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Medically reviewed by Oliinyk Elizabeth Ivanovna, PharmD. Last updated on 2020-04-03
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Alkafen is indicated for the symptomatic treatment of moderate to severe pain.
ULTRACET tablets are indicated for the management of acute pain severe enough to require an opioid analgesic and for which alternative treatments are inadequate.
Limitations Of Use
ULTRACET tablets are indicated for short-term use of five days or less.
Because of the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse with opioids, even at recommended doses , reserve ULTRACET for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options [e.g., non-opioid analgesics]:
- Have not been tolerated, or are not expected to be tolerated,
- Have not provided adequate analgesia, or are not expected to provide adequate analgesia.
The use of Alkafen should be restricted to patients whose moderate to severe pain is considered to require a combination of tramadol hydrochloride and paracetamol.
The dose should be adjusted to intensity of pain and the sensitivity of the individual patient. The lowest effective dose for analgesia should generally be selected. The total dose of 8 tablets (equivalent to 300 mg tramadol hydrochloride and 2600 mg paracetamol) per day should not be exceeded. The dosing interval should not be less than six hours.
Adults and adolescents (12 years and older)
An initial dose of two effervescent tablets of Alkafen (equivalent to 75 mg tramadol hydrochloride and 650 mg paracetamol) is recommended. Additional doses can be taken as needed, not exceeding 8 effervescent tablets (equivalent to 300 mg tramadol hydrochloride and 2600 mg paracetamol) per day.
The dosing interval should not be less than six hours.If repeated use or long term treatment with Alkafen is required as a result of the nature and severity of the illness, then careful, regular monitoring should take place (with breaks in the treatment, where possible), to assess whether continuation of the treatment is necessary.
The effective and safe use of Alkafen has not been established in children below the age of 12 years. Treatment is therefore not recommended in this population.
A dose adjustment is not usually necessary in patients up to 75 years without clinically manifest hepatic or renal insufficiency. In elderly patients over 75 years elimination may be prolonged. Therefore, if necessary the dosage interval is to be extended according to the patient's requirements.
In patients with renal insufficiency the elimination of tramadol is delayed. In these patients prolongation of the dosage intervals should be carefully considered according to the patient's requirements.
In patients with hepatic impairment the elimination of tramadol is delayed. In these patients prolongation of the dosage intervals should be carefully considered according to the patient's requirements. Because of the presence of paracetamol Alkafen effervescent should not be used in patients with severe hepatic impairment.
Method of administration
Effervescent tablets should be taken dissolved in a glass of drinking water.
Important Dosage And Administration Instructions
- ULTRACET is not approved for use for more than 5 days.
- Do not exceed the recommended dose of ULTRACET. Do not co-administer ULTRACET with other tramadol or acetaminophen containing products.
- Use the lowest effective dosage for the shortest duration consistent with individual patient treatment goals.
- Initiate the dosing regimen for each patient individually, taking into account the patient's severity of pain, patient response, prior analgesic treatment experience, and risk factors for addiction, abuse, and misuse.
- Monitor patients closely for respiratory depression, especially within the first 24-72 hours of initiating therapy and following dosage increases with ULTRACET and adjust the dosage accordingly.
The initial dose of ULTRACET is 2 tablets every 4 to 6 hours as needed for pain relief up to a maximum of 8 tablets per day.
Dosage Modification In Patients With Renal Impairment
In patients with creatinine clearances of less than 30 mL/min, do not exceed 2 tablets every 12 hours.
Discontinuation Of ULTRACET
ULTRACET is not approved for use greater than 5 days. In circumstances where physical dependence with ULTRACET is possible, use a gradual downward taper and do not stop use of ULTRACET abruptly..
- acute intoxication with alcohol, hypnotic medicinal products, centrally-acting analgesics, opioids or psychotropic medicinal products,
- Alkafen should not be administered to patients who are receiving monoamine oxidase inhibitors or within two weeks of their withdrawal ,
- severe hepatic impairment,
- epilepsy not controlled by treatment.
ULTRACET is contraindicated in patients with:
- Significant respiratory depression.
- Acute or severe bronchial asthma in an unmonitored setting or in the absence of resuscitative equipment.
- Patients with known or suspected gastrointestinal obstruction, including paralytic ileus.
- Previous hypersensitivity to tramadol hydrochloride, acetaminophen, any other component of this product, or opioids.
- Concurrent use of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or use within the last 14 days
- In adults and adolescents 12 years and older. The maximum dose of 8 tablets of Alkafen should not be exceeded. In order to avoid inadvertent overdose, patients should be advised not to exceed the recommended dose and not to use any other paracetamol (including over the counter) or tramadol hydrochloride containing products concurrently without the advice of a physician.
- In severe renal insufficiency (creatinine clearance <10 ml/mm), Alkafen is not recommended.
- In patients with severe hepatic impairment Alkafen should not be used. The hazards of paracetamol overdose are greater in patients with non-cirrhotic alcoholic liver disease. In moderate cases prolongation of dosage interval should be carefully considered.
- In severe respiratory insufficiency, Alkafen is not recommended.
- Tramadol hydrochloride is not suitable as a substitute in opioid-dependent patients. Although it is an opioid agonist, tramadol hydrochloride cannot suppress morphine withdrawal symptoms.
- Convulsions have been reported in tramadol hydrochloride-treated patients susceptible to seizures or taking other medications that lower the seizure threshold, especially selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, antipsychotics, centrally acting analgesics or local anaesthesia. Epileptic patients controlled by a treatment or patients susceptible to seizures should be treated with Alkafen only if there are compelling circumstances. Convulsions have been reported in patients receiving tramadol hydrochloride at the recommended dose levels. The risk may be increased when doses of tramadol hydrochloride exceed the recommended upper dose limit.
- Concomitant use of opioid agonists-antagonists (nalbuphine, buprenorphine, pentazocine) is not recommended.
Precautions for use
Tolerance and physical and/or psychological dependence may develop, even at therapeutic doses. The clinical need for analgesic treatment should be reviewed regularly. In opioid-dependent patients and patients with a history of drug abuse or dependence, treatment should only be for short period and under medical supervision. Alkafen should be used with caution in patients with cranial trauma, in patients prone to convulsive disorder, biliary tract disorders, in a state of shock, in an altered state of consciousness for unknown reasons, with problems affecting the respiratory center or the respiratory function, or with an increased intracranial pressure.
Paracetamol in overdose may cause hepatic toxicity in some patients.
Symptoms of withdrawal reaction, similar to those occurring during opiate withdrawal, may occur even at therapeutic doses and for short term treatment. Withdrawal symptoms may be avoided by tapering it at the time of discontinuation especially after long treatment periods. Rarely, cases of dependence and abuse have been reported.
In one study, use of tramadol hydrochloride during general anaesthesia with enflurane and nitrous oxide was reported to enhance intra-operative recall. Until further information is available, use of tramadol hydrochloride during light planes of anaesthesia should be avoided.
The colorant Sunset yellow E110 may cause allergic reactions.
This medicinal product contains 7.8 mmol (or 179.4 mg) sodium per dose. To be taken into consideration by patients on a controlled sodium diet.
Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.
Addiction, Abuse And Misuse
ULTRACET contains tramadol, a Schedule IV controlled substance. As an opioid, ULTRACET exposes users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse.
Although the risk of addiction in any individual is unknown, it can occur in patients appropriately prescribed ULTRACET. Addiction can occur at recommended dosages and if the drug is misused or abused.
