Naloxone hydrochloride injection should be administered cautiously to persons including newborns of mothers who are known or suspected to be physically dependent on opioids. In such cases, an abrupt and complete reversal of opioid effects may precipitate an acute withdrawal syndrome.
The signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal in a patient physically dependent on opioids may include, but are not limited to, the following: body aches, diarrhea, tachycardia, fever, runny nose, sneezing, piloerection, sweating, yawning, nausea or vomiting, nervousness, restlessness or irritability, shivering or trembling, abdominal cramps, weakness, and increased blood pressure. In the neonate, opioid withdrawal may also include: convulsions, excessive crying, and hyperactive reflexes.
The patient who has satisfactorily responded to naloxone should be kept under continued surveillance and repeated doses of naloxone should be administered, as necessary, since the duration of action of some opioids may exceed that of naloxone.
Respiratory Depression Due to Other Drugs
Naloxone is not effective against respiratory depression due to non-opioid drugs and in the management of acute toxicity caused by levopropoxyphene. Reversal of respiratory depression by partial agonists or mixed agonist/antagonists, such as buprenorphine and pentazocine, may be incomplete or require higher doses of naloxone. If an incomplete response occurs, respirations should be mechanically assisted as clinically indicated.
In addition to naloxone, other resuscitative measures such as maintenance of a free airway, artificial ventilation, cardiac massage, and vasopressor agents should be available and employed when necessary to counteract acute opioid poisoning.
Abrupt postoperative reversal of opioid depression may result in nausea, vomiting, sweating, tremulousness, tachycardia, increased blood pressure, seizures, ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation, pulmonary edema, and cardiac arrest which may result in death. Excessive doses of naloxone in postoperative patients may result in significant reversal of analgesia and may cause agitation (see PRECAUTIONS and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION: USAGE IN ADULTS, Postoperative Opioid Depression).
Several instances of hypotension, hypertension, ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation, pulmonary edema, and cardiac arrest have been reported in postoperative patients. Death, coma, and encephalopathy have been reported as sequelae of these events. These have occurred in patients most of whom had pre-existing cardiovascular disorders or received other drugs which may have similar adverse cardiovascular effects. Although a direct cause and effect relationship has not been established, naloxone should be used with caution in patients with pre-existing cardiac disease or patients who have received medications with potential adverse cardiovascular effects such as hypotension, ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation, and pulmonary edema. It has been suggested that the pathogenesis of pulmonary edema associated with the use of naloxone is similar to neurogenic pulmonary edema, i.e., a centrally mediated massive catacholamine response leading to a dramatic shift of blood volume into the pulmonary vascular bed resulting in increased hydrostatic pressures.
Large doses of naloxone are required to antagonize buprenorphine since the latter has a long duration of action due to its slow rate of binding and subsequent slow dissociation from the opioid receptor. Buprenorphine antagonism is characterized by a gradual onset of the reversal effects and a decreased duration of action of the normally prolonged respiratory depression. The barbiturate methohexital appears to block the acute onset of withdrawal symptoms induced by naloxone in opiate addicts.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Studies in animals to assess the carcinogenic potential of naloxone have not been conducted. Naloxone was weakly positive in the Ames mutagenicity and in the in vitro human lymphocyte chromosome aberration test but was negative in the in vitro Chinese hamster V79 cell HGPRT mutagenicity assay and in the in vivo rat bone marrow chromosome aberration study. Reproduction studies conducted in mice and rats at doses 4-times and 8-times, respectively, the dose of a 50 kg human given 10 mg/day (when based on surface area or mg/m2), demonstrated no embryotoxic or teratogenic effects due to naloxone.
Use in Pregnancy: Teratogenic Effects:
Teratology studies conducted in mice and rats at doses 4-times and 8-times, respectively, the dose of a 50 kg human given 10 mg/day (when based on surface area or mg/m2), demonstrated no embryotoxic or teratogenic effects due to naloxone. There are, however, no adequate and well controlled studies in pregnant women. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, naloxone hydrochloride should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.
Non-teratogenic effects: Risk-benefit must be considered before naloxone is administered to a pregnant woman who is known or suspected to be opioid-dependent since maternal dependence may often be accompanied by fetal dependence. Naloxone crosses the placenta, and may precipitate withdrawal in the fetus as well as in the mother. Patients with mild to moderate hypertension who receive naloxone during labor should be carefully monitored as severe hypertension may occur.
Use in Labor and Delivery
It is not known if naloxone hydrochloride injection affects the duration of labor and/or delivery. However, published reports indicated that the administration of naloxone during labor did not adversely affect maternal or neonatal status.
It is not known whether naloxone is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when naloxone hydrochloride is administered to a nursing woman.
Naloxone hydrochloride injection may be administered intravenously, intramuscularly, or subcutaneously in children and neonates to reverse the effects of opiates. The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, does not endorse subcutaneous or intramuscular administration in opiate intoxication since absorption may be erratic or delayed. Although the opiate-intoxicated child responds dramatically to naloxone hydrochloride injection, he/she must be carefully monitored for at least 24 hours as a relapse may occur as naloxone is metabolized.
When naloxone hydrochloride injection is given to the mother shortly before delivery, the duration of its effects lasts only for the first two hours of neonatal life. It is preferable to administer naloxone hydrochloride injection directly to the neonate if needed after delivery. Naloxone has no apparent benefit as an additional method of resuscitation in the newly born infant with intrauterine asphyxia, which is not related to opioid use.
Usage in Pediatric Patients and Neonates for Septic Shock: The safety and effectiveness of naloxone hydrochloride injection in the treatment of hypotension in pediatric patients and neonates with septic shock have not been established. One study of two neonates in septic shock reported a positive pressor response; however, one patient subsequently died after intractable seizures.
Clinical studies of naloxone hydrochloride injection did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.
The safety and effectiveness of naloxone hydrochloride injection in patients with renal insufficiency/failure have not been established in well-controlled clinical trials. Caution should be exercised when naloxone is administered to this patient population.
The safety and effectiveness of naloxone hydrochloride injection in patients with liver disease have not been established in well-controlled clinical trials. Caution should be exercised when naloxone is administered to patients with liver disease.