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Monitor such patients closely, particularly when initiating and titrating OxyContin and when OxyContin is given concomitantly with other drugs that depress respiration. Alternatively, consider the use of non-opioid analgesics in these patients.
Cases of adrenal insufficiency have been reported with opioid use, more often following greater than one month of use. 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.
OxyContin may cause severe hypotension including orthostatic hypotension and syncope in ambulatory patients. There is an increased risk in patients whose ability to maintain blood pressure has already been compromised by a reduced blood volume or after 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 OxyContin. In patients with circulatory shock, OxyContin may cause vasodilation that can further reduce cardiac output and blood pressure. Avoid the use of OxyContin in patients with circulatory shock.
Risks 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), OxyContin may reduce respiratory drive, and the resultant CO2 retention can further increase intracranial pressure. Monitor those patients for signs of sedation and respiratory depression, particularly when initiating therapy with OxyContin. Opioids may obscure the clinical course in a patient with a head injury. Avoid the use of OxyContin in patients with impaired consciousness or coma.
Difficulty in Swallowing and Risk for Obstruction in Patients at Risk for a Small Gastrointestinal Lumen
There have been post-marketing reports of difficulty swallowing OxyContin tablets. These reports include choking, gagging, regurgitation, and tablets stuck in the throat. Instruct patients not to pre-soak, lick or otherwise wet OxyContin tablets prior to placing in the mouth, and to take one tablet at a time with enough water to ensure complete swallowing immediately after placing in the mouth.
There have been rare post-marketing reports of cases of intestinal obstruction, and exacerbations of diverticulitis, some of which have required medical intervention to remove the tablet. Patients with underlying GI disorders such as esophageal cancer or colon cancer with a small gastrointestinal lumen are at greater risk of developing these complications. Consider use of an alternative analgesic in patients who have difficulty swallowing and patients at risk for underlying GI disorders resulting in a small gastrointestinal lumen.
Risks of Use in Patients with Gastrointestinal Conditions
OxyContin is contraindicated in patients with known or suspected gastrointestinal obstruction, including paralytic ileus. The oxycodone in OxyContin may cause spasm of the sphincter of Oddi. Opioids may cause increases in the serum amylase. Monitor patients with biliary tract disease, including acute pancreatitis.
Increased Risk of Seizures in Patients with Seizure Disorders
The oxycodone in OxyContin 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 OxyContin therapy.
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 OxyContin. In these patients, mixed agonist/antagonist and partial agonist analgesics may reduce the analgesic effect and/or may precipitate withdrawal symptoms. When discontinuing OxyContin, gradually taper the dosage. Do not abruptly discontinue OxyContin.
Risks of Driving and Operating Machinery
OxyContin 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 OxyContin and know how they will react to the medication.