Assess each patient's risk for opioid addiction, abuse, or misuse prior to prescribing ULTRACET, and monitor all patients receiving ULTRACET for the development of these behaviors and conditions. Risks are increased in patients with a personal or family history of substance abuse (including drug or alcohol abuse or addiction) or mental illness (e.g., major depression). The potential for these risks should not, however, prevent the proper management of pain in any given patient. Patients at increased risk may be prescribed opioids such as ULTRACET, but use in such patients necessitates intensive counseling about the risks and proper use of ULTRACET along with intensive monitoring for signs of addiction, abuse, and misuse.
Opioids are sought by drug abusers and people with addiction disorders and are subject to criminal diversion. Consider these risks when prescribing or dispensing ULTRACET. Strategies to reduce these risks include prescribing the drug in the smallest appropriate quantity and advising the patient on the proper disposal of unused 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.
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. Management of respiratory depression may include close observation, supportive measures, and use of opioid antagonists, depending on the patient's clinical status. Carbon dioxide (CO2) retention from opioid-induced respiratory depression can exacerbate the sedating effects of opioids.
While serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression can occur at any time during the use of ULTRACET, the risk is greatest during the initiation of therapy or following a dosage increase. Monitor patients closely for respiratory depression, especially within the first 24-72 hours of initiating therapy with and following dosage increases of ULTRACET.
To reduce the risk of respiratory depression, proper dosing and titration of ULTRACET are essential. Overestimating the ULTRACET dosage when converting patients from another opioid product can result in a fatal overdose with the first dose.
Accidental ingestion of even one dose of ULTRACET, especially by children, can result in respiratory depression and death due to an overdose of tramadol.
Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome
Prolonged use of ULTRACET during pregnancy can result in withdrawal in the neonate. Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, unlike opioid withdrawal syndrome in adults, may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated, and requires management according to protocols developed by neonatology experts. Observe newborns for signs of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and manage accordingly. Advise pregnant women using opioids for a prolonged period of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available.
Risks Of Interactions With Drugs Affecting Cytochrome P450 Isoenzymes
The effects of concomitant use or discontinuation of cytochrome P450 3A4 inducers, 3A4 inhibitors, or 2D6 inhibitors on levels of tramadol and M1 from ULTRACET are complex. Use of cytochrome P450 3A4 inducers, 3A4 inhibitors, or 2D6 inhibitors with ULTRACET requires careful consideration of the effects on the parent drug, tramadol, which is a weak serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor and μ-opioid agonist, and the active metabolite, M1, which is more potent than tramadol in μ- opioid receptor binding.
Risks Of Concomitant Use Or Discontinuation Of Cytochrome P450 2D6 Inhibitors
The concomitant use of ULTRACET with all cytochrome P450 2D6 inhibitors (e.g., amiodarone, quinidine) may result in an increase in tramadol plasma levels and a decrease in the levels of the active metabolite, M1. A decrease in M1 exposure in patients who have developed physical dependence to tramadol, may result in signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal and reduced efficacy. The effect of increased tramadol levels may be an increased risk for serious adverse events including seizures and serotonin syndrome.
Discontinuation of a concomitantly used cytochrome P450 2D6 inhibitor may result in a decrease in tramadol plasma levels and an increase in active metabolite M1 levels, which could increase or prolong adverse reactions related to opioid toxicity and may cause potentially fatal respiratory depression.
Follow patients receiving ULTRACET and any CYP2D6 inhibitor for the risk of serious adverse events including seizures and serotonin syndrome, signs and symptoms that may reflect opioid toxicity, and opioid withdrawal when ULTRACET is used in conjunction with inhibitors of CYP2D6.
Cytochrome P450 3A4 Interaction
The concomitant use of ULTRACET with cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibitors, such as macrolide antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin), azole-antifungal agents (e.g., ketoconazole), and protease inhibitors (e.g., ritonavir) or discontinuation of a cytochrome P450 3A4 inducer such as rifampin, carbamazepine, and phenytoin, may result in an increase in tramadol plasma concentrations, which could increase or prolong adverse reactions, increase the risk for serious adverse events including seizures and serotonin syndrome, and may cause potentially fatal respiratory depression.
The concomitant use of ULTRACET with all cytochrome P450 3A4 inducers or discontinuation of a cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibitor may result in lower tramadol levels. This may be associated with a decrease in efficacy, and in some patients, may result in signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
Follow patients receiving ULTRACET and any CYP3A4 inhibitor or inducer for the risk for serious adverse events including seizures and serotonin syndrome, signs and symptoms that may reflect opioid toxicity and opioid withdrawal when ULTRACET is used in conjunction with inhibitors and inducers of CYP3A4.
ULTRACET contains tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen. Acetaminophen has been associated with cases of acute liver failure, at times resulting in liver transplant and death. Most of the cases of liver injury are associated with the use of acetaminophen at doses that exceed 4,000 milligrams per day, and often involve more than one acetaminophen-containing product. The excessive intake of acetaminophen may be intentional to cause self-harm or unintentional as patients attempt to obtain more pain relief or unknowingly take other acetaminophen-containing products.
The risk of acute liver failure is higher in individuals with underlying liver disease and in individuals who ingest alcohol while taking acetaminophen.
Instruct patients to look for acetaminophen or APAP on package labels and not to use more than one product that contains acetaminophen. Instruct patients to seek medical attention immediately upon ingestion of more than 4,000 milligrams of acetaminophen per day, even if they feel well.
Risks From Concomitant Use With Benzodiazepines Or Other CNS Depressants
Profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death may result from the concomitant use of ULTRACET with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants (e.g., non-benzodiazepine sedatives/hypnotics, anxiolytics, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, general anesthetics, antipsychotics, other opioids, alcohol). Because of these risks, reserve concomitant prescribing of these drugs for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options are inadequate.
Observational studies have demonstrated that concomitant use of opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines increases the risk of drug-related mortality compared to use of opioid analgesics alone. Because of similar pharmacological properties, it is reasonable to expect similar risk with the concomitant use of other CNS depressant drugs with opioid analgesics.
If the decision is made to prescribe a benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant concomitantly with an opioid analgesic, prescribe the lowest effective dosages and minimum durations of concomitant use. In patients already receiving an opioid analgesic, prescribe a lower initial dose of the benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant than indicated in the absence of an opioid, and titrate based on clinical response. If an opioid analgesic is initiated in a patient already taking a benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant, prescribe a lower initial dose of the opioid analgesic, and titrate based on clinical response. Follow patients closely for signs and symptoms of respiratory depression and sedation.
Advise both patients and caregivers about the risks of respiratory depression and sedation when ULTRACET is used with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants (including alcohol and illicit drugs). Advise patients not to drive or operate heavy machinery until the effects of concomitant use of the benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant have been determined. Screen patients for risk of substance use disorders, including opioid abuse and misuse, and warn them of the risk for overdose and death associated with the use of additional CNS depressants including alcohol and illicit drugs.
Serotonin Syndrome Risk
Cases of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition, have been reported with the use of tramadol, including ULTRACET, during concomitant use 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), 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). 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 ULTRACET if serotonin syndrome is suspected.
Increased Risk Of Seizures
Seizures have been reported in patients receiving tramadol within the recommended dosage range. Spontaneous post-marketing reports indicate that seizure risk is increased with doses of tramadol above the recommended range.
