Medically reviewed: December 12, 2017
What is tapentadol?
Tapentadol is an opioid pain medication, sometimes called a narcotic.
Tapentadol is used to treat moderate to severe pain.
The extended-release form of this medicine (Nucynta ER) is for around-the-clock treatment of pain that is not controlled by other medicines. This form of tapentadol is not for use on an as-needed basis for pain.
Tapentadol may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Tapentadol 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.
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 medication if you are allergic to tapentadol, or if you have:
severe asthma or breathing problems; or
a blockage in your digestive tract (stomach or intestines).
Do not use tapentadol if you have taken an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, and tranylcypromine.
To make sure tapentadol is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
any type of breathing problem or lung disease;
drug or alcohol addiction, or mental illness;
liver or kidney disease; or
problems with your gallbladder, pancreas, or thyroid.
If you use tapentadol while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. 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. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
It is not known whether tapentadol passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
Do not give tapentadol to a child.
How should I take tapentadol?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Tapentadol can slow or stop your breathing, especially when you start using this medicine or whenever your dose is changed. Never use tapentadol in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your pain.
Tapentadol may be habit-forming, even at regular doses. 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 tapentadol is against the law.
Take this medicine with a full glass of water. Tapentadol can be taken with or without food.
Stop taking all other around-the-clock narcotic pain medications when you start taking tapentadol extended-release tablets.
Do not crush, break, or open an extended-release pill. Swallow it whole to avoid exposure to a potentially fatal dose.
Tapentadol can cause constipation. Talk to your doctor before using a laxative or stool softener to treat or prevent this side effect.
While using tapentadol, you may need frequent blood tests.
Do not stop using tapentadol suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using tapentadol.
Never crush or break a tapentadol pill to inhale the powder or mix it into a liquid to inject the drug into your vein. This practice has resulted in death with the misuse of tapentadol and similar prescription drugs.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Keep track of your medicine. Tapentadol is a drug 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 tapentadol 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 take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
Do not take extra medicine to make up a missed dose. Do not take more than your prescribed dose in a 24-hour period.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. A tapentadol overdose can be fatal, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Overdose symptoms may include slow breathing and heart rate, severe drowsiness, muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, pinpoint pupils, fainting, or coma.
What should I avoid while taking tapentadol?
Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death could occur.
This medication may impair your thinking or reactions. Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how tapentadol will affect you. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls or other accidents.
Tapentadol side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; chest pain, fast heartbeats, difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Like other narcotic medicines, tapentadol can slow your breathing. Death may occur if breathing becomes too weak.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
weak or shallow breathing, weak pulse, slow heartbeat;
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
agitation, feeling hot;
severe drowsiness or dizziness, confusion, problems with speech or balance;
infertility, missed menstrual periods;
impotence, sexual problems, loss of interest in sex; or
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 may include:
constipation, mild nausea, stomach pain;
headache, tired feeling; or
mild drowsiness or dizziness.
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)
What other drugs will affect tapentadol?
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:
other narcotic medications--opioid pain medicine or prescription cough medicine;
drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing--a sleeping pill, muscle relaxer, tranquilizer, antidepressant, or antipsychotic medicine; o
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with tapentadol, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
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.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 8.01.
More about Nucynta (tapentadol)
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- Drug class: narcotic analgesics