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Promethazine, Phenylephrine, and Codeine

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 17, 2020.

Pronunciation

(proe METH a zeen, fen il EF rin, & KOE deen)

Index Terms

  • Codeine, Phenylephrine, and Promethazine
  • Phenylephrine, Promethazine, and Codeine
  • Promethazine/Phenyleph/Codeine

Dosage Forms

Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling.

Syrup, Oral:

Promethazine VC/Codeine: Promethazine hydrochloride 6.25 mg, phenylephrine hydrochloride 5 mg, and codeine phosphate 10 mg per 5 mL (120 mL, 480 mL) [contains alcohol, fd&c yellow #6 (sunset yellow),methylparaben,propylene glycol,propylparaben,saccharin sodium, sodium benzoate]

Generic: Promethazine hydrochloride 6.25 mg, phenylephrine hydrochloride 5 mg, and codeine phosphate 10 mg per 5 mL (120 mL, 480 mL)

Brand Names: U.S.

  • Promethazine VC/Codeine

Pharmacologic Category

  • Alpha-Adrenergic Agonist
  • Analgesic, Opioid
  • Antitussive
  • Decongestant
  • Histamine H1 Antagonist
  • Histamine H1 Antagonist, First Generation
  • Phenothiazine Derivative

Pharmacology

Codeine: Binds to opioid receptors in the CNS, causing inhibition of ascending pain pathways, altering the perception of and response to pain; causes cough suppression by direct central action in the medulla; produces generalized CNS depression.

Phenylephrine: Causes vasoconstriction of the arterioles of the nasal mucosa.

Promethazine: Phenothiazine derivative; blocks postsynaptic mesolimbic dopaminergic receptors in the brain; exhibits a strong alpha-adrenergic blocking effect and depresses the release of hypothalamic and hypophyseal hormones; competes with histamine for the H1-receptor; muscarinic-blocking effect may be responsible for antiemetic activity; reduces stimuli to the brainstem reticular system.

Use: Labeled Indications

Cough and upper respiratory symptoms: Temporary relief of coughs and upper respiratory symptoms, including nasal congestion, associated with allergy or the common cold in patients ≥18 years of age.

Contraindications

Hypersensitivity to promethazine, phenylephrine, codeine, other phenothiazines, or any component of the formulation; idiosyncratic reaction to promethazine or other phenothiazines; pediatric patients <12 years of age; postoperative management in pediatric patients <18 years of age who have undergone tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy; significant respiratory depression; acute or severe bronchial asthma in an unmonitored setting or in the absence of resuscitative equipment; GI obstruction (known or suspected), including paralytic ileus; narrow angle glaucoma; urinary retention; severe hypertension; severe coronary artery disease; peripheral vascular insufficiency; concurrent use with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or use of MAOIs within the last 14 days.

Documentation of allergenic cross-reactivity for opioids is limited. However, because of similarities in chemical structure and/or pharmacologic actions, the possibility of cross-sensitivity cannot be ruled out with certainty.

Dosing: Adult

Cough and upper respiratory symptoms: Oral: 5 mL every 4 to 6 hours (maximum: 30 mL [codeine 60 mg/promethazine 37.5 mg/phenylephrine 30 mg] per 24 hours).

Dosage adjustment for concomitant therapy: Significant drug interactions exist, requiring dose/frequency adjustment or avoidance. Consult drug interactions database for more information.

Dosing: Geriatric

Avoid use (Beers Criteria [AGS 2019]).

Dosing: Pediatric

Antitussive (nonproductive cough) and upper respiratory symptoms: Note: Due to risk of adverse effects (slowed or difficult breathing, misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose, and death), the FDA in January 2018 recommended against routine use of codeine/hydrocodone-containing cough/cold products for patients <18 years and that future manufacturer labeling for these products include a contraindication in this population (AAP 2018; FDA 2018a; FDA 2018b)

Manufacturer's labeling: Note: Not all products approved for use in pediatric patients; refer to manufacturer specific labeling. Some products are contraindicated in ages <12 years.

Oral: Oral solution: Promethazine 6.25 mg, phenylephrine 5 mg, and codeine 10 mg per 5 mL:

Children 6 to 11 years: 2.5 to 5 mL every 4 to 6 hours as needed; maximum daily dose: 30 mL/24 hours

Children ≥12 years and Adolescents: 5 mL every 4 to 6 hours as needed; maximum daily dose: 30 mL/24 hours

Dosage adjustment for concomitant therapy: Significant drug interactions exist, requiring dose/frequency adjustment or avoidance. Consult drug interactions database for more information.

Administration

Administer with an accurate measuring device; do not use a household teaspoon (overdosage may occur).

Storage

Store at 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). Protect from light.