Concomitant use of tramadol increases the seizure risk in patients taking:.
- Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin-norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs) antidepressants or anorectics,
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and other tricyclic compounds (e.g., cyclobenzaprine, promethazine, etc.),
- Other opioids,
- MAO inhibitors
- Neuroleptics, or
- Other drugs that reduce the seizure threshold.
Risk of seizures may also increase in patients with epilepsy, those with a history of seizures, or in patients with a recognized risk for seizure (such as head trauma, metabolic disorders, alcohol and drug withdrawal, CNS infections).
In tramadol overdose, naloxone administration may increase the risk of seizure.
- Do not prescribe ULTRACET for patients who are suicidal or addiction-prone. Consideration should be given to the use of non-narcotic analgesics in patients who are suicidal or depressed.
- Prescribe ULTRACET with caution for patients with a history of misuse and/or are currently taking CNS-active drugs including tranquilizers, or antidepressant drugs, or alcohol in excess, and patients who suffer from emotional disturbance or depression.
- Inform patients not to exceed the recommended dose and to limit their intake of alcohol.
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.
Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression In Patients With Chronic Pulmonary Disease Or In Elderly, Cachectic, Or Debilitated Patients
The use of ULTRACET in patients with acute or severe bronchial asthma in an unmonitored setting or in the absence of resuscitative equipment is contraindicated.
Elderly, Cachectic, Or Debilitated Patients
Life-threatening respiratory depression is more likely to occur in elderly, cachectic, or debilitated patients because they may have altered pharmacokinetics, or altered clearance, compared to younger, healthier patients.
Monitor such patients closely, particularly when initiating and titrating ULTRACET and when ULTRACET is given concomitantly with other drugs that depress respiration. Alternatively, consider the use of non-opioid analgesics in these patients.
ULTRACET may cause severe hypotension including orthostatic hypotension and syncope in ambulatory patients. 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). Monitor these patients for signs of hypotension after initiating or titrating the dosage of ULTRACET. In patients with circulatory shock, ULTRACET may cause vasodilation that can further reduce cardiac output and blood pressure. Avoid the use of ULTRACET in patients with circulatory shock.
Risk Of Use In Patients With Increased Intracranial Pressure, Brain Tumors, Head Injury, Or Impaired Consciousness
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), ULTRACET may reduce respiratory drive, and the resultant CO2 retention can further increase intracranial pressure. Monitor such patients for signs of sedation and respiratory depression, particularly when initiating therapy with ULTRACET.
Opioids may also obscure the clinical course in a patient with a head injury. Avoid the use of ULTRACET in patients with impaired consciousness or coma.
Serious Skin Reactions
Rarely, acetaminophen may cause serious skin reactions such as acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP), Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which can be fatal. Patients should be informed about the signs of serious skin reactions, and use of the drug should be discontinued at the first appearance of skin rash or any other sign of hypersensitivity.
Risk Of Use In Patients With Gastrointestinal Conditions
ULTRACET is contraindicated in patients with known or suspected gastrointestinal obstruction, including paralytic ileus.
The tramadol in ULTRACET 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.
Anaphylaxis And Other Hypersensitivity Reactions
Serious and rarely fatal anaphylactic reactions have been reported in patients receiving therapy with tramadol. When these events do occur it is often following the first dose. Other reported allergic reactions include pruritus, hives, bronchospasm, angioedema, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and Stevens- Johnson syndrome. Patients with a history of anaphylactoid reactions to codeine and other opioids may be at increased risk and therefore should not receive ULTRACET. If anaphylaxis or other hypersensitivity occurs, stop administration of ULTRACET immediately, discontinue ULTRACET permanently, and do not rechallenge with any formulation of tramadol. Advise patients to seek immediate medical attention if they experience any symptoms of a hypersensitivity reaction.
There have been postmarketing reports of hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis associated with the use of acetaminophen. Clinical signs included swelling of the face, mouth, and throat, respiratory distress, urticaria, rash, pruritus, and vomiting. There were infrequent reports of life-threatening anaphylaxis requiring emergency medical attention. Instruct patients to discontinue ULTRACET immediately and seek medical care if they experience these symptoms. Do not prescribe ULTRACET for patients with acetaminophen allergy.
Increased Risk Of Hepatotoxicity With Concomitant Use Of Other Acetaminophen-containing Products
Due to the potential for acetaminophen hepatotoxicity at doses higher than the recommended dose, ULTRACET should not be used concomitantly with other acetaminophen containing products.
Avoid the use of mixed agonist/antagonist (e.g., pentazocine, nalbuphine, and butorphanol) or partial agonist (e.g., buprenorphine) analgesics in patients who are receiving a full opioid agonist analgesic, including ULTRACET. In these patients, mixed agonist/antagonist and partial agonist analgesics may reduce the analgesic effect and/or precipitate withdrawal symptoms. Do not abruptly discontinue ULTRACET.
Driving And Operating Machinery
ULTRACET 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 unless they are tolerant to the effects of ULTRACET and know how they will react to the medication.
Patient Counseling Information
Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide).
Addiction, Abuse, And Misuse
Inform patients that the use of ULTRACET, even when taken as recommended, can result in addiction, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death. Instruct patients not to share ULTRACET with others and to take steps to protect ULTRACET from theft or misuse.
Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression
Inform patients of the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression, including information that the risk is greatest when starting ULTRACET or when the dosage is increased, and that it can occur even at recommended dosages. Advise patients how to recognize respiratory depression and to seek medical attention if breathing difficulties develop.
Inform patients that accidental ingestion, especially by children, may result in respiratory depression or death. Instruct patients to take steps to store ULTRACET securely and to dispose of unused ULTRACET in accordance with the local state guidelines and/or regulations.
Interactions With Benzodiazepines And Other CNS Depressants
Inform patients and caregivers that potentially fatal additive effects may occur if ULTRACET is used with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants, including alcohol, and not to use these concomitantly unless supervised by a healthcare provider.
Inform patients that tramadol could cause a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, particularly during concomitant use with serotonergic drugs. Warn patients of the symptoms and signs of serotonin syndrome and to seek medical attention right away if symptoms develop. Instruct patients to inform their healthcare provider if they are taking, or plan to take serotonergic medications.
Inform patients not to take ULTRACET while using any drugs that inhibit monoamine oxidase. Patients should not start MAOIs while taking ULTRACET.
Inform patients that ULTRACET may cause seizures with concomitant use of serotonergic agents (including SSRIs, SNRIs, and triptans) or drugs that significantly reduce the metabolic clearance of tramadol.
Inform patients that opioids could cause adrenal insufficiency, a potentially life-threatening condition. Adrenal insufficiency may present with non-specific symptoms and signs such as nausea, vomiting, anorexia, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and low blood pressure. Advise patients to seek medical attention if they experience a constellation of these symptoms.
Important Administration Instructions
Instruct patients how to properly take ULTRACET.
- Do not adjust the dose of ULTRACET without consulting with a physician or other healthcare provider.
- Do not take more than 4000 milligrams of acetaminophen per day and to call their healthcare provider if they took more than the recommended dose.
Inform patients that ULTRACET may cause orthostatic hypotension and syncope. Instruct patients how to recognize symptoms of low blood pressure and how to reduce the risk of serious consequences should hypotension occur (e.g., sit or lie down, carefully rise from a sitting or lying position).
