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acetaminophen/propoxyphene FDA Alerts

The FDA Alert(s) below may be specifically about acetaminophen/propoxyphene or relate to a group or class of drugs which include acetaminophen/propoxyphene.

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 acetaminophen/propoxyphene

Acetaminophen Prescription Combination Drug Products with more than 325 mg: FDA Statement - Recommendation to Discontinue Prescribing and Dispensing

Jan 14, 2014

Audience: Consumer, Dentistry, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pharmacy, Pain Management, Surgery

ISSUE: FDA is recommending health care professionals discontinue prescribing and dispensing prescription combination drug products that contain more than 325 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen per tablet, capsule or other dosage unit. There are no available data to show that taking more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per dosage unit provides additional benefit that outweighs the added risks for liver injury. Further, limiting the amount of acetaminophen per dosage unit will reduce the risk of severe liver injury from inadvertent acetaminophen overdose, which can lead to liver failure, liver transplant, and death.
 
Cases of severe liver injury with acetaminophen have occurred in patients who:

• took more than the prescribed dose of an acetaminophen-containing product in a 24-hour period;
• took more than one acetaminophen-containing product at the same time; or
• drank alcohol while taking acetaminophen products.

BACKGROUND: In January 2011 FDA asked manufacturers of prescription combination drug products containing acetaminophen to limit the amount of acetaminophen to no more than 325 mg in each tablet or capsule by January 14, 2014. FDA requested this action to protect consumers from the risk of severe liver damage which can result from taking too much acetaminophen. This category of prescription drugs combines acetaminophen with another ingredient intended to treat pain (most often an opioid), and these products are commonly prescribed to consumers for pain, such as pain from acute injuries, post-operative pain, or pain following dental procedures.

Acetaminophen is also widely used as an over-the-counter (OTC) pain and fever medication, and is often combined with other ingredients, such as cough and cold ingredients. FDA will address OTC acetaminophen products in another regulatory action. Many consumers are often unaware that many products (both prescription and OTC) contain acetaminophen, making it easy to accidentally take too much.

More than half of manufacturers have voluntarily complied with the FDA request. However, some prescription combination drug products containing more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per dosage unit remain available. In the near future FDA intends to institute proceedings to withdraw approval of prescription combination drug products containing more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per dosage unit that remain on the market.

RECOMMENDATION: FDA recommends that health care providers consider prescribing combination drug products that contain 325 mg or less of acetaminophen. FDA also recommends that when a pharmacist receives a prescription for a combination product with more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per dosage unit that they contact the prescriber to discuss a product with a lower dose of acetaminophen. A two tablet or two capsule dose may still be prescribed, if appropriate. In that case, the total dose of acetaminophen would be 650 mg (the amount in two 325 mg dosage units). When making individual dosing determinations, health care providers should always consider the amounts of both the acetaminophen and the opioid components in the prescription combination drug product.

Health care providers and pharmacists who have further questions are encouraged to contact the Division of Drug Information at 888.INFO.FDA (888-463-6332) or druginfo@fda.hhs.gov.

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:

[01/14/2014 -  FDA Statement - FDA]
[Acetaminophen Information - FDA]

Acetaminophen: Drug Safety Communication - Association with Risk of Serious Skin Reactions

Aug 1, 2013

Audience: Dermatology, Primary Care, Pharmacy

ISSUE: FDA notified healthcare professionals and patients that acetaminophen has been associated with a risk of rare but serious skin reactions. Acetaminophen is a common active ingredient to treat pain and reduce fever; it is included in many prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) products.  These skin reactions, known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), and acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP), can be fatal. These reactions can occur with first-time use of acetaminophen or at any time while it is being taken.  Other drugs used to treat fever and pain/body aches (e.g., non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen and naproxen) also carry the risk of causing serious skin reactions, which is already described in the warnings section of their drug labels.

BACKGROUND: This new information resulted from the Agency’s review of the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) database and the medical literature to evaluate cases of serious skin reactions associated with acetaminophen (see Data Summary at link below).  It is difficult to determine how frequently serious skin reactions occur with acetaminophen, due to the widespread use of the drug, differences in usage among individuals (e.g., occasional vs. long-term use), and the long period of time that the drug has been on the market; however it is likely that these events (i.e., SJS, TEN, and AGEP) occur rarely.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Health care professionals should be aware of this rare risk and consider acetaminophen, along with other drugs already known to have such an association, when assessing patients with potentially drug-induced skin reactions. Any patient who develops a skin rash or reaction while using acetaminophen or any other pain reliever/fever reducer should stop the drug and seek medical attention right away.  Anyone who has experienced a serious skin reaction with acetaminophen should not take the drug again and should contact their health care professional to discuss alternative pain relievers/fever reducers.

FDA will require that a warning be added to the labels of prescription drug products containing acetaminophen to address the risk of serious skin reactions. FDA will also request that manufacturers add a warning about serious skin reactions to the product labels of OTC acetaminophen drug products marketed under a new drug application and will encourage manufacturers of drug products marketed under the OTC monograph do the same.