Drug Interactions

Acetaminophen: May increase the serum concentration of Phenylephrine (Systemic). Monitor therapy

Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Anticholinergic Agents. Anticholinergic Agents may diminish the therapeutic effect of Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors. Monitor therapy

Aclidinium: May enhance the anticholinergic effect of Anticholinergic Agents. Avoid combination

Ajmaline: May increase the serum concentration of CYP2D6 Substrates (High risk with Inhibitors). Monitor therapy

Alizapride: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Alpha1-Blockers: May diminish the vasoconstricting effect of Alpha1-Agonists. Similarly, Alpha1-Agonists may antagonize Alpha1-Blocker vasodilation. Monitor therapy

Alvimopan: Opioid Agonists may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Alvimopan. This is most notable for patients receiving long-term (i.e., more than 7 days) opiates prior to alvimopan initiation. Management: Alvimopan is contraindicated in patients receiving therapeutic doses of opioids for more than 7 consecutive days immediately prior to alvimopan initiation. Consider therapy modification

Amantadine: May enhance the anticholinergic effect of Anticholinergic Agents. Monitor therapy

Aminolevulinic Acid (Systemic): Photosensitizing Agents may enhance the photosensitizing effect of Aminolevulinic Acid (Systemic). Avoid combination

Aminolevulinic Acid (Topical): Photosensitizing Agents may enhance the photosensitizing effect of Aminolevulinic Acid (Topical). Monitor therapy

Amphetamines: May enhance the analgesic effect of Opioid Agonists. Monitor therapy

Anticholinergic Agents: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of other Anticholinergic Agents. Monitor therapy

Anticholinergic Agents: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Opioid Agonists. Specifically, the risk for constipation and urinary retention may be increased with this combination. Monitor therapy

AtoMOXetine: May enhance the hypertensive effect of Sympathomimetics. AtoMOXetine may enhance the tachycardic effect of Sympathomimetics. Monitor therapy

Azelastine (Nasal): May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Avoid combination

Benzylpenicilloyl Polylysine: Alpha1-Agonists may diminish the diagnostic effect of Benzylpenicilloyl Polylysine. Management: Consider use of a histamine skin test as a positive control to assess a patient's ability to mount a wheal and flare response. Consider therapy modification

Blonanserin: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Blonanserin. Management: Use caution if coadministering blonanserin and CNS depressants; dose reduction of the other CNS depressant may be required. Strong CNS depressants should not be coadministered with blonanserin. Consider therapy modification

Botulinum Toxin-Containing Products: May enhance the anticholinergic effect of Anticholinergic Agents. Monitor therapy

Brimonidine (Topical): May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Bromopride: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Promethazine. Avoid combination

Bromperidol: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Avoid combination

Cannabidiol: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Cannabis: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Chlormethiazole: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Management: Monitor closely for evidence of excessive CNS depression. The chlormethiazole labeling states that an appropriately reduced dose should be used if such a combination must be used. Consider therapy modification

Chloroprocaine: May enhance the hypertensive effect of Phenylephrine (Systemic). Monitor therapy

Chlorphenesin Carbamate: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Cimetropium: Anticholinergic Agents may enhance the anticholinergic effect of Cimetropium. Avoid combination

CloZAPine: Anticholinergic Agents may enhance the constipating effect of CloZAPine. Management: Consider alternatives to this combination whenever possible. If combined, monitor closely for signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal hypomotility and consider prophylactic laxative treatment. Consider therapy modification

CNS Depressants: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of Opioid Agonists. Management: Avoid concomitant use of opioid agonists and benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants when possible. These agents should only be combined if alternative treatment options are inadequate. If combined, limit the dosages and duration of each drug. Consider therapy modification

Cobicistat: May increase the serum concentration of CYP2D6 Substrates (High risk with Inhibitors). Monitor therapy

Cocaine (Topical): May enhance the hypertensive effect of Sympathomimetics. Management: Consider alternatives to use of this combination when possible. Monitor closely for substantially increased blood pressure or heart rate and for any evidence of myocardial ischemia with concurrent use. Consider therapy modification

CYP2D6 Inhibitors (Moderate): May diminish the therapeutic effect of Codeine. These CYP2D6 inhibitors may prevent the metabolic conversion of codeine to its active metabolite morphine. Monitor therapy

CYP2D6 Inhibitors (Strong): May diminish the therapeutic effect of Codeine. These CYP2D6 inhibitors may prevent the metabolic conversion of codeine to its active metabolite morphine. Monitor therapy

CYP3A4 Inducers (Moderate): May decrease serum concentrations of the active metabolite(s) of Codeine. Monitor therapy

CYP3A4 Inducers (Strong): May decrease serum concentrations of the active metabolite(s) of Codeine. Monitor therapy

CYP3A4 Inhibitors (Moderate): May increase serum concentrations of the active metabolite(s) of Codeine. Monitor therapy

CYP3A4 Inhibitors (Strong): May increase serum concentrations of the active metabolite(s) of Codeine. Monitor therapy

Desmopressin: Opioid Agonists may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Desmopressin. Monitor therapy

Dimethindene (Topical): May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Diuretics: Opioid Agonists may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Diuretics. Opioid Agonists may diminish the therapeutic effect of Diuretics. Monitor therapy

Doxofylline: Sympathomimetics may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Doxofylline. Monitor therapy

Dronabinol: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Droperidol: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Management: Consider dose reductions of droperidol or of other CNS agents (eg, opioids, barbiturates) with concomitant use. Consider therapy modification

Eluxadoline: Opioid Agonists may enhance the constipating effect of Eluxadoline. Avoid combination

Eluxadoline: Anticholinergic Agents may enhance the constipating effect of Eluxadoline. Avoid combination

EPINEPHrine (Nasal): Promethazine may diminish the vasoconstricting effect of EPINEPHrine (Nasal). Monitor therapy

EPINEPHrine (Oral Inhalation): Promethazine may diminish the therapeutic effect of EPINEPHrine (Oral Inhalation). Monitor therapy