Inform patients that anaphylaxis have been reported with ingredients contained in ULTRACET. Advise patients how to recognize such a reaction and when to seek medical attention.
Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome
Inform female patients of reproductive potential that ULTRACET should not be used for more than 5 days and that prolonged use of opioids such as ULTRACET, during pregnancy can result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated.
Inform female patients of reproductive potential that ULTRACET can cause fetal harm and to inform the healthcare provider of a known or suspected pregnancy.
Inform patients that chronic use of opioids may cause reduced fertility. It is not known whether these effects on fertility are reversible [Use in Specific Populations (8.3)].
Driving Or Operating Heavy Machinery
Inform patients that ULTRACET may impair the ability to perform potentially hazardous activities such as driving a car or operating heavy machinery. Advise patients not to perform such tasks until they know how they will react to the medication.
Advise patients of the potential for severe constipation, including management instructions and when to seek medical attention.
Disposal Of Unused ULTRACET
Advise patients to throw the unused ULTRACET in the household trash following these steps. 1) Remove the drugs from their original containers and mix with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter (this makes the drug less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through the trash seeking drugs). 2) Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent the drug from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.
Maximum Daily Acetaminophen Use
Advise patients not to take more than 4,000 milligrams of acetaminophen per day and call their doctor if they have taken more than the recommended dose.
Use With Other Acetaminophen-Containing Products
Advise patients not to take ULTRACET in combination with other tramadol or acetaminophencontaining products, including over-the-counter preparations.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
There are no animal or laboratory studies on the combination product (tramadol and acetaminophen) to evaluate carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, or impairment of fertility. Data on the individual components are described below.
A slight but statistically significant increase in two common murine tumors, pulmonary and hepatic, was observed in an NMRI mouse carcinogenicity study, particularly in aged mice. Mice were dosed orally up to 30 mg/kg in the drinking water (0.5 times the maximum recommended daily human dosage or MRHD) for approximately two years, although the study was not done with the Maximum Tolerated Dose. This finding is not believed to suggest risk in humans. No evidence of carcinogenicity was noted in a rat 2-year carcinogenicity study testing oral doses of up to 30 mg/kg in the drinking water (1 times the MRHD).
Long-term studies in mice and rats have been completed by the National Toxicology Program to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of acetaminophen. In 2-year feeding studies, F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice were fed a diet containing acetaminophen up to 6000 ppm. Female rats demonstrated equivocal evidence of carcinogenic activity based on increased incidences of mononuclear cell leukemia at 1.2 times the maximum human daily dose (MHDD) of 2.6 grams/day, based on a body surface area comparison. In contrast, there was no evidence of carcinogenic activity in male rats (1.1 times) or mice (1.9-2.2 times the MHDD, based on a body surface area comparison).
Tramadol was mutagenic in the presence of metabolic activation in the mouse lymphoma assay. Tramadol was not mutagenic in the in vitro bacterial reverse mutation assay using Salmonella and E. coli (Ames), the mouse lymphoma assay in the absence of metabolic activation, the in vitro chromosomal aberration assay, or the in vivo micronucleus assay in bone marrow.
Acetaminophen was not mutagenic in the bacterial reverse mutation assay (Ames test). In contrast, acetaminophen tested positive for induction of sister chromatid exchanges and chromosomal aberrations in in vitro assays using Chinese hamster ovary cells. In the published literature, acetaminophen has been reported to be clastogenic when administered a dose of 1500 mg/kg/day to the rat model (3.6-times the MHDD, based on a body surface area comparison). In contrast, no clastogenicity was noted at a dose of 750 mg/kg/day (2.8-times the MHDD, based on a body surface area comparison), suggesting a threshold effect.
Impairment Of Fertility
No effects on fertility were observed for tramadol at oral dose levels up to 50 mg/kg in male rats and 75 mg/kg in female rats. These dosages are 1.6 and 2.4 times the MRHD.
In studies of acetaminophen conducted by the National Toxicology Program, fertility assessments have been completed in Swiss mice via a continuous breeding study. There were no effects on fertility parameters in mice consuming up to 1.7 times the MHDD of acetaminophen, based on a body surface area comparison. Although there was no effect on sperm motility or sperm density in the epididymis, there was a significant increase in the percentage of abnormal sperm in mice consuming 1.7 times the MHDD (based on a body surface area comparison) and there was a reduction in the number of mating pairs producing a fifth litter at this dose, suggesting the potential for cumulative toxicity with chronic administration of acetaminophen near the upper limit of daily dosing.
Published studies in rodents report that oral acetaminophen treatment of male animals at doses that are 1.2 times the MHDD and greater (based on a body surface area comparison) result in decreased testicular weights, reduced spermatogenesis, reduced fertility, and reduced implantation sites in females given the same doses. These effects appear to increase with the duration of treatment. The clinical significance of these findings is not known.
Use In Specific Populations
Prolonged use of opioid analgesics during pregnancy may cause neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. Available data with ULTRACET in pregnant women are insufficient to inform a drug-associated risk for major birth defects and miscarriage.
In animal reproduction studies, the combination of tramadol and acetaminophen decreased fetal weights and increased supernumerary ribs at 1.6 times the maximum recommended human daily dosage (MRHD). In separate animal reproduction studies, tramadol administration alone during organogenesis decreased fetal weights and reduced ossification in mice, rats, and rabbits at 1.4, 0.6, and 3.6 times the maximum recommended human daily dosage (MRHD). Tramadol decreased pup body weight and increased pup mortality at 1.2 and 1.9 times the MRHD.
Reproductive and developmental studies in rats and mice from the published literature identified adverse events at clinically relevant doses with acetaminophen. Treatment of pregnant rats with doses of acetaminophen approximately 1.3 times the maximum human daily dose (MRHD) showed evidence of fetotoxicity and increases in bone variations in the fetuses. In another study, necrosis was observed in the liver and kidney of both pregnant rats and fetuses at doses approximately 1.9 times the MHDD. In mice treated with acetaminophen at doses within the clinical dosing range, cumulative adverse effects on reproduction were seen in a continuous breeding study. A reduction in number of litters of the parental mating pair was observed as well as retarded growth and abnormal sperm in their offspring and reduced birth weight in the next generation. Based on animal data, advise pregnant women of the potential risk to a fetus.
All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defect, loss, or other adverse outcomes. 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 respiratory depression and 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
Tramadol may cause drowsiness or dizziness, which may be enhanced by alcohol or other CNS depressants. If affected, the patient should not drive or operate machinery.
This medicine can impair cognitive function and can affect a patient's ability to drive safely. This class of medicine is in the list of drugs included in regulations under 5a of the Road Traffic Act 1988. When prescribing this medicine, patients should be told:
- The medicine is likely to affect your ability to drive
- Do not drive until you know how the medicine affects you
- It is an offence to drive while under the influence of this medicine
- However, you would not be committing an offence (called 'statutory defence') if:
o The medicine has been prescribed to treat a medical or dental problem and
o You have taken it according to the instructions given by the prescriber and in the information provided with the medicine and
o It was not affecting your ability to drive safely
The most commonly reported undesirable effects during the clinical trials performed with the paracetamol/tramadol hydrochloride combination were nausea, dizziness and somnolence, observed in more than 10 % of the patients.
The frequencies are defined as follows:
>1/100 to <1/10
>1/1000 to <1/100
>1/10 000 to <1/1000
Frequency cannot be estimated from the available data
Within each frequency grouping, undesirable effects are presented in order of decreasing seriousness.
