Prolonged use of opioid analgesics during pregnancy may cause neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. Available data with DEMEROL Injection are insufficient to inform a drug-associated risk for major birth defects and miscarriage. Formal animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with meperidine. Neural tube defects (exencephaly and cranioschisis) have been reported in hamsters administered a single bolus dose of meperidine during a critical period of organogenesis at 0.85 and 1.5 times the total human daily dose of 1200 mg. [see Data ]
Adverse outcomes in pregnancy can occur regardless of the health of the mother or the use of medications. In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2–4% and 15–20%, respectively.
Fetal/Neonatal Adverse Reactions
Prolonged use of opioid analgesics during pregnancy for medical or nonmedical purposes can result in physical dependence in the neonate and neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome shortly after birth.
Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome presents as irritability, hyperactivity and abnormal sleep pattern, high pitched cry, tremor, vomiting, diarrhea, and failure to gain weight. The onset, duration, and severity of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome vary based on the specific opioid used, duration of use, timing and amount of last maternal use, and rate of elimination of the drug by the newborn. Observe newborns for symptoms of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and manage accordingly [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)].
Labor or Delivery
Opioids cross the placenta and may produce respiratory depression and psycho-physiologic effects in neonates. An opioid antagonist, such as naloxone, must be available for reversal of opioid-induced respiratory depression in the neonate. DEMEROL Injection is not recommended for use in pregnant women during or immediately prior to labor, when other analgesic techniques are more appropriate. Opioid analgesics, including DEMEROL Injection, can prolong labor through actions which temporarily reduce the strength, duration, and frequency of uterine contractions. However, this effect is not consistent and may be offset by an increased rate of cervical dilation, which tends to shorten labor. Monitor neonates exposed to opioid analgesics during labor for signs of excess sedation and respiratory depression.
Formal reproductive and developmental toxicology studies for meperidine have not been completed.
In a published study, neural tube defects (exencephaly and cranioschisis) were noted following subcutaneous administration of meperidine hydrochloride (127 and 218 mg/kg, respectively) on Gestation Day 8 to pregnant hamsters (0.85 and 1.5 times the total daily dose of 1200 mg/day based on body surface area). The findings cannot be clearly attributed to maternal toxicity.
Meperidine appears in the milk of nursing mothers receiving the drug. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for DEMEROL Injection and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed infant from DEMEROL Injection or from the underlying maternal condition.
Infants exposed to DEMEROL Injection through breast milk should be monitored for excess sedation and respiratory depression. Withdrawal symptoms can occur in breastfed infants when maternal administration of an opioid analgesic is stopped, or when breast-feeding is stopped.
Chronic use of opioids may cause reduced fertility in females and males of reproductive potential. It is not known whether these effects on fertility are reversible [see Adverse Reactions (6), Clinical Pharmacology (12.2), Nonclinical Pharmacology (13.1)].
The safety and efficacy of DEMEROL Injection in patients less than 18 years of age have not been established.
The safety and effectiveness of meperidine in pediatric patients has not been established. Literature reports indicate that meperidine has a slower elimination rate in neonates and young infants compared to older children and adults. Neonates and young infants may also be more susceptible to the effects, especially the respiratory depressant effects. If meperidine use is contemplated in neonates or young infants, any potential benefits of the drug need to be weighed against the relative risk of the patient.
Elderly patients (aged 65 years or older) may have increased sensitivity to meperidine. In general, use caution when selecting a dosage for an elderly patient, 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.
Respiratory depression is the chief risk for elderly patients treated with opioids, and has occurred after large initial doses were administered to patients who were not opioid-tolerant or when opioids were co-administered with other agents that depress respiration. Titrate the dosage of DEMEROL Injection slowly in geriatric patients and monitor closely for signs of central nervous system and respiratory depression [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)].
Meperidine is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of adverse reactions to this drug may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection, and it may be useful to monitor renal function.
Accumulation of meperidine and/or its active metabolite, normeperidine, can also occur in patients with hepatic impairment. Elevated serum levels have been reported to cause central nervous system excitatory effects. Meperidine should therefore be used with caution in patients with hepatic impairment. Titrate the dosage of DEMEROL Injection slowly in patients with hepatic impairment and monitor closely for signs of central nervous system and respiratory depression.
Accumulation of meperidine and/or its active metabolite, normeperidine, can occur in patients with renal impairment. Meperidine should therefore be used with caution in patients with renal impairment. Titrate the dosage of DEMEROL Injection slowly in patients with renal impairment and monitor closely for signs of central nervous system and respiratory depression.
DEMEROL Injection contains meperidine, a Schedule II controlled substance.
DEMEROL Injection contains meperidine, a substance with a high potential for abuse similar to other opioids including fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and tapentadol. DEMEROL Injection can be abused and is subject to misuse, addiction, and criminal diversion [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].
All patients treated with opioids require careful monitoring for signs of abuse and addiction, since use of opioid analgesic products carries the risk of addiction even under appropriate medical use.
Prescription drug abuse is the intentional non-therapeutic use of a prescription drug, even once, for its rewarding psychological or physiological effects.