Epinephrine (Racemic): Promethazine may diminish the vasoconstricting effect of Epinephrine (Racemic). Management: Monitor for diminished vasoconstrictive effects of racemic epinephrine (e.g., diminished efficacy when used for gingival retraction). This interaction is likely of less concern in patients receiving epinephrine for other purposes (e.g., bronchodilation). Monitor therapy

EPINEPHrine (Systemic): Promethazine may diminish the vasoconstricting effect of EPINEPHrine (Systemic). Management: Avoid epinephrine and consider norepinephrine or phenylephrine when treating hypotension due to promethazine overdose. Consider alternative vasocontrictors in patients treated with promethazine. This combination may be indicated in anaphylaxis treatment. Consider therapy modification

Ergot Derivatives: May enhance the hypertensive effect of Alpha1-Agonists. Ergot Derivatives may enhance the vasoconstricting effect of Alpha1-Agonists. Avoid combination

Flunitrazepam: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Flunitrazepam. Management: Reduce the dose of CNS depressants when combined with flunitrazepam and monitor patients for evidence of CNS depression (eg, sedation, respiratory depression). Use non-CNS depressant alternatives when available. Consider therapy modification

Gastrointestinal Agents (Prokinetic): Anticholinergic Agents may diminish the therapeutic effect of Gastrointestinal Agents (Prokinetic). Monitor therapy

Gastrointestinal Agents (Prokinetic): Opioid Agonists may diminish the therapeutic effect of Gastrointestinal Agents (Prokinetic). Monitor therapy

Glucagon: Anticholinergic Agents may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Glucagon. Specifically, the risk of gastrointestinal adverse effects may be increased. Monitor therapy

Glycopyrrolate (Oral Inhalation): Anticholinergic Agents may enhance the anticholinergic effect of Glycopyrrolate (Oral Inhalation). Avoid combination

Glycopyrronium (Topical): May enhance the anticholinergic effect of Anticholinergic Agents. Avoid combination

Guanethidine: May enhance the arrhythmogenic effect of Sympathomimetics. Guanethidine may enhance the hypertensive effect of Sympathomimetics. Monitor therapy

Hyaluronidase: May enhance the vasoconstricting effect of Phenylephrine (Systemic). Management: Avoid the use of hyaluronidase to enhance dispersion or absorption of phenylephrine. Use of hyaluronidase for other purposes in patients receiving phenylephrine may be considered as clinically indicated. Avoid combination

Iobenguane Radiopharmaceutical Products: Alpha1-Agonists may diminish the therapeutic effect of Iobenguane Radiopharmaceutical Products. Management: Discontinue all drugs that may inhibit or interfere with catecholamine transport or uptake for at least 5 biological half-lives before iobenguane administration. Do not administer these drugs until at least 7 days after each iobenguane dose. Avoid combination

Ioflupane I 123: Phenylephrine (Systemic) may diminish the diagnostic effect of Ioflupane I 123. Monitor therapy

Ipratropium (Oral Inhalation): May enhance the anticholinergic effect of Anticholinergic Agents. Avoid combination

Itopride: Anticholinergic Agents may diminish the therapeutic effect of Itopride. Monitor therapy

Kava Kava: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Lemborexant: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Management: Dosage adjustments of lemborexant and of concomitant CNS depressants may be necessary when administered together because of potentially additive CNS depressant effects. Close monitoring for CNS depressant effects is necessary. Consider therapy modification

Levosulpiride: Anticholinergic Agents may diminish the therapeutic effect of Levosulpiride. Avoid combination

Lofexidine: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Lumefantrine: May increase the serum concentration of CYP2D6 Substrates (High risk with Inhibitors). Monitor therapy

Magnesium Sulfate: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Methotrimeprazine: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Methotrimeprazine. Methotrimeprazine may enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Management: Reduce the usual dose of CNS depressants by 50% if starting methotrimeprazine until the dose of methotrimeprazine is stable. Monitor patient closely for evidence of CNS depression. Consider therapy modification

Metoclopramide: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Promethazine. Avoid combination

MetyroSINE: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Promethazine. Monitor therapy

Minocycline (Systemic): May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Mirabegron: Anticholinergic Agents may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Mirabegron. Monitor therapy

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Codeine. Avoid combination

Nabilone: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Nalmefene: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Opioid Agonists. Management: Avoid the concomitant use of nalmefene and opioid agonists. Discontinue nalmefene 1 week prior to any anticipated use of opioid agonistss. If combined, larger doses of opioid agonists will likely be required. Consider therapy modification

Naltrexone: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Opioid Agonists. Management: Seek therapeutic alternatives to opioids. See full drug interaction monograph for detailed recommendations. Avoid combination

Nefazodone: Opioid Agonists (metabolized by CYP3A4 and CYP2D6) may enhance the serotonergic effect of Nefazodone. This could result in serotonin syndrome. Nefazodone may increase the serum concentration of Opioid Agonists (metabolized by CYP3A4 and CYP2D6). Management: Monitor for increased opioid effects, including fatal respiratory depression, when these agents are combined and consider opioid dose reductions until stable drug effects are achieved. Additionally, monitor for serotonin syndrome/serotonin toxicity. Monitor therapy

Nitroglycerin: Anticholinergic Agents may decrease the absorption of Nitroglycerin. Specifically, anticholinergic agents may decrease the dissolution of sublingual nitroglycerin tablets, possibly impairing or slowing nitroglycerin absorption. Monitor therapy

