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acetaminophen, butalbital, caffeine, and codeine

Generic Name: acetaminophen, butalbital, caffeine, and codeine (a SEET a MIN o fen, bue TAL bi tal, KAF een, and KOE deen)
Brand Name: Fioricet with Codeine, Phrenilin with Caffeine and Codeine

What is this acetaminophen, butalbital, caffeine, and codeine?

Codeine is an opioid pain medication (sometimes called a narcotic). Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever. Butalbital is a barbiturate that relaxes muscle contractions. Caffeine is a stimulant that relaxes blood vessels to improve blood flow.

Acetaminophen, butalbital, caffeine, and codeine is a combination medicine used to treat tension headaches.

Acetaminophen, butalbital, caffeine, and codeine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Codeine can slow or stop your breathing, and may be habit-forming. MISUSE OF THIS MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription.

This medicine is not for use in anyone under 18.

Taking this medicine during pregnancy may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.

Fatal side effects can occur if you use this medicine with alcohol, or with other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to acetaminophen, butalbital, caffeine, or codeine, or if you have:

Do not give this medicine to anyone younger than 18 years old.

To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

If you use butalbital or codeine while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on these drugs. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks.

Do not breast-feed. Codeine can pass into breast milk and may cause drowsiness, breathing problems, or death in a nursing baby.

How should I take this medicine?

In some people, codeine breaks down rapidly in the liver and reaches higher than normal levels in the body. This can cause dangerously slow breathing and may cause death.

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Codeine can slow or stop your breathing. Never take this medicine in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. An overdose can damage your liver or cause death. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your pain.

Butalbital and codeine may be habit-forming. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. MISUSE OF NARCOTIC MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.

Do not stop using this medicine suddenly after long-term use, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using the medicine.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep track of your medicine. Butalbital and codeine are drugs of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.

Do not keep leftover opioid medication. Just one dose can cause death in someone using this medicine accidentally or improperly. Ask your pharmacist where to locate a drug take-back disposal program. If there is no take-back program, flush the unused medicine down the toilet.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since this medicine is used for pain, you are not likely to miss a dose. Skip any missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of this medicine can be fatal, especially in a child or another person using the medicine without a prescription. Overdose can cause severe muscle weakness, pinpoint pupils, very slow breathing, extreme drowsiness, or coma.

What should I avoid while taking this medicine?

Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death could occur.

This medication may cause blurred vision and may impair your thinking or reactions. Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how the medication will affect you. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls or other accidents.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any other cold, allergy, pain, or sleep medication. Acetaminophen (sometimes abbreviated as APAP) is contained in many combination medicines. Taking certain products together can cause you to get too much acetaminophen which can lead to a fatal overdose.

This medicine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

In rare cases, acetaminophen may cause a severe skin reaction that can be fatal, even if you have taken acetaminophen in the past and had no reaction. Stop taking this medicine and call your doctor right away if you have skin redness or a rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling. If you have this type of reaction, you should never again take any medicine that contains acetaminophen.

Like other narcotic medicines, codeine can slow your breathing. Death may occur if breathing becomes too weak.

A person caring for you should seek emergency medical attention if you have slow breathing with long pauses, blue colored lips, or if you are hard to wake up.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • noisy breathing, sighing, shallow breathing;

  • a slow heart rate or weak pulse;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • chest pain, fast or pounding heart rate, feeling short of breath;

  • confusion, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior, feelings of extreme happiness or sadness;

  • little or no urination;

  • muscle twitching, seizure (convulsions);

  • low cortisol levels-- nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, worsening tiredness or weakness; or

  • liver problems--nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tiredness, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Serious side effects may be more likely in older adults and those who are overweight, malnourished, or debilitated.

Long-term use of opioid medication may affect fertility (ability to have children) in men or women. It is not known whether opioid effects on fertility are permanent.

Common side effects include:

  • drowsiness, dizziness, feeling "drunk";

  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, constipation; or

  • headache, feeling tired.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Acetaminophen, butalbital, caffeine, and codeine dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Headache:

1 or 2 capsules orally every 4 hours as needed not to exceed 6 capsules per day

-Because of the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse, prescribing should be reserved to patients for whom alternative options have not been tolerated or are not expected to be tolerated; and for patients for whom alternative options have not provided adequate analgesia or are not expected to provide adequate analgesia.
-The safety and efficacy of treating multiple recurrent headaches with this product is not known.

Uses: For the relief of the symptom complex of tension (or muscle contraction) headache when nonopioid analgesic and alternative treatments are inadequate.

What other drugs will affect acetaminophen, butalbital, caffeine, and codeine?

Narcotic (opioid) medication can interact with many other drugs and cause dangerous side effects or death. Be sure your doctor knows if you also use:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with acetaminophen, butalbital, caffeine, and codeine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about acetaminophen, butalbital, caffeine, and codeine.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 16.01.

Last reviewed: January 15, 2018
Date modified: March 06, 2018