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sufentanil citrate injection, USP Warnings and Precautions


5.1 Addiction, Abuse, and Misuse

Sufentanil Citrate Injection contains sufentanil, a Schedule II controlled substance. As an opioid, Sufentanil 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 Sufentanil 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. Sufentanil Citrate Injection should be administered only by persons specifically trained in the use of anesthetic drugs and the management of the respiratory effects of potent opioids, including respiration and cardiac resuscitation of patients in the age group being treated. Such training must include the establishment and maintenance of a patent airway and assisted ventilation. Adequate facilities should be available for postoperative monitoring and ventilation of patients administered anesthetic doses of Sufentanil 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.

As with other potent opioids, the respiratory depressant effect of Sufentanil 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 epidural anesthetics, can alter respiration by blocking intercostal nerves [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.2)]. Sufentanil Citrate Injection can also alter respiration. Therefore, when Sufentanil 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 Sufentanil 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 Sufentanil Citrate Injection and when Sufentanil Citrate Injection is given concomitantly with other drugs that depress respiration. To reduce the risk of respiratory depression, proper dosing and titration of Sufentanil 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 Sufentanil 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 sufentanil and prolong opioid adverse reactions, which may exacerbate fatal respiratory depression [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)], particularly when an inhibitor is added after a stable dose of Sufentanil Citrate Injection is achieved. Similarly, discontinuation of a CYP3A4 inducer, such as rifampin, carbamazepine, and phenytoin, in Sufentanil Citrate Injection-treated patients may increase sufentanil plasma concentrations and prolong opioid adverse reactions. When using Sufentanil Citrate Injection with CYP3A4 inhibitors or discontinuing CYP3A4 inducers in Sufentanil Citrate Injection-treated patients, monitor patients closely at frequent intervals and consider dosage reduction of Sufentanil Citrate Injection [see Dosage and Administration (2.1), Drug Interactions (7)].

Concomitant use of Sufentanil Citrate Injection with CYP3A4 inducers or discontinuation of an CYP3A4 inhibitor could result in lower than expected sufentanil plasma concentrations, and decrease efficacy. When using Sufentanil Citrate Injection with CYP3A4 inducers or discontinuing CYP3A4 inhibitors, monitor patients closely at frequent intervals and consider increasing the Sufentanil Citrate Injection dosage [see Dosage and Administration (2.1), Drug Interactions (7)].

5.4 Risks of Muscle Rigidity and Skeletal Muscle Movement

Intravenous administration or unintentional intravascular injection during epidural administration of Sufentanil 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. Administration of sufentanil may produce muscular rigidity with a more rapid onset of action than that seen with fentanyl. 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 Sufentanil Citrate Injection; these reported movements have, on rare occasions, been strong enough to pose patient management problems.

The incidence of skeletal muscle rigidity 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 sufentanil at dosages of up to 8 mcg/kg, 2) administration of a full paralyzing dose of a neuromuscular blocking agent following loss of consciousness when sufentanil is used in anesthetic dosages (above 8 mcg/kg) titrated by slow intravenous infusion, or, 3) simultaneous administration of sufentanil and a full paralyzing dose of a neuromuscular blocking agent when sufentanil is used in rapidly administered anesthetic dosages (above 8 mcg/kg).

The neuromuscular blocking agents used should be compatible with the patient's cardiovascular status. The hemodynamic effects and degree of skeletal muscle relaxation required should be considered in the selection of a neuromuscular blocking agent. High doses of pancuronium may produce increases in heart rate during sufentanil-oxygen anesthesia. Bradycardia and hypotension have been reported with other muscle relaxants during sufentanil-oxygen anesthesia; this effect may be more pronounced in the presence of calcium channel and/or beta-blockers. Muscle relaxants with no clinically significant effect on heart rate (at recommended doses) would not counteract the vagotonic effect of sufentanil, therefore a lower heart rate would be expected. Rare reports of bradycardia associated with the concomitant use of succinylcholine and sufentanil have been reported.

5.5 Risks from Concomitant Use with Benzodiazepines or Other CNS Depressants

When benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants are used with Sufentanil 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 Sufentanil Citrate Injection are employed, even relatively small dosages of diazepam may cause cardiovascular depression.

When Sufentanil 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 Sufentanil 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 Sufentanil 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)]

5.6 Severe Cardiovascular Depression

Sufentanil 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, Sufentanil 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 Sufentanil 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 Sufentanil Citrate Injection 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, trazodone, 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 Sufentanil Citrate Injection if serotonin syndrome is suspected.

5.8 Risks due to Improper Epidural Injection

Proper placement of the needle or catheter in the epidural space should be verified before sufentanil is injected to assure that unintentional intravascular or intrathecal administration does not occur. Unintentional intravascular injection of sufentanil could result in a potentially serious overdose, including acute truncal muscular rigidity and apnea. Unintentional intrathecal injection of the full sufentanil/bupivacaine epidural doses and volume could produce effects of high spinal anesthesia including prolonged paralysis and delayed recovery. If analgesia is inadequate, the placement and integrity of the catheter should be verified prior to the administration of any additional epidural medications. Sufentanil should be administered epidurally by slow injection.

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), Sufentanil 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

Sufentanil 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

Sufentanil 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 Sufentanil Citrate Injection therapy.

5.12 Risks of Driving and Operating Machinery

Sufentanil 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 Sufentanil Citrate Injection administration.

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