Opioid Agonists: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Opioid Agonists. Management: Avoid concomitant use of opioid agonists and benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants when possible. These agents should only be combined if alternative treatment options are inadequate. If combined, limit the dosages and duration of each drug. Consider therapy modification

Opioids (Mixed Agonist / Antagonist): May diminish the analgesic effect of Opioid Agonists. Management: Seek alternatives to mixed agonist/antagonist opioids in patients receiving pure opioid agonists, and monitor for symptoms of therapeutic failure/high dose requirements (or withdrawal in opioid-dependent patients) if patients receive these combinations. Avoid combination

Orphenadrine: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Orphenadrine. Avoid combination

Oxatomide: May enhance the anticholinergic effect of Anticholinergic Agents. Avoid combination

Oxomemazine: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Avoid combination

Oxybate Salt Products: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Oxybate Salt Products. Management: Consider alternatives to this combination when possible. If combined, dose reduction or discontinuation of one or more CNS depressants (including the oxybate salt product) should be considered. Interrupt oxybate salt treatment during short-term opioid use Consider therapy modification

OxyCODONE: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of OxyCODONE. Management: Avoid concomitant use of oxycodone and benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants when possible. These agents should only be combined if alternative treatment options are inadequate. If combined, limit the dosages and duration of each drug. Consider therapy modification

Ozanimod: May enhance the hypertensive effect of Sympathomimetics. Management: Concomitant use of ozanimod with sympathomimetic agents is not recommended. If combined, monitor patients closely for the development of hypertension, including hypertensive crises. Consider therapy modification

Paraldehyde: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Paraldehyde. Avoid combination

Peginterferon Alfa-2b: May decrease the serum concentration of CYP2D6 Substrates (High risk with Inhibitors). Peginterferon Alfa-2b may increase the serum concentration of CYP2D6 Substrates (High risk with Inhibitors). Monitor therapy

Pegvisomant: Opioid Agonists may diminish the therapeutic effect of Pegvisomant. Monitor therapy

Perampanel: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Management: Patients taking perampanel with any other drug that has CNS depressant activities should avoid complex and high-risk activities, particularly those such as driving that require alertness and coordination, until they have experience using the combination. Consider therapy modification

PHENobarbital: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of Codeine. PHENobarbital may decrease the serum concentration of Codeine. Management: Avoid use of codeine and phenobarbital when possible. Monitor for respiratory depression/sedation. Because phenobarbital is also a strong CYP3A4 inducer, monitor for decreased codeine efficacy and withdrawal if combined. Consider therapy modification

Piribedil: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Piribedil. Monitor therapy

Porfimer: Photosensitizing Agents may enhance the photosensitizing effect of Porfimer. Monitor therapy

Potassium Chloride: Anticholinergic Agents may enhance the ulcerogenic effect of Potassium Chloride. Management: Patients on drugs with substantial anticholinergic effects should avoid using any solid oral dosage form of potassium chloride. Avoid combination

Potassium Citrate: Anticholinergic Agents may enhance the ulcerogenic effect of Potassium Citrate. Avoid combination

Pramipexole: CNS Depressants may enhance the sedative effect of Pramipexole. Monitor therapy

Pramlintide: May enhance the anticholinergic effect of Anticholinergic Agents. These effects are specific to the GI tract. Avoid combination

Primidone: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of Codeine. Primidone may decrease the serum concentration of Codeine. Management: Avoid use of codeine and primidone when possible. Monitor for respiratory depression/sedation. Because primidone is also a strong CYP3A4 inducer, monitor for decreased codeine efficacy and withdrawal if combined. Consider therapy modification

Propacetamol: May increase the serum concentration of Phenylephrine (Systemic). Management: Monitor patients closely for increased side effects of phenylephrine if propacetamol is used concomitantly. Patients with underlying blood pressure issues or arrhythmias may need closer monitoring and may warrant consideration of alternative therapies. Monitor therapy

Ramosetron: Anticholinergic Agents may enhance the constipating effect of Ramosetron. Monitor therapy

Ramosetron: Opioid Agonists may enhance the constipating effect of Ramosetron. Monitor therapy

Revefenacin: Anticholinergic Agents may enhance the anticholinergic effect of Revefenacin. Avoid combination

ROPINIRole: CNS Depressants may enhance the sedative effect of ROPINIRole. Monitor therapy

Rotigotine: CNS Depressants may enhance the sedative effect of Rotigotine. Monitor therapy

Rufinamide: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of CNS Depressants. Specifically, sleepiness and dizziness may be enhanced. Monitor therapy

Secretin: Anticholinergic Agents may diminish the therapeutic effect of Secretin. Management: Avoid concomitant use of anticholinergic agents and secretin. Discontinue anticholinergic agents at least 5 half-lives prior to administration of secretin. Consider therapy modification

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (Strong CYP2D6 Inhibitors): Opioid Agonists (metabolized by CYP3A4 and CYP2D6) may enhance the serotonergic effect of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (Strong CYP2D6 Inhibitors). This could result in serotonin syndrome. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (Strong CYP2D6 Inhibitors) may diminish the therapeutic effect of Opioid Agonists (metabolized by CYP3A4 and CYP2D6). Management: Monitor for decreased therapeutic response (eg, analgesia) and opioid withdrawal when coadministered with SSRIs that strongly inhibit CYP2D6. Additionally, monitor for serotonin syndrome/serotonin toxicity if these drugs are combined. Monitor therapy