[8/01/2013 - Consumer Update - FDA]

[8/01/2013 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]

Acetaminophen Prescription Products Limited to 325 mg Per Dosage Unit: Drug Safety Communication

Jan 13, 2011

Audience: Pharmacy, Pain Management

ISSUE: FDA notified healthcare professionals that it has asked drug manufacturers to limit the strength of acetaminophen in prescription drug products, predominantly combinations of acetaminophen and opioids, to 325 mg per tablet, capsule, or other dosage unit, making these products safer for patients. This action will help to reduce the risk of severe liver injury and allergic reactions associated with acetaminophen. A Boxed Warning highlighting the potential for severe liver injury and a Warning highlighting the potential for allergic reactions (swelling of the face, mouth, and throat, difficulty breathing, itching, or rash) will be added to the label of all prescription drug products that contain acetaminophen.

BACKGROUND: Acetaminophen, one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States, is widely and effectively used in both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) products to reduce pain and fever. Examples of prescription products that contain acetaminophen include hydrocodone with acetaminophen (Vicodin, Lortab), and oxycodone with acetaminophen (Tylox, Percocet). OTC products containing acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) are not affected by this action. Information about the potential for liver injury is already required on the label for OTC products containing acetaminophen. FDA is continuing to evaluate ways to reduce the risk of acetaminophen related liver injury from OTC products. No drug shortages are expected, because the 3-year implementation period should permit adequate time for necessary reformulations.

RECOMMENDATION: Healthcare professionals were reminded to advise patients not to exceed the acetaminophen maximum total daily dose (4 grams/day), and not to drink alcohol while taking acetaminophen-containing medications.

Healthcare professionals were encouraged to inform patients that there is no immediate danger to patients who take these combination pain medications, and patients should continue to take them as directed by their health care provider. The Drug Safety Communication provides additional information for healthcare professionals, information for patients, a data summary and a list of all affected products.

[01/13/2011 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]
[01/13/2011 - Q&As - FDA]
[01/13/2011 - News Release - FDA]
[01/13/2011 - Consumer Update - FDA]
[01/13/2011 - Prescription Acetaminophen/Opioid Combinations - FDA Video]

Propoxyphene: Withdrawal - Risk of Cardiac Toxicity

Nov 19, 2010

Audience: Pain management, Pharmacy

Sold as Darvon, Darvocet, and generics

ISSUE: FDA notified healthcare professionals that Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals has agreed to withdraw propoxyphene, an opioid pain reliever used to treat mild to moderate pain, from the U.S. market at the request of the FDA, due to new data showing that the drug can cause serious toxicity to the heart, even when used at therapeutic doses. FDA concluded that the safety risks of propoxyphene outweigh its benefits for pain relief at recommended doses. FDA requested that the generic manufacturers of propoxyphene-containing products remove their products as well.

BACKGROUND: FDA’s recommendation is based on all available data including data from a new study that evaluated the effects that increasing doses of propoxyphene have on the heart (see Data Summary in Drug Safety Communication). The results of the new study showed that when propoxyphene was taken at therapeutic doses, there were significant changes to the electrical activity of the heart: prolonged PR interval, widened QRS complex and prolonged QT interval. These changes can increase the risk for serious abnormal heart rhythms.

RECOMMENDATION: FDA recommends that healthcare professionals stop prescribing and dispensing propoxyphene-containing products to patients, contact patients currently taking propoxyphene-containing products and ask them to discontinue the drug, inform patients of the risks associated with propoxyphene, and discuss alternative pain management strategies. Patients were advised to dispose of unused propoxyphene in household trash by following the recommendations outlined in the Federal Drug Disposal Guidelines.

 

[11/19/2010 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]
[11/19/2010 - News Release (with video) - FDA]

Supporting Documents:

[11/19/2010 - Updated Epidemiological Review of Propoxyphene Safety - FDA]
[10/21/2010 - Multiple Ascending Dose (MAD) Study Review - FDA]

    

Propoxyphene-containing Products

Jul 7, 2009

Audience: Pharmacists, pain management healthcare professionals

FDA notified healthcare professionals that it is taking several actions to reduce the risk of overdose in patients using pain medications that contain propoxyphene because of data linking propoxyphene and fatal overdoses. The agency will require manufacturers of propoxyphene-containing products to strengthen the label, including the boxed warning, emphasizing the potential for overdose when using these products and to provide a medication guide to patients stressing the importance of using the drugs as directed.

FDA is requiring a new safety study assessing unanswered questions about the effects of propoxyphene on the heart at higher than recommended doses. Findings from this study, as well as other data, could lead to additional regulatory action. To further evaluate the safety of propoxyphene, FDA plans to work with several groups including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Veterans Health Administration to study how often the elderly are prescribed propoxyphene instead of other pain relievers and the difference in the safety profiles of propoxyphene compared to other drugs.

[07/07/2009 - News Release - FDA]

[07/07/2009 - Questions and Answers - FDA]

    

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