Drug addiction is a cluster of behavioral, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated substance use and includes a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal.
“Drug-seeking” behavior is very common in persons with substance use disorders. Drug-seeking tactics include emergency calls or visits near the end of office hours, refusal to undergo appropriate examination, testing, or referral, repeated “loss” of prescriptions, tampering with prescriptions, and reluctance to provide prior medical records or contact information for other treating health care provider(s). “Doctor shopping” (visiting multiple prescribers to obtain additional prescriptions) is common among drug abusers and people suffering from untreated addiction. Preoccupation with achieving adequate pain relief can be appropriate behavior in a patient with poor pain control.
Abuse and addiction are separate and distinct from physical dependence and tolerance. Health care providers should be aware that addiction may not be accompanied by concurrent tolerance and symptoms of physical dependence in all addicts. In addition, abuse of opioids can occur in the absence of true addiction.
DEMEROL Injection, like other opioids, can be diverted for non-medical use into illicit channels of distribution. Careful record-keeping of prescribing information, including quantity, frequency, and renewal requests, as required by state and federal law, is strongly advised.
Proper assessment of the patient, proper prescribing practices, periodic re-evaluation of therapy, and proper dispensing and storage are appropriate measures that help to limit abuse of opioid drugs.
Risks Specific to Abuse of DEMEROL Injection
Abuse of DEMEROL Injection poses a risk of overdose and death. The risk is increased with concurrent abuse of DEMEROL Injection with alcohol and other central nervous system depressants.
Parenteral drug abuse is commonly associated with transmission of infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.
Both tolerance and physical dependence can develop during chronic opioid therapy. Tolerance is the need for increasing doses of opioids to maintain a defined effect such as analgesia (in the absence of disease progression or other external factors). Tolerance may occur to both the desired and undesired effects of drugs, and may develop at different rates for different effects.
Physical dependence results in withdrawal symptoms after abrupt discontinuation or a significant dosage reduction of a drug. Withdrawal also may be precipitated through the administration of drugs with opioid antagonist activity (e.g., naloxone, nalmefene), mixed agonist/antagonist analgesics (e.g., pentazocine, butorphanol, nalbuphine), or partial agonists (e.g., buprenorphine). Physical dependence may not occur to a clinically significant degree until after several days to weeks of continued opioid usage.
DEMEROL Injection should not be abruptly discontinued [see Dosage and Administration (2.4)]. If DEMEROL Injection is abruptly discontinued in a physically-dependent patient, a withdrawal syndrome may occur. Some or all of the following can characterize this syndrome: restlessness, lacrimation, rhinorrhea, yawning, perspiration, chills, myalgia, and mydriasis. Other signs and symptoms also may develop, including: irritability, anxiety, backache, joint pain, weakness, abdominal cramps, insomnia, nausea, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, or increased blood pressure, respiratory rate, or heart rate.
Infants born to mothers physically dependent on opioids will also be physically dependent and may exhibit respiratory difficulties and withdrawal signs [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1)].
Acute overdose with DEMEROL Injection can be manifested by respiratory depression, somnolence progressing to stupor or coma, skeletal muscle flaccidity, cold and clammy skin, constricted pupils, and, in some cases, pulmonary edema, bradycardia, hypotension, partial or complete airway obstruction, atypical snoring, and death. Marked mydriasis rather than miosis may be seen with hypoxia in overdose situations [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.2)]. In severe overdose, particularly by the intravenous route, apnea, circulatory collapse, cardiac arrest, and death may occur.
Accumulation of normeperidine as in chronic use or possibly following introduction of a concomitant CYP3A4 inducer presents as excitatory syndrome including hallucinations, tremors, muscle twitches, dilated pupils, hyperactive reflexes, and convulsions.
Treatment of Overdose
In case of overdose, priorities are the reestablishment of a patent and protected airway and institution of assisted or controlled ventilation, if needed. Employ other supportive measures (including oxygen and vasopressors) in the management of circulatory shock and pulmonary edema as indicated. Cardiac arrest or arrhythmias will require advanced life-support techniques.
The opioid antagonists, naloxone or nalmefene, are specific antidotes to respiratory depression resulting from opioid overdose. For clinically significant respiratory or circulatory depression secondary to meperidine overdose, administer an opioid antagonist. Opioid antagonists should not be administered in the absence of clinically significant respiratory or circulatory depression secondary to meperidine overdose.
Because the duration of opioid reversal is expected to be less than the duration of action of meperidine in DEMEROL Injection, carefully monitor the patient until spontaneous respiration is reliably re-established. If the response to an opioid antagonist is suboptimal or only brief in nature, administer additional antagonist as directed by the product’s prescribing information.
In an individual physically dependent on opioids, administration of the recommended usual dosage of the antagonist will precipitate an acute withdrawal syndrome. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms experienced will depend on the degree of physical dependence and the dose of the antagonist administered. If a decision is made to treat serious respiratory depression in the physically dependent patient, administration of the antagonist should be begun with care and by titration with smaller than usual doses of the antagonist.
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