Serotonergic Agents (High Risk): Opioid Agonists (metabolized by CYP3A4 and CYP2D6) may enhance the serotonergic effect of Serotonergic Agents (High Risk). This could result in serotonin syndrome. Management: Monitor for signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome/serotonin toxicity (eg, hyperreflexia, clonus, hyperthermia, diaphoresis, tremor, autonomic instability, mental status changes) when these agents are combined. Monitor therapy

Sincalide: Drugs that Affect Gallbladder Function may diminish the therapeutic effect of Sincalide. Management: Consider discontinuing drugs that may affect gallbladder motility prior to the use of sincalide to stimulate gallbladder contraction. Consider therapy modification

Solriamfetol: Sympathomimetics may enhance the hypertensive effect of Solriamfetol. Sympathomimetics may enhance the tachycardic effect of Solriamfetol. Monitor therapy

Somatostatin Analogs: May decrease the metabolism of Codeine. The formation of two major codeine metabolites (morphine and norcodeine) may be impaired by somatostatin analogs. Monitor therapy

Succinylcholine: May enhance the bradycardic effect of Opioid Agonists. Monitor therapy

Suvorexant: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Suvorexant. Management: Dose reduction of suvorexant and/or any other CNS depressant may be necessary. Use of suvorexant with alcohol is not recommended, and the use of suvorexant with any other drug to treat insomnia is not recommended. Consider therapy modification

Sympathomimetics: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of other Sympathomimetics. Monitor therapy

Tedizolid: May enhance the hypertensive effect of Sympathomimetics. Tedizolid may enhance the tachycardic effect of Sympathomimetics. Monitor therapy

Tetrahydrocannabinol: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy

Thalidomide: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Thalidomide. Avoid combination

Thiazide and Thiazide-Like Diuretics: Anticholinergic Agents may increase the serum concentration of Thiazide and Thiazide-Like Diuretics. Monitor therapy

Tiotropium: Anticholinergic Agents may enhance the anticholinergic effect of Tiotropium. Avoid combination

Umeclidinium: May enhance the anticholinergic effect of Anticholinergic Agents. Avoid combination

Verteporfin: Photosensitizing Agents may enhance the photosensitizing effect of Verteporfin. Monitor therapy

Zolpidem: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Zolpidem. Management: Reduce the Intermezzo brand sublingual zolpidem adult dose to 1.75 mg for men who are also receiving other CNS depressants. No such dose change is recommended for women. Avoid use with other CNS depressants at bedtime; avoid use with alcohol. Consider therapy modification

Test Interactions

See individual agents.

Adverse Reactions

The following adverse drug reactions and incidences are derived from product labeling unless otherwise specified.

Also see individual agents.

Postmarketing and/or case reports: Hypogonadism (Brennan 2013; Debono 2011)

ALERT: U.S. Boxed Warning

Addiction, abuse, and misuse:

Promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine exposes patients and other users to the risks of opioid addiction, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death. Reserve promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine for use in adult patients for whom the benefits of cough suppression are expected to outweigh the risks, and in whom an adequate assessment of the etiology of the cough has been made. Assess each patient's risk prior to prescribing promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine, prescribe for the shortest duration that is consistent with individual patient treatment goals, monitor all patients regularly for the development of addiction or abuse, and refill only after reevaluation of the need for continued treatment.

Life-threatening respiratory depression:

Serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression may occur with use of promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine. Monitor for respiratory depression, especially during initiation of therapy or when used in patients at higher risk.

​ Accidental ingestion:

Accidental ingestion of even one dose of promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine, especially by children, can result in a fatal overdose of codeine.

Ultra-rapid metabolism of codeine and other risk factors for life-threatening respiratory depression in children:

Life-threatening respiratory depression and death have occurred in children who received codeine. Most of the reported cases occurred following tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy, and many of the children had evidence of being an ultra-rapid metabolizer of codeine due to a CYP2D6 polymorphism. Promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine is contraindicated in pediatric patients <12 years of age and pediatric patients <18 years of age following tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy. Avoid the use of promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine in pediatric patients 12 to 18 years of age who have other risk factors that may increase their sensitivity to the respiratory depressant effects of codeine.

Promethazine and respiratory depression in children:

Postmarketing cases of respiratory depression, including fatalities have been reported with use of promethazine in pediatric patients. Children may be particularly sensitive to the additive respiratory depressant effects when promethazine is combined with other respiratory depressants, including codeine.

Risk of medication errors:

Ensure accuracy when prescribing, dispensing, and administering promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine oral solution. Dosing errors can result in accidental overdose and death. Always use an accurate millimeter measuring device when measuring and administering promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine oral solution.

Interactions with drugs affecting cytochrome P450 isoenzymes:

The effects of concomitant use or discontinuation of cytochrome P450 3A4 inducers, 3A4 inhibitors, or 2D6 inhibitors with codeine are complex, requiring careful consideration of the effects on the parent drug, codeine, and the active metabolite, morphine. Avoid the use of promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine in patients who are taking a cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibitor, 3A4 inducer, or 2D6 inhibitor.

Risks from concomitant use with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants:

Concomitant use of opioids with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants, including alcohol, may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death. Avoid use of promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine in patients taking benzodiazepines, other CNS depressants, or alcohol.

Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome:

Promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine is not recommended for use in pregnant women. Prolonged use of promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine during pregnancy can result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated, and requires management according to protocols developed by neonatology experts. If promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine is used for a prolonged period in a pregnant woman, advise the patient of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available.

Warnings/Precautions

Concerns related to adverse effects:

• Altered cardiac conduction: May alter cardiac conduction (life-threatening arrhythmias have occurred with therapeutic doses of phenothiazines).

• Anticholinergic effects: May cause anticholinergic effects (constipation, xerostomia, blurred vision, urinary retention); use with caution in patients with decreased gastrointestinal motility, urinary retention, BPH, xerostomia, or visual problems.

• CNS depression: May cause CNS depression, which may impair physical or mental abilities; patients must be cautioned about performing tasks that require mental alertness (eg, operating machinery, driving).

• Constipation: May cause or aggravate constipation; chronic use may result in obstructive bowel disease, particularly in those with underlying intestinal motility disorders. May also be problematic in patients with unstable angina and patients postmyocardial infarction. Consider preventative measures (eg, stool softener, increased fiber) to reduce the potential for constipation.

• Extrapyramidal symptoms: May cause extrapyramidal symptoms, including pseudoparkinsonism, acute dystonic reactions, akathisia, and tardive dyskinesia.

• Hypotension: May cause severe hypotension (including orthostatic hypotension and syncope); use with caution in patients with hypovolemia, cardiovascular disease (including acute MI), or drugs that may exaggerate hypotensive effects (including general anesthetics). Monitor for symptoms of hypotension following initiation or dose titration. Use with caution in patients with circulatory shock.

• Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS): Use may be associated with NMS; monitor for mental status changes, fever, muscle rigidity, and/or autonomic instability.

• Phenanthrene hypersensitivity: Use with caution in patients with hypersensitivity reactions to other phenanthrene derivative opioid agonists (hydrocodone, hydromorphone, levorphanol, oxycodone, oxymorphone).

• Photosensitivity: May cause photosensitivity; avoid prolonged sun exposure.

• Respiratory depression: [US Boxed Warning]: Serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression may occur with codeine use. Monitor for respiratory depression, especially during initiation of therapy or following a dose increase. Carbon dioxide retention from opioid-induced respiratory depression can exacerbate the sedating effects of opioids. Patients and caregivers should be educated on how to recognize respiratory depression and the importance of getting emergency assistance immediately (eg, calling 911) in the event of known or suspected overdose.

• Temperature regulation: Impaired core body temperature regulation may occur; caution with strenuous exercise, heat exposure, dehydration, and concomitant medication possessing anticholinergic effects.

Disease-related concerns:

• Abdominal conditions: May obscure diagnosis or clinical course of patients with acute abdominal conditions.

• Adrenal insufficiency: Use with caution in patients with adrenal insufficiency; reduce initial dose in patients with Addison disease.

• Biliary tract impairment: Use with caution in patients with biliary tract dysfunction, including acute pancreatitis; may cause constriction of sphincter of Oddi.

• Bone marrow suppression: Use with caution in patients with bone marrow suppression; leukopenia and agranulocytosis have been reported.

• Cardiovascular disease: Use with caution in patients with cardiovascular disease. Phenylephrine can cause a decrease in cardiac output; use extreme caution in patients with arteriosclerosis and/or patients with initially poor cerebral or coronary circulation.

• Delirium tremens: Use with caution in patients with delirium tremens.

• Head trauma: Use with extreme caution in patients with head injury, intracranial lesions, or elevated intracranial pressure; exaggerated elevation of ICP may occur.

• Hepatic impairment: Use with caution in patients with severe hepatic impairment; monitor closely for respiratory depression, sedation, and hypotension. Cholestatic jaundice has been reported with promethazine use.

• Myasthenia gravis: Use with caution in patients with myasthenia gravis; condition may be exacerbated by cholinergic blockade.

• Obesity: Use with caution in patients who are morbidly obese.

• Parkinson disease: Use with caution in patients with Parkinson disease; may have increased risk of tardive dyskinesia.

• Prostatic hyperplasia/urinary stricture: Use with caution in patients with prostatic hyperplasia and/or urinary stricture.

• Psychosis: Use with caution in patients with toxic psychosis.

• Renal impairment: Use with caution in patients with severe renal impairment; monitor closely for respiratory depression, sedation, and hypotension.

• Respiratory disease: Use with caution and monitor for respiratory depression in patients with significant chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cor pulmonale and those having a substantially decreased respiratory reserve, hypoxia, hypercarbia, or preexisting respiratory depression, particularly when initiating therapy and titrating therapy; critical respiratory depression may occur, even at therapeutic dosages. Consider the use of alternative nonopioid analgesics in these patients.

• Seizures: Use with caution in patients at risk of seizures, including those with a history of seizures, head trauma, brain damage, alcoholism, or concurrent therapy with medications which may lower seizure threshold; reduce initial dose in patients with convulsive disorders.

• Sleep-related disorders: Opioid use increases the risk for sleep-related disorders (eg, central sleep apnea [CSA], hypoxemia) in a dose-dependent fashion. Use with caution for chronic pain and titrate dosage cautiously in patients with risk factors for sleep-disordered breathing (eg, heart failure, obesity). Consider dose reduction in patients presenting with CSA. Avoid opioids in patients with moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing (Dowell [CDC 2016]).

