5 WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS
5.1 Addiction, Abuse, and Misuse
Fentanyl Citrate Injection contains fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance. As an opioid, Fentanyl Citrate Injection exposes users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse [see Drug Abuse and Dependence (9)].
Opioids are sought by drug abusers and people with addiction disorders and are subject to criminal diversion. Consider these risks when handling Fentanyl Citrate Injection. Strategies to reduce these risks include proper product storage and control practices for a C-II drug. Contact local state professional licensing board or state controlled substances authority for information on how to prevent and detect abuse or diversion of this product.
5.2 Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression
Serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression has been reported with the use of opioids, even when used as recommended. Respiratory depression, if not immediately recognized and treated, may lead to respiratory arrest and death. Adequate facilities should be available for postoperative monitoring and ventilation of patients administered anesthetic doses of Fentanyl Citrate Injection. It is essential that these facilities be fully equipped to handle all degrees of respiratory depression. Management of respiratory depression may include close observation, supportive measures, and use of opioid antagonists, depending on the patient's clinical status [see Overdosage (10)]. Carbon dioxide (CO2) retention from opioid-induced respiratory depression can exacerbate the sedating effects of opioids.
To reduce the risk of respiratory depression, proper dosing and titration of Fentanyl Citrate Injection are essential. As with other potent opioids, the respiratory depressant effect of Fentanyl Citrate Injection may persist longer than the measured analgesic effect. The total dose of all opioid agonists administered should be considered by the practitioner before ordering opioid analgesics during recovery from anesthesia.
Certain forms of conduction anesthesia, such as spinal anesthesia and some peridural anesthetics, can alter respiration by blocking intercostal nerves through other mechanisms [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.2)]. Fentanyl Citrate Injection can also alter respiration. Therefore, when Fentanyl Citrate Injection is used to supplement these forms of anesthesia, the anesthetist should be familiar with the physiological alterations involved, and be prepared to manage them in the patients selected for these forms of anesthesia.
Patients with significant chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cor pulmonale, and those with a substantially decreased respiratory reserve, hypoxia, hypercapnia, or pre-existing respiratory depression are at increased risk of decreased respiratory drive including apnea, even at recommended dosages of Fentanyl Citrate Injection. Elderly, cachectic, or debilitated patients may have altered pharmacokinetics or altered clearance compared to younger, healthier patients resulting in greater risk for respiratory depression.
Monitor such patients closely including vital signs, particularly when initiating and titrating Fentanyl Citrate Injection and when Fentanyl Citrate Injection is given concomitantly with other drugs that depress respiration. To reduce the risk of respiratory depression, proper dosing and titration of Fentanyl Citrate Injection are essential [see Dosage and Administration (2.1)].
Opioids can cause sleep-related breathing disorders including central sleep apnea (CSA) and sleep-related hypoxemia. Opioid use increases the risk of CSA in a dose-dependent fashion. In patients who present with CSA, consider decreasing the opioid dosage using best practices for opioid taper [see Dosage and Administration (2.1)].
5.3 Risks of Concomitant Use or Discontinuation of Cytochrome P450 3A4 Inhibitors and Inducers
Concomitant use of Fentanyl Citrate Injection with a CYP3A4 inhibitor, such as macrolide antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin), azole-antifungal agents (e.g., ketoconazole), and protease inhibitors (e.g., ritonavir), may increase plasma concentrations of fentanyl and prolong opioid adverse reactions, which may exacerbate respiratory depression [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)], particularly when an inhibitor is added after a stable dose of Fentanyl Citrate Injection is achieved. Similarly, discontinuation of a CYP3A4 inducer, such as rifampin, carbamazepine, and phenytoin, in Fentanyl Citrate Injection-treated patients may increase fentanyl plasma concentrations and prolong opioid adverse reactions. When using Fentanyl Citrate Injection with CYP3A4 inhibitors or discontinuing CYP3A4 inducers in Fentanyl Citrate Injection-treated patients, monitor patients closely at frequent intervals and consider dosage reduction of Fentanyl Citrate Injection [see Dosage and Administration (2.1), Drug Interactions (7)].