- Uncommon: arrhythmia, tachycardia, palpitations.
- Rare: vision blurred, miosis, mydriasis
Ear and labyrinth disorders:
- Uncommon: tinnitus
- Very common: nausea
- Common: vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, dyspepsia, flatulence
- Uncommon: dysphagia, melaena.
General disorders and administration site conditions:
- Uncommon: chills, chest pain.
- Uncommon: transaminases increased.
Metabolism and nutrition disorders:
- Unknown: hypoglycaemia
Nervous system disorders:
- Very common: somnolence, dizziness
- Common: headache, trembling
- Uncommon: muscular contractions involuntary, paraesthesia, amnesia
- Rare: convulsions, ataxia, syncope, speech disorders.
- Common: confusional state, mood altered, anxiety, nervousness, euphoric mood, sleep disorders
- Uncommon: depression, hallucinations, nightmares
- Rare: delirium, drug dependence
Post marketing surveillance
Very rare: abuse.
Renal and urinary disorders:
- Uncommon: albuminuria, micturition disorder (dysuria and urinary retention).
Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders:
- Uncommon: dyspnoea
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders:
- Common: hyperhidrosis, pruritus
- Uncommon: dermal reactions (e.g.rash, urticaria).
- Uncommon: hypertension, hot flush
Although not observed during clinical trials, the occurrence of the following undesirable effects known to be related to the administration of tramadol hydrochloride or paracetamol cannot be excluded:
- Postural hypotension, bradycardia, collapse.
- Post-marketing surveillance of tramadol hydrochloride has revealed rare alterations of warfarin effect, including elevation of prothrombin times.
- Rare cases (> 1/10000 to < 1/1000): allergic reactions with respiratory symptoms (e.g. dyspnoea, bronchospasm, wheezing, angioneurotic oedema) and anaphylaxis
- Rare cases (> 1/10000 to < 1/1000): changes in appetite, motor weakness, and respiratory depression
- Psychic side-effects may occur following administration of tramadol hydrochloride which vary individually in intensity and nature (depending on personality and duration of medication). These include changes in mood, (usually euphoric mood occasionally dysphoria), changes in activity (usually suppression occasionally increase) and changes in cognitive and sensorial capacity (e.g. decision behaviour perception disorders).
- Worsening of asthma has been reported though a causal relationship has not been established.
- Symptoms of drug withdrawal syndrome, similar to those occurring during opiate withdrawal may occur as follows: agitation, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, hyperkinesia, tremor and gastrointestinal symptoms. Other symptoms that have very rarely been seen if tramadol hydrochloride is discontinued abruptly include: panic attacks, severe anxiety, hallucinations, paraesthesia, tinnitus and unusual CNS symptoms.
- Adverse effects of paracetamol are rare but hypersensitivity including skin rash may occur. There have been reports of blood dyscrasias including thrombocytopenia and agranulocytosis, but these were not necessarily causally related to paracetamol.
- There have been several reports that suggest that paracetamol may produce hypoprothrombinemia when administered with warfarin-like compounds. In other studies, prothrombin time did not change.
- Very rare cases of serious skin reactions have been reported.
Reporting of suspected adverse reactions
Reporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme at: www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard.
The following serious adverse reactions are discussed, or described in greater detail, in other sections:
- Addiction, Abuse, and Misuse
- Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression
- Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome
- Interactions with Benzodiazepines and Other CNS Depressants
- Serotonin Syndrome
- Adrenal Insufficiency
- Severe Hypotension
- Gastrointestinal Adverse Reactions
- Hypersensitivity Reactions
Clinical Trials Experience
Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.
The most common incidence of treatment-emergent adverse events ( ≥ 3.0%) in subjects from clinical trials was constipation, diarrhea, nausea, somnolence, anorexia, dizziness, and sweating increased.
Table 1 shows the incidence rate of treatment-emergent adverse events reported in ≥ 2.0% of subjects over five days of ULTRACET use in clinical trials (subjects took an average of at least 6 tablets per day).
Table 1: Incidence of Treatment-Emergent Adverse Events ( ≥ 2.0%)
|Body System |
|Gastrointestinal System Disorders|
|Central & Peripheral Nervous System|
|Skin and Appendages|
|Reproductive Disorders, Male*|
|*Number of males = 62|
Incidence at least 1%, causal relationship at least possible or greater:
The following lists adverse reactions that occurred with an incidence of at least 1% in single-dose or repeated-dose clinical trials of ULTRACET.
Body as a Whole - Asthenia, fatigue, hot flushes
Central and Peripheral Nervous System - Dizziness, headache, tremor
Gastrointestinal System - Abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, dyspepsia, flatulence, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting
Psychiatric Disorders - Anorexia, anxiety, confusion, euphoria, insomnia, nervousness, somnolence
Skin and Appendages - Pruritus, rash, increased sweating
Selected Adverse events occurring at less than 1%:
The following lists clinically relevant adverse reactions that occurred with an incidence of less than 1% in ULTRACET clinical trials.
Body as a Whole - Chest pain, rigors, syncope, withdrawal syndrome
Cardiovascular Disorders - Hypertension, aggravated hypertension, hypotension
Central and Peripheral Nervous System - Ataxia, convulsions, hypertonia, migraine, aggravated migraine, involuntary muscle contractions, paresthesias, stupor, vertigo
Gastrointestinal System - Dysphagia, melena, tongue edema
Hearing and Vestibular Disorders - Tinnitus
Heart Rate and Rhythm Disorders - Arrhythmia, palpitation, tachycardia
Liver and Biliary System - Hepatic function abnormal
Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders - Weight decrease
Psychiatric Disorders - Amnesia, depersonalization, depression, drug abuse, emotional lability, hallucination, impotence, paroniria, abnormal thinking
Red Blood Cell Disorders - Anemia
Respiratory System - Dyspnea
Urinary System - Albuminuria, micturition disorder, oliguria, urinary retention
Vision Disorders - Abnormal vision
The following adverse reactions have been identified during post approval use of tramadol-containing products. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.
Serotonin syndrome: Cases of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition, have been reported during concomitant use of opioids with serotonergic drugs.
Adrenal insufficiency: Cases of adrenal insufficiency have been reported with opioid use, more often following greater than one month of use.
Anaphylaxis: Anaphylaxis has been reported with ingredients contained in ULTRACET.
Androgen deficiency: Cases of androgen deficiency have occurred with chronic use of opioids.
Eye disorders - miosis, mydriasis
Metabolism and nutrition disorders - Cases of hypoglycemia have been reported very rarely in patients taking tramadol. Most reports were in patients with predisposing risk factors, including diabetes or renal insufficiency, or in elderly patients.
Nervous system disorders - movement disorder, speech disorder
Psychiatric disorders - delirium
Other clinically significant adverse experiences previously reported with tramadol hydrochloride:
Other events which have been reported with the use of tramadol products and for which a causal association has not been determined include: vasodilation, orthostatic hypotension, myocardial ischemia, pulmonary edema, allergic reactions (including anaphylaxis and urticaria, Stevens-Johnson syndrome/TENS), cognitive dysfunction, difficulty concentrating, depression, suicidal tendency, hepatitis, liver failure, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Reported laboratory abnormalities included elevated creatinine and liver function tests. Serotonin syndrome (whose symptoms may include mental status change, hyperreflexia, fever, shivering, tremor, agitation, diaphoresis, seizures, and coma) has been reported with tramadol when used concomitantly with other serotonergic agents such as SSRIs and MAOIs.
