death, which appear to be a greater risk in children younger than 12 years, and should not be used in these children. These medicines should also be limited in some older children. Single-ingredient codeine and all tramadol-containing products are FDA-approved only for use in adults. FDA is also recommending against the use of codeine and tramadol medicines in breastfeeding mothers due to possible harm to their infants.

As a result, FDA is requiring several changes to the labels of all prescription medicines containing these drugs. These new actions further limit the use of these medicines beyond the 2013 FDA restriction of codeine use in children younger than 18 years to treat pain after surgery to remove the tonsils and/or adenoids. FDA is now adding:

  • FDA’s strongest warning, called a Contraindication, to the drug labels of codeine and tramadol alerting that codeine should not be used to treat pain or cough and tramadol should not be used to treat pain in children younger than 12 years.
  • A new Contraindication to the tramadol label warning against its use in children younger than 18 years to treat pain after surgery to remove the tonsils and/or adenoids.
  • A new Warning to the drug labels of codeine and tramadol to recommend against their use in adolescents between 12 and 18 years who are obese or have conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea or severe lung disease, which may increase the risk of serious breathing problems.
  • A strengthened Warning to mothers that breastfeeding is not recommended when taking codeine or tramadol medicines due to the risk of serious adverse reactions in breastfed infants. These can include excess sleepiness, difficulty breastfeeding, or serious breathing problems that could result in death.

See the FDA Drug Safety Communication for a data summary, a list of approved drugs containing codeine and tramadol, and additional information.

BACKGROUND: Codeine is approved to treat pain and cough, and tramadol is approved to treat pain.

RECOMMENDATION: Health care professionals should be aware that tramadol and single-ingredient codeine medicines are FDA-approved only for use in adults. Consider recommending over-the-counter (OTC) or other FDA-approved prescription medicines for cough and pain management in children younger than 12 years and in adolescents younger than 18 years, especially those with certain genetic factors, obesity, or obstructive sleep apnea and other breathing problems. Cough is often secondary to infection, not serious, and usually will get better on its own so treatment may not be necessary.

Caregivers and patients should always read the label on prescription bottles to find out if a medicine contains codeine or tramadol. You can also ask your child’s health care provider or a pharmacist. Watch closely for signs of breathing problems in a child of any age who is taking these medicines or in infants exposed to codeine or tramadol through breastmilk. These signs include slow or shallow breathing, difficulty or noisy breathing, confusion, more than usual sleepiness, trouble breastfeeding, or limpness. If you notice any of these signs, stop giving the medicine and seek medical attention immediately by going to an emergency room or calling 911.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

[04/20/2017 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]

Tramadol: Drug Safety Communication - FDA Evaluating Risks of Using in Children Aged 17 and Younger

Sep 21, 2015

Audience: Health Professionals

ISSUE:  FDA is investigating the use of the pain medicine tramadol in children aged 17 years and younger, because of the rare but serious risk of slowed or difficult breathing. This risk may be increased in children treated with tramadol for pain after surgery to remove their tonsils and/or adenoids. FDA is evaluating all available information and will communicate final conclusions and recommendations to the public when the review is complete.

Tramadol is not FDA-approved for use in children; however, data show it is being used “off-label” in the pediatric population. Health care professionals should be aware of this and consider prescribing alternative FDA-approved pain medicines for children.

BACKGROUND: In the body, tramadol is converted in the liver to the active form of the opioid, called O-desmethyltramadol. Some people have genetic variations that cause tramadol to be converted to the active form of the opioid faster and more completely than usual. These people, called ultra-rapid metabolizers, are more likely to have higher-than-normal amounts of the active form of the opioid in their blood after taking tramadol, which can result in breathing difficulty that may lead to death. Recently, a 5-year-old child in France experienced severely slowed and difficult breathing requiring emergency intervention and hospitalization after taking a single prescribed dose of tramadol oral solution for pain relief following surgery to remove his tonsils and adenoids. The child was later found to be an ultra-rapid metabolizer and had high levels of O-desmethyltramadol in his body.

RECOMMENDATION: Parents and caregivers of children taking tramadol who notice any signs of slow or shallow breathing, difficult or noisy breathing, confusion, or unusual sleepiness should stop tramadol and seek medical attention immediately by taking their child to the emergency room or calling 911. Parents and caregivers should talk with their child’s health care professional if they have any questions or concerns about tramadol or other pain medicines their child is taking.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

[09/21/2015 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]

Ultram (tramadol hydrochloride), Ultracet (tramadol hydrochloride/acetaminophen): Label Change

May 25, 2010

Audience: Pain management healthcare professionals

[Posted 05/25/2010] Ortho-McNeil-Janssen and FDA notified healthcare professionals of changes to the Warnings section of the prescribing information for tramadol, a centrally acting synthetic opioid analgesic indicated for the management of moderate to moderately severe chronic pain. The strengthened Warnings information emphasizes the risk of suicide for patients who are addiction-prone, taking tranquilizers or antidepressant drugs and also warns of the risk of overdosage. 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. 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. Serious potential consequences of overdosage with tramadol are central nervous system depression, respiratory depression and death. Tramadol has mu-opioid agonist activity, can be abused and may be subject to criminal diversion.

[April 2010 - Dear Healthcare Professional Letter: Ultram - Ortho-McNeil-Janssen]
[April 2010 - Dear Healthcare Professional Letter: Ultracet - Ortho-McNeil-Janssen]

    

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