Concomitant use of Fentanyl Citrate Injection with CYP3A4 inducers or discontinuation of an CYP3A4 inhibitor could result in lower than expected fentanyl plasma concentrations and, decrease efficacy. When using Fentanyl Citrate Injection with CYP3A4 inducers or discontinuing CYP3A4 inhibitors, monitor patients closely at frequent intervals and consider increasing the Fentanyl Citrate Injection dosage [see Dosage and Administration (2.1), Drug Interactions (7)].
5.4 Risks From Concomitant Use With Benzodiazepines Or Other CNS Depressants
When benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants are used with Fentanyl Citrate Injection, pulmonary arterial pressure may be decreased. This fact should be considered by those who conduct diagnostic and surgical procedures where interpretation of pulmonary arterial pressure measurements might determine final management of the patient. When high dose or anesthetic dosages of Fentanyl Citrate Injection are employed, even relatively small dosages of diazepam may cause cardiovascular depression.
When Fentanyl Citrate Injection is used with CNS depressants, hypotension can occur. If it occurs, consider the possibility of hypovolemia and manage with appropriate parenteral fluid therapy. When operative conditions permit, consider repositioning the patient to improve venous return to the heart. Exercise care in moving and repositioning of patients because of the possibility of orthostatic hypotension. If volume expansion with fluids plus other countermeasures do not correct hypotension, consider administration of pressor agents other than epinephrine. Epinephrine may paradoxically decrease blood pressure in patients treated with a neuroleptic that blocks alpha adrenergic activity.
Profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death may result from the concomitant use of Fentanyl Citrate Injection with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants (e.g., nonbenzodiazepine sedatives/hypnotics, anxiolytics, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, general anesthetics, antipsychotics, other opioids, alcohol).
If the decision is made to manage postoperative pain with Fentanyl Citrate Injection concomitantly with a benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant, start dosing with the lowest effective dosage and titrate based on clinical response. Follow patients closely for signs and symptoms of respiratory depression, sedation, and hypotension. Fluids or other measures to counter hypotension should be available [see Drug Interactions (7)].
5.5 Risks of Muscle Rigidity and Skeletal Muscle Movement
Fentanyl Citrate Injection may cause muscle rigidity, particularly involving the muscles of respiration. The incidence and severity of muscle rigidity is dose related. These effects are related to the dose and speed of injection. Skeletal muscle rigidity also has been reported to occur or recur infrequently in the extended postoperative period usually following high dose administration. In addition, skeletal muscle movements of various groups in the extremities, neck, and external eye have been reported during induction of anesthesia with Fentanyl Citrate Injection; these reported movements have, on rare occasions, been strong enough to pose patient management problems.
These effects are related to the dose and speed of injection and its incidence can be reduced by: 1) administration of up to 1/4 of the full paralyzing dose of a non-depolarizing neuromuscular blocking agent just prior to administration of Fentanyl Citrate Injection; 2) administration of a full paralyzing dose of a neuromuscular blocking agent following loss of eyelash reflex when Fentanyl Citrate Injection is used in anesthetic doses titrated by slow intravenous infusion; or, 3) simultaneous administration of Fentanyl Citrate Injection and a full paralyzing dose of a neuromuscular blocking agent when Fentanyl Citrate Injection is used in rapidly administered anesthetic dosages. The neuromuscular blocking agent used should be compatible with the patient's cardiovascular status.
5.6 Severe Cardiovascular Depression
Fentanyl Citrate Injection may cause severe bradycardia, severe hypotension including orthostatic hypotension, and syncope. There is increased risk in patients whose ability to maintain blood pressure has already been compromised by a reduced blood volume or concurrent administration of certain CNS depressant drugs (e.g., phenothiazines or general anesthetics) [see Drug Interactions (7)]. In patients with circulatory shock, Fentanyl Citrate Injection may cause vasodilation that can further reduce cardiac output and blood pressure. Monitor these patients for signs of hypotension after initiating or titrating the dosage of Fentanyl Citrate Injection.