Alkafen is a fixed combination of active substances. In case of overdose, the symptoms may include the signs and symptoms of toxicity of tramadol hydrochloride or paracetamol or of both these active ingredients.
Symptoms of overdose from tramadol hydrochloride:
In principle, on intoxication with tramadol hydrochloride, symptoms similar to those of other centrally acting analgesics (opioids) are to be expected. These include in particular, miosis, vomiting, cardiovascular collapse, consciousness disorders up to coma, convulsions and respiratory depression up to respiratory arrest.
Symptoms of overdose from paracetamol:
An overdose is of particular concern in young children. Symptoms of paracetamol overdosage in the first 24 hours are pallor, nausea, vomiting, anorexia and abdominal pain. Liver damage may become apparent 12 to 48 hours after ingestion. Abnormalities of glucose metabolism and metabolic acidosis may occur. In severe poisoning, hepatic failure may progress to encephalophathy, coma and death. Acute renal failure with acute tubular necrosis may develop even in the absence of severe liver damage. Cardiac arrhythmias and pancreatitis have been reported.
Liver damage is possible in adults who have taken 7.5-10 g or more of paracetamol. It is considered that excess quantities of a toxic metabolite (usually adequately detoxified by glutathione when normal doses of paracetamol are ingested), become irreversibly bound to liver tissue.
- Transfer immediately to a specialised unit.
- Maintain respiratory and circulatory functions
- Prior to starting treatment, a blood sample should be taken as soon as possible after overdose in order to measure the plasma concentration of paracetamol and tramadol and in order to perform hepatic tests.
- Perform hepatic tests at the start (of overdose) and repeat every 24 hours. An increase in hepatic enzymes (ASAT, ALAT) is usually observed, which normalizes after one or two weeks.
- Empty the stomach by causing the patient to vomit (when the patient is conscious) by irritation or gastric lavage.
- Supportive measures such as maintaining the patency of the airway and maintaining cardiovascular function should be instituted; naloxone should be used to reverse respiratory depression; fits can be controlled with diazepam.
- Tramadol hydrochloride is minimally eliminated from the serum by haemodialysis or haemofiltration. Therefore treatment of acute intoxication with Alkafen with haemodialysis or haemofiltration alone is not suitable for detoxification.
Immediate treatment is essential in the management of paracetamol overdose. Despite a lack of significant early symptoms, patients should be referred to hospital urgently for immediate medical attention and any adult or adolescent who had ingested around 7.5 g or more of paracetamol in the preceding 4 hours or any child who has ingested >150 mg/kg of paracetamol in the preceding 4 hours should undergo gastric lavage. Paracetamol concentrations in blood should be measured later than 4 hours after overdose in order to be able to assess the risk of developing liver damage (via the paracetamol overdose nomogram). Administration of oral methionine or intravenous N-acetylcysteine (NAC) which may have a beneficial effect up to at least 48 hours after the overdose, may be required. Administration of intravenous NAC is most beneficial when initiated within 8 hours of overdose ingestion. However, NAC should still be given if the time to presentation is greater than 8 hours after overdose and continued for a full course of therapy. NAC treatment should be started immediately when massive overdose is suspected. General supportive measures must be available.
Irrespective of the reported quantity of paracetamol ingested, the antidote for paracetamol, NAC, should be administered orally or intravenously, as quickly as possible, if possible, within 8 hours following the overdose.
ULTRACET is a combination drug. The clinical presentation of overdose may include the signs and symptoms of tramadol toxicity, acetaminophen toxicity or both. The initial symptoms of tramadol overdosage may include respiratory depression and/or seizures. The initial symptoms seen within the first 24 hours following an acetaminophen overdose are: anorexia, nausea, vomiting, malaise, pallor and diaphoresis.
Acute overdosage with tramadol 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, seizures, and death. Marked mydriasis rather than miosis may be seen with hypoxia in overdose situations.
Deaths due to overdose have been reported with abuse and misuse of tramadol. Review of case reports has indicated that the risk of fatal overdose is further increased when tramadol is abused concurrently with alcohol or other CNS depressants, including other opioids.
In acute acetaminophen overdosage, dose-dependent, potentially fatal hepatic necrosis is the most serious adverse effect. Renal tubular necrosis, hypoglycemic coma, and thrombocytopenia also occur. Plasma acetaminophen levels > 300 mcg/mL at 4 hours after oral ingestion were associated with hepatic damage in 90% of patients; minimal hepatic damage is anticipated if plasma levels at 4 hours are < 150 mcg/mL or < 37.5 mcg/mL at 12 hours after ingestion. Early symptoms following a potentially hepatotoxic overdose may include: nausea, vomiting, diaphoresis, and general malaise. Clinical and laboratory evidence of hepatic toxicity may not be apparent until 48 to 72 hours post-ingestion.
Treatment Of Overdose
A single or multiple drug overdose with tramadol and acetaminophen is a potentially lethal polydrug overdose, and consultation with a regional poison control center is recommended. Immediate treatment includes support of cardiorespiratory function and measures to reduce drug absorption. Oxygen, intravenous fluids, vasopressors, assisted ventilation, and other supportive measures should be employed as indicated.
In case of overdose, priorities are the re-establishment 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 tramadol overdose, administer an opioid antagonist. Opioid antagonists should not be administered in the absence of clinically significant respiratory or circulatory depression secondary to tramadol overdose.
While naloxone will reverse some, but not all, symptoms caused by overdosage with tramadol, the risk of seizures is also increased with naloxone administration. In animals, convulsions following the administration of toxic doses of ULTRACET could be suppressed with barbiturates or benzodiazepines but were increased with naloxone. Naloxone administration did not change the lethality of an overdose in mice. Hemodialysis is not expected to be helpful in an overdose because it removes less than 7% of the administered dose in a 4-hour dialysis period.
Because the duration of opioid reversal is expected to be less than the duration of action of tramadol in ULTRACET, 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.
If an acetaminophen overdose is suspected, obtain a serum acetaminophen assay as soon as possible, but no sooner than 4 hours following oral ingestion. Obtain liver function studies initially and repeat at 24- hour intervals. Administer the antidote N-acetylcysteine (NAC) as early as possible. As a guide to treatment of acute ingestion, the acetaminophen level can be plotted against time since oral ingestion on a nomogram Rumack-Matthew). The lower toxic line on the nomogram is equivalent to 150 mcg/mL at 4 hours and 37.5 mcg/mL at 12 hours. If serum level is above the lower line, administer the entire course of NAC treatment. Withhold NAC therapy if the acetaminophen level is below the lower line.
Gastric decontamination with activated charcoal should be administered just prior to N-acetylcysteine (NAC) to decrease systemic absorption if acetaminophen ingestion is known or suspected to have occurred within a few hours of presentation. Serum acetaminophen levels should be obtained immediately if the patient presents 4 hours or more after ingestion to assess potential risk of hepatotoxicity; acetaminophen levels drawn less than 4 hours post-ingestion may be misleading. To obtain the best possible outcome, NAC should be administered as soon as possible where impending or evolving liver injury is suspected. Intravenous NAC may be administered when circumstances preclude oral administration.
Vigorous supportive therapy is required in severe intoxication. Procedures to limit the continuing absorption of the drug must be readily performed since the hepatic injury is dose-dependent and occurs early in the course of intoxication.