• Thyroid disease: Use with caution in patients with thyroid disease; reduce initial dose in patients with hypothyroidism.

Concurrent drug therapy issues:

• Benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants: [US Boxed Warning]: Concomitant use of opioids with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants, including alcohol, may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death. Avoid use of promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine in patients taking benzodiazepines, other CNS depressants, or alcohol. Consider prescribing naloxone for emergency treatment of opioid overdose in patients taking benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants concomitantly with opioids.

• Cytochrome P450 interactions: [US Boxed Warning]: The effects of concomitant use or discontinuation of cytochrome P450 (CYP-450) 3A4 inducers, 3A4 inhibitors, or 2D6 inhibitors with codeine are complex. Use of CYP-450 3A4 inducers, 3A4 inhibitors, or 2D6 inhibitors with promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine requires careful consideration of the effects on the parent drug, codeine, and the active metabolite, morphine. Avoid the use of promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine in patients who are taking a CYP-450 3A4 inhibitor, 3A4 inducer, or 2D6 inhibitor.

Special populations:

• CYP2D6 "ultrarapid metabolizers": Use codeine with caution in patients with two or more copies of the variant CYP2D6*2 allele; may have extensive conversion to morphine and thus increased opioid-mediated effects. Avoid the use of codeine in these patients; consider alternative analgesics such as morphine or a nonopioid agent (Crews 2012). The occurrence of this phenotype is seen in 0.5% to 1% of Chinese and Japanese, 0.5% to 1% of Hispanics, 1% to 10% of Caucasians, 3% of African-Americans, and 16% to 28% of North Africans, Ethiopians, and Arabs.

• Cachectic or debilitated patients: Avoid use caution in cachectic or debilitated patients; there is a greater potential for critical respiratory depression, even at therapeutic dosages.

• Elderly: Use with caution in the elderly; may be more sensitive to adverse effects, such as respiratory depression. Use opioids for chronic pain with caution in this age group; monitor closely due to an increased potential for risks, including certain risks such as falls/fracture, cognitive impairment, and constipation. Clearance may also be reduced in older adults (with or without renal impairment) resulting in a narrow therapeutic window and increasing the risk for respiratory depression or overdose (Dowell [CDC 2016]). Consider the use of alternative nonopioid analgesics in these patients.

• Neonates: Neonatal withdrawal syndrome: [US Boxed Warning]: Prolonged use during pregnancy can cause neonatal withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated according to protocols developed by neonatology experts. If opioid use is required for a prolonged period in a pregnant woman, advise the patient of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available. Signs and symptoms include irritability, hyperactivity and abnormal sleep pattern, high-pitched cry, tremor, vomiting, diarrhea, and failure to gain weight. Onset, duration, and severity depend on the drug used, duration of use, maternal dose, and rate of drug elimination by the newborn.

• Pediatric: Respiratory depression may occur even at therapeutic dosages; FDA and AAP recommend against use in pediatric patients <18 years due to risk of adverse effects (AAP 2018; FDA 2018a; FDA 2018b). [US Boxed Warning]: Postmarketing cases of respiratory depression, including fatalities have been reported with use of promethazine in pediatric patients. Children may be particularly sensitive to the additive respiratory depressant effects when promethazine is combined with other respiratory depressants, including codeine. Hallucinations and convulsions have occurred with therapeutic doses and overdoses of promethazine in pediatric patients. In pediatric patients who are acutely ill associated with dehydration, there is an increased susceptibility to dystonias. Avoid use in children who may have Reye syndrome or hepatic disease. Use caution in atopic children. [US Boxed Warning]: Life-threatening respiratory depression and death have occurred in children who received codeine. Most of the reported cases occurred following tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy, and many of the children had evidence of being an ultra-rapid metabolizer of codeine due to a CYP2D6 polymorphism. Promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine is contraindicated in pediatric patients <12 years and in pediatric patients <18 years following tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy. Avoid the use of promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine in pediatric patients 12 to 18 years of age who have other risk factors that may increase their sensitivity to the respiratory depressant effects of codeine. Risk factors include conditions associated with hypoventilation, such as postoperative status, obstructive sleep apnea, obesity, severe pulmonary disease, neuromuscular disease, and concomitant use of other medications that cause respiratory depression. Deaths have also occurred in breastfeeding infants after being exposed to high concentrations of morphine because the mothers were ultra-rapid metabolizers.

Dosage forms related issues:

• Benzyl alcohol and derivatives: Some dosage forms may contain sodium benzoate/benzoic acid; benzoic acid (benzoate) is a metabolite of benzyl alcohol; large amounts of benzyl alcohol (≥99 mg/kg/day) have been associated with a potentially fatal toxicity ("gasping syndrome") in neonates; the "gasping syndrome" consists of metabolic acidosis, respiratory distress, gasping respirations, CNS dysfunction (including convulsions, intracranial hemorrhage), hypotension and cardiovascular collapse (AAP 1997; CDC 1982); some data suggest that benzoate displaces bilirubin from protein binding sites (Ahlfors 2001); avoid or use dosage forms containing benzyl alcohol derivative with caution in neonates. See manufacturer's labeling.

• Propylene glycol: Some dosage forms may contain propylene glycol; large amounts are potentially toxic and have been associated hyperosmolality, lactic acidosis, seizures and respiratory depression; use caution (AAP 1997; Zar 2007). See manufacturer's labeling.