5.7 Serotonin Syndrome with Concomitant Use of Serotonergic Drugs
Cases of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition, have been reported during concomitant use of fentanyl with serotonergic drugs. Serotonergic drugs include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), triptans, 5-HT3 receptor antagonists, drugs that affect the serotonergic neurotransmitter system (e.g., mirtazapine, trazadone, tramadol), certain muscle relaxants (i.e., cyclobenzaprine, metaxalone) and drugs that impair metabolism of serotonin (including MAO inhibitors, both those intended to treat psychiatric disorders and also others, such as linezolid and intravenous methylene blue) [see Drug Interactions (7)]. This may occur within the recommended dosage range.
Serotonin syndrome symptoms may include mental status changes (e.g., agitation, hallucinations, coma), autonomic instability (e.g., tachycardia, labile blood pressure, hyperthermia), neuromuscular aberrations (e.g., hyperreflexia, incoordination, rigidity), and/or gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea). The onset of symptoms generally occurs within several hours to a few days of concomitant use, but may occur later than that. Discontinue Fentanyl Citrate Injection if serotonin syndrome is suspected.
5.8 Adrenal Insufficiency
Cases of adrenal insufficiency have been reported with opioid use, more often following greater than one month of use. Presentation of adrenal insufficiency may include non-specific symptoms and signs including nausea, vomiting, anorexia, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and low blood pressure. If adrenal insufficiency is suspected, confirm the diagnosis with diagnostic testing as soon as possible. If adrenal insufficiency is diagnosed, treat with physiologic replacement doses of corticosteroids. Wean the patient off of the opioid to allow adrenal function to recover and continue corticosteroid treatment until adrenal function recovers. Other opioids may be tried as some cases reported use of a different opioid without recurrence of adrenal insufficiency. The information available does not identify any particular opioids as being more likely to be associated with adrenal insufficiency.
5.9 Risks of Use in Patients with Increased Intracranial Pressure, Brain Tumors, or Head Injury
In patients who may be susceptible to the intracranial effects of CO2 retention (e.g., those with evidence of increased intracranial pressure or brain tumors), Fentanyl Citrate Injection may reduce respiratory drive, and the resultant CO2 retention can further increase intracranial pressure. Monitor such patients for signs of increasing intracranial pressure.
5.10 Risks of Use in Patients with Gastrointestinal Conditions
Fentanyl may cause spasm of the sphincter of Oddi. Opioids may cause increases in serum amylase. Monitor patients with biliary tract disease, including acute pancreatitis for worsening symptoms.
5.11 Increased Risk of Seizures in Patients with Seizure Disorders
Fentanyl may increase the frequency of seizures in patients with seizure disorders, and may increase the risk of seizures occurring in other clinical settings associated with seizures. Monitor patients with a history of seizure disorders for worsened seizure control during Fentanyl Citrate Injection therapy.
5.12 Risks of Driving and Operating Machinery
Fentanyl Citrate Injection may impair the mental or physical abilities needed to perform potentially hazardous activities such as driving a car or operating machinery. Warn patients not to drive or operate dangerous machinery after Fentanyl Citrate Injection administration.
5.13 Risks due to Interaction with Neuroleptic Agents
Many neuroleptic agents have been associated with QT prolongation, torsades de pointes, and cardiac arrest. Administer neuroleptic agents with extreme caution in the presence of risk factors for development of prolonged QT syndrome and torsades de pointes, such as: 1) clinically significant bradycardia (less than 50 bpm), 2) any clinically significant cardiac disease, including baseline prolonged QT interval, 3) treatment with Class I and Class III antiarrhythmics, 4) treatment with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI's), 5) concomitant treatment with other drug products known to prolong the QT interval and 6) electrolyte imbalance, in particular hypokalemia and hypomagnesemia, or concomitant treatment with drugs (e.g. diuretics) that may cause electrolyte imbalance.
Elevated blood pressure, with and without pre-existing hypertension, has been reported following administration of Fentanyl Citrate Injection combined with a neuroleptic. This might be due to unexplained alterations in sympathetic activity following large doses; however, it is also frequently attributed to anesthetic and surgical stimulation during light anesthesia.
ECG monitoring is indicated when a neuroleptic agent is used in conjunction with Fentanyl Citrate Injection as an anesthetic premedication, for the induction of anesthesia, or as an adjunct in the maintenance of general or regional anesthesia.
When Fentanyl Citrate Injection is used with a neuroleptic and an EEG is used for postoperative monitoring, the EEG pattern may return to normal slowly.