Pharmacotherapeutic group: Opioids in combination with non-opioid analgesics; tramadol and paracetamol
ATC code: N02A J 13
Tramadol is an opioid analgesic that acts on the central nervous system. Tramadol is a pure non selective agonists of the Î¼, Î´, and Îº opioid receptors with a higher affinity for the Âµ receptors. Other mechanisms which contribute to its analgesic effect are inhibition of neuronal reuptake of noradrenaline and enhancement of serotonin release. Tramadol has an antitussive effect. Unlike morphine, a broad range of analgesic doses of tramadol has no respiratory depressant effect. Similarly, the gastro-intestinal motility is not modified. The cardiovascular effects are generally slight. The potency of tramadol is considered to be one-tenth to one-sixth that of morphine.
The precise mechanism of the analgesic properties of paracetamol is unknown and may involve central and peripheral effects.
Alkafen is positioned as a step II analgesic in the WHO pain ladder and should be utilised accordingly by the physician.
Effects On The Central Nervous System
Tramadol produces respiratory depression by direct action on brain stem respiratory centers. The respiratory depression involves a reduction in the responsiveness of the brain stem respiratory centers to both increases in carbon dioxide tension and electrical stimulation.
Tramadol causes miosis, even in total darkness. Pinpoint pupils are a sign of opioid overdose but are not pathognomonic (e.g., pontine lesions of hemorrhagic or ischemic origins may produce similar findings). Marked mydriasis rather than miosis may be seen due to hypoxia in overdose situations.
Effects On The Gastrointestinal Tract And Other Smooth Muscle
Tramadol causes a reduction in motility associated with an increase in smooth muscle tone in the antrum of the stomach and duodenum. Digestion of food in the small intestine is delayed and propulsive contractions are decreased. Propulsive peristaltic waves in the colon are decreased, while tone may be increased to the point of spasm resulting in constipation. Other opioid-induced effects may include a reduction in biliary and pancreatic secretions, spasm of sphincter of Oddi, and transient elevations in serum amylase.
Effects On The Cardiovascular System
Tramadol produces peripheral vasodilation which may result in orthostatic hypotension or syncope. Manifestations of histamine release and/or peripheral vasodilation may include pruritus, flushing, red eyes, sweating, and/or orthostatic hypotension.
Effects On The Endocrine System
Opioids inhibit the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, and luteinizing hormone (LH) in humans. They also stimulate prolactin, growth hormone (GH) secretion, and pancreatic secretion of insulin and glucagon.
Chronic use of opioids may influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, leading to androgen deficiency that may manifest as low libido, impotence, erectile dysfunction, amenorrhea, or infertility. The causal role of opioids in the clinical syndrome of hypogonadism is unknown because the various medical, physical, lifestyle, and psychological stressors that may influence gonadal hormone levels have not been adequately controlled for in studies conducted to date.
Effects On The Immune System
Opioids have been shown to have a variety of effects on components of the immune system in in vitro and animal models. The clinical significance of these findings is unknown. Overall, the effects of opioids appear to be modestly immunosuppressive.
The minimum effective analgesic concentration will vary widely among patients, especially among patients who have been previously treated with potent opioid agonists. The minimum effective analgesic concentration of tramadol for any individual patient may increase over time due to an increase in pain, the development of a new pain syndrome and/or the development of analgesic tolerance.
Concentration-Adverse Reaction Relationships
There is a relationship between increasing tramadol plasma concentration and increasing frequency of dose-related opioid adverse reactions such as nausea, vomiting, CNS effects, and respiratory depression. In opioid-tolerant patients, the situation may be altered by the development of tolerance to opioid-related adverse reactions.
Tramadol hydrochloride is administered in racemic form and the [-] and [+] forms of tramadol and its metabolite M1, are detected in the blood. Although tramadol is rapidly absorbed after administration, its absorption is slower (and its half-life longer) than that of paracetamol.
After a single oral administration of a tramadol hydrochloride/paracetamol (37.5 mg/325 mg) effervescent tablet, mean peak plasma concentrations of 94.1 ng/ml for racemic tramadol and 4.0 mcg/ml for paracetamol are reached after 1.1 h (racemic tramadol) and 0.5 h (paracetamol), respectively. The mean terminal phase half-lives (t1/2) are 5.7 h for racemic tramadol and 2.8 h for paracetamol.
During pharmacokinetic studies in healthy volunteers after single and repeated oral administration of Alkafen, no clinical significant change was observed in the kinetic parameters of each active ingredient compared to the parameters of the active ingredients used alone.
Racemic tramadol is rapidly and almost completely absorbed after oral administration. The mean absolute bioavailability of a single 100 mg dose is approximately 75%. After repeated administration, the bioavailability is increased and reaches approximately 90%.
After administration ofAlkafen, the oral absorption of paracetamol is rapid and nearly complete and takes place mainly in the small intestine. Peak plasma concentrations of paracetamol are reached in one hour and are not modified by concomitant administration of tramadol hydrochloride.
The oral administration of Alkafen with food has no significant effect on the peak plasma concentration or extent of absorption of either tramadol or paracetamol so that Alkafen can be taken independently of meal times.
Tramadol has a high tissue affinity (Vd,Î²=203 Â± 40 l). It has a plasma protein binding of about 20%.
Paracetamol appears to be widely distributed throughout most body tissues except fat. Its apparent volume of distribution is about 0.9 l/kg. A relative small portion (~20%) of paracetamol is bound to plasma proteins.
Tramadol is extensively metabolized after oral administration. About 30% of the dose is excreted in urine as unchanged drug, whereas 60% of the dose is excreted as metabolites.
Tramadol is metabolised through O-demethylation (catalysed by the enzyme CYP2D6) to the metabolite M1, and through N-demethylation (catalysed by CYP3A) to the metabolite M2. M1 is further metabolised through N-demethylation and by conjugation with glucuronic acid. The plasma elimination half-life of M1 is 7 hours. The metabolite M1 has analgesic properties and is more potent than the parent drug. The plasma concentrations of M1 are several-fold lower than those of tramadol and the contribution to the clinical effect is unlikely to change on multiple dosing.
Paracetamol is principally metabolized in the liver through two major hepatic routes: glucuronidation and sulphation. The latter route can be rapidly saturated at doses above the therapeutic doses. A small fraction (less than 4%) is metabolized by cytochrome P 450 to an active intermediate (the N-acetyl benzoquinoneimine) which, under normal conditions of use, is rapidly detoxified by reduced glutathione and excreted in urine after conjugation to cysteine and mercapturic acid. However, during massive overdose, the quantity of this metabolite is increased.
Tramadol and its metabolites are eliminated mainly by the kidneys. The half-life of paracetamol is approximately 2 to 3 hours in adults. It is shorter in children and slightly longer in the newborn and in cirrhotic patients. Paracetamol is mainly eliminated by dose-dependent formation of glucuro- and sulpho-conjugate derivatives. Less than 9% of paracetamol is excreted unchanged in urine. In renal insufficiency, the half-life of both compounds is prolonged.
Tramadol is administered as a racemate and both the [-] and [+] forms of both tramadol and M1 are detected in the circulation.
The absolute bioavailability of tramadol from ULTRACET tablets has not been determined. Tramadol has a mean absolute bioavailability of approximately 75% following administration of a single 100 mg oral dose of ULTRAM tablets. The mean peak plasma concentration of racemic tramadol and M1 after administration of two ULTRACET tablets occurs at approximately two and three hours, respectively, post-dose.