Other warnings/precautions:

• Abrupt discontinuation/withdrawal: Abrupt discontinuation in patients who are physically dependent on opioids has been associated with serious withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled pain, attempts to find other opioids (including illicit), and suicide. Use a collaborative, patient-specific taper schedule that minimizes the risk of withdrawal, considering factors such as current opioid dose, duration of use, type of pain, and physical and psychological factors. Monitor pain control, withdrawal symptoms, mood changes, suicidal ideation, and for use of other substances; provide care as needed. Concurrent use of mixed agonist/antagonist (eg, pentazocine, nalbuphine, butorphanol) or partial agonist (eg, buprenorphine) analgesics may also precipitate withdrawal symptoms and/or reduced analgesic efficacy in patients following prolonged therapy with mu opioid agonists.

• Abuse/misuse/diversion: [US Boxed Warning]: Use exposes patients and other users to the risks of opioid addiction, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death. Reserve promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine for use in adult patients for whom the benefits of cough suppression are expected to outweigh the risks, and in whom an adequate assessment of the etiology of the cough has been made. Assess each patient's risk prior to prescribing promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine, prescribe for the shortest duration that is consistent with individual patient treatment goals, monitor all patients regularly for the development of addiction or abuse, and refill only after reevaluation of the need for continued treatment. Use with caution in patients with a history of drug abuse or acute alcoholism; potential for drug dependency exists. Other factors associated with increased risk for misuse include younger age, concomitant depression (major), and psychotropic medication use. Consider offering naloxone prescriptions in patients with factors associated with an increased risk for overdose, such as history of overdose or substance use disorder, higher opioid dosages (≥50 morphine milligram equivalents/day orally), and concomitant benzodiazepine use (Dowell [CDC 2016]).

• Accidental ingestion: [US Boxed Warning]: Accidental ingestion, especially in children, can result in a fatal overdose of codeine.

• Appropriate use: Underlying cause of cough should be determined prior to prescribing. Use the lowest effective dose for the shortest period of time. Avoid use in acute febrile illness associated with productive cough or in chronic respiratory disease where interference with ability to clear the tracheobronchial tree of secretions would have a deleterious effect on the patient's respiratory function. Dose should not be increased if cough does not respond; re-evaluate within 5 days for possible underlying pathology. If a patient requires a refill, re-evaluate cause of cough and assess need for continued treatment.

• Medication errors: [US Boxed Warning]: Ensure accuracy when prescribing, dispensing, and administering promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine oral solution. Dosing errors can result in accidental overdose and death. Always use an accurate millimeter measuring device when measuring and administering promethazine/phenylephrine/codeine oral solution.

• Naloxone access: Discuss the availability of naloxone with all patients who are prescribed opioid analgesics, as well as their caregivers, and consider prescribing it to patients who are at increased risk of opioid overdose. These include patients who are also taking benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants, have an opioid use disorder (OUD) (current or history of), or have experienced a previous opioid overdose. Additionally, health care providers should consider prescribing naloxone to patients prescribed medications to treat OUD; patients at risk of opioid overdose even if they are not taking an opioid analgesic or medication to treat OUD; and patients taking opioids, including methadone or buprenorphine for OUD, if they have household members, including children, or other close contacts at risk for accidental ingestion or opioid overdose. Inform patients and caregivers on options for obtaining naloxone (eg, by prescription, directly from a pharmacist, a community-based program) as permitted by state dispensing and prescribing guidelines. Educate patients and caregivers on how to recognize respiratory depression, proper administration of naloxone, and getting emergency help.

• Surgery: Opioids decrease bowel motility; monitor for decreased bowel motility in postop patients receiving opioids. Use with caution in the perioperative setting; individualize treatment when transitioning from parenteral to oral analgesics.

Monitoring Parameters

Relief of symptoms; respiratory and mental status; blood pressure; heart rate; bowel function; signs of misuse, abuse, and addiction.

Reproductive Considerations

Refer to individual monographs.

Pregnancy Considerations

Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with this combination. Refer to individual monographs for additional information.

Patient Education

What is this drug used for?

• It is used to relieve coughing.

• It is used to ease allergy signs.

• It is used to treat nose stuffiness.

• It is used to ease cold signs.

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

• Anxiety

• Dry mouth

• Dry nose

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Trouble sleeping

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

• Severe dizziness

• Severe headache

• Passing out

• Vision changes

• Agitation

• Chest pain

• Fast heartbeat

• Infection

• Trouble breathing

• Slow breathing

• Shallow breathing

• Noisy breathing

• Severe fatigue

• Severe constipation

• Unable to pass urine

• Change in amount of urine passed

• Severe loss of strength and energy

• Sensing things that seem real but are not

• Mood changes

• Noise or ringing in the ears

• Seizures

• Bruising

• Bleeding

• Abnormal movements

• Twitching

• Change in balance

• Trouble swallowing

• Trouble speaking

• Yellow skin

• Tremors

• Severe abdominal pain

• Neuroleptic malignant syndrome like fever, muscle cramps or stiffness, dizziness, severe headache, confusion, change in thinking, fast heartbeat, abnormal heartbeat, or sweating a lot.

• Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a limited summary of general information about the medicine’s uses from the patient education leaflet and is not intended to be comprehensive. This limited summary does NOT include all information available about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. For a more detailed summary of information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine, please speak with your healthcare provider and review the entire patient education leaflet.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.