The pharmacokinetics of plasma tramadol and acetaminophen following oral administration of one ULTRACET tablet are shown in Table 3. Tramadol has a slower absorption and longer half-life when compared to acetaminophen.
Table 3: Summary of Mean (±SD) Pharmacokinetic Parameters of the (+)- and (-) Enantiomers of Tramadol and M1 and Acetaminophen Following A Single Oral Dos e Of One Tramadol/Acetaminophen Combination Tablet (37.5 mg/325 mg) in Volunteers
|Cmax (ng/mL)||64.3 (9.3)||55.5 (8.1)||10.9 (5.7)||12.8 (4.2)||4.2 (0.8)|
|tmax (h)||1.8 (0.6)||1.8 (0.7)||2.1 (0.7)||2.2 (0.7)||0.9 (0.7)|
|CL/F (mL/min)||588 (226)||736 (244)||--||--||365 (84)|
|t½ (h)||5.1 (1.4)||4.7 (1.2)||7.8 (3.0)||6.2 (1.6)||2.5 (0.6)|
|*For acetaminophen, Cmax was max measured as mcg/mL.|
A single-dose pharmacokinetic study of ULTRACET in volunteers showed no drug interactions between tramadol and acetaminophen.
Upon multiple oral dosing to steady state, however, the bioavailability of tramadol and metabolite M1 was lower for the combination tablets compared to tramadol administered alone. The decrease in AUC was 14% for (+)-tramadol, 10.4% for (-)-tramadol, 11.9% for (+)-M1, and 24.2% for (-)-M1. The cause of this reduced bioavailability is not clear.
Peak plasma concentrations of acetaminophen occur within one hour and are not affected by coadministration with tramadol. Following single- or multiple-dose administration of ULTRACET, no significant change in acetaminophen pharmacokinetics was observed when compared to acetaminophen given alone.
When ULTRACET was administered with food, the time to peak plasma concentration was delayed for approximately 35 minutes for tramadol and almost one hour for acetaminophen. However, peak plasma concentrations, and the extents of absorption, of tramadol and acetaminophen were not affected. The clinical significance of this difference is unknown.
The volume of distribution of tramadol was 2.6 and 2.9 L/kg in male and female subjects, respectively, following a 100 mg intravenous dose. The binding of tramadol to human plasma proteins is approximately 20% and binding also appears to be independent of concentration up to 10 mcg/mL. Saturation of plasma protein binding occurs only at concentrations outside the clinically relevant range.
Acetaminophen appears to be widely distributed throughout most body tissues except fat. Its apparent volume of distribution is about 0.9 L/kg. A relative small portion (~20%) of acetaminophen is bound to plasma protein.
Tramadol is eliminated primarily through metabolism by the liver and the metabolites are eliminated primarily by the kidneys. The mean (SD) apparent total clearance of tramadol after a single 37.5 mg dose is 588 (226) mL/min for the (+) isomer and 736 (244) mL/min for the (-) isomer. The plasma elimination half-lives of racemic tramadol and M1 are approximately 5-6 and 7 hours, respectively, after administration of ULTRACET. The apparent plasma elimination half-life of racemic tramadol increased to 7-9 hours upon multiple dosing of ULTRACET.
The half-life of acetaminophen is about 2 to 3 hours in adults. It is somewhat shorter in children and somewhat longer in neonates and in cirrhotic patients. Acetaminophen is eliminated from the body primarily by formation of glucuronide and sulfate conjugates in a dose dependent manner.
Following oral administration, tramadol is extensively metabolized by a number of pathways, including CYP2D6 and CYP3A4, as well as by conjugation of parent and metabolites. The major metabolic pathways appear to be N- and O-demethylation and glucuronidation or sulfation in the liver. Metabolite M1 (O-desmethyltramadol) is pharmacologically active in animal models. Formation of M1 is dependent on CYP2D6 and as such is subject to inhibition, which may affect the therapeutic response.
Approximately 7% of the population has reduced activity of the CYP2D6 isoenzyme of cytochrome P450. These individuals are “poor metabolizers” of debrisoquine, dextromethorphan, and tricyclic antidepressants, among other drugs. Based on a population PK analysis of Phase 1 studies in healthy subjects, concentrations of tramadol were approximately 20% higher in “poor metabolizers” versus “extensive metabolizers,” while M1 concentrations were 40% lower. In vitro drug interaction studies in human liver microsomes indicate that inhibitors of CYP2D6 such as fluoxetine and its metabolite norfluoxetine, amitriptyline, and quinidine inhibit the metabolism of tramadol to various degrees. The full pharmacological impact of these alterations in terms of either efficacy or safety is unknown.
Acetaminophen is primarily metabolized in the liver by first-order kinetics and involves three principal separate pathways:
- conjugation with glucuronide;
- conjugation with sulfate; and
- oxidation via the cytochrome, P450-dependent, mixed-function oxidase enzyme pathway to form a reactive intermediate metabolite, which conjugates with glutathione and is then further metabolized to form cysteine and mercapturic acid conjugates. The principal cytochrome P450 isoenzyme involved appears to be CYP2E1, with CYP1A2 and CYP3A4 as additional pathways.
In adults, the majority of acetaminophen is conjugated with glucuronic acid and, to a lesser extent, with sulfate. These glucuronide-, sulfate-, and glutathione-derived metabolites lack biologic activity. In premature infants, newborns, and young infants, the sulfate conjugate predominates.
Approximately 30% of the tramadol dose is excreted in the urine as unchanged drug, whereas 60% of the dose is excreted as metabolites.
Less than 9% of acetaminophen is excreted unchanged in the urine.
No preclinical study has been performed with the fixed combination (tramadol hydrochloride and paracetamol) to evaluate its carcinogenic or mutagenic effects or its effects on fertility.
No teratogenic effect that can be attributed to the medicine has been observed in the progeny of rats treated orally with the combination tramadol hydrochloride/paracetamol.
The combination tramadol hydrochloride/paracetamol has proven to be embryotoxic and foetotoxic in the rat at materno-toxic dose (50/434 mg/kg tramadol hydrochloride/paracetamol), i.e., 8.3 times the maximum therapeutic dose in man. No teratogenic effect has been observed at this dose. The toxicity to the embryo and the foetus results in a decreased foetal weight and an increase in supernumerary ribs. Lower doses, causing less severe materno-toxic effect (10/87 and 25/217 mg/kg tramadol hydrochloride/paracetamol) did not result in toxic effects in the embryo or the foetus.
Results of standard mutagenicity tests did not reveal a potential genotoxic risk for tramadol hydrochloride in man.
Results of carcinogenicity tests do not suggest a potential risk of tramadol hydrochloride for man.
Animal studies with tramadol hydrochloride revealed, at very high doses, effects on organ development, ossification and neonatal mortality, associated with maternotoxicity. Fertility reproductive performance and development of offspring were unaffected. Tramadol crosses the placenta. Male and female fertility was not affected.
Extensive investigations showed no evidence of a relevant genotoxic risk of paracetamol at therapeutic (i.e. non-toxic) doses.
Long-term studies in rats and mice yielded no evidence of relevant tumorigenic effects at non-hepatotoxic dosages of paracetamol.
Animal studies and extensive human experience to date yield no evidence of reproductive toxicity.
Any unused product or waste material should be disposed of in accordance with local requirements.