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Codeine Extended-Release - Oral

Pronunciation: KOE-deen

Common Brand Name(s): Codeine Contin

Important: How To Use This Information

This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.

Warning

Codeine has a risk for abuse and addiction, which can lead to overdose and death. Codeine may also cause severe, possibly fatal, breathing problems. To lower your risk, your doctor should have you take the smallest dose of codeine that works, and take it for the shortest possible time. See also How to Use section for more information about addiction.

The risk for severe breathing problems is higher when you start this medication and after a dose increase, or if you take the wrong dose/strength. Taking this medication with alcohol or other drugs that can cause drowsiness or breathing problems may cause very serious side effects, including death. Also, other medications can affect the removal of codeine from your body, which may affect how codeine works. Be sure you know how to take codeine and what other drugs you should avoid taking with it. See also Drug Interactions section. Get medical help right away if any of these very serious side effects occur: slow/shallow breathing, unusual lightheadedness, severe drowsiness/dizziness, difficulty waking up.

Keep this medicine in a safe place to prevent theft, misuse, or abuse. If someone accidentally swallows this drug, get medical help right away.

Before using this medication, women of childbearing age should talk with their doctor(s) about the risks and benefits. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or if you plan to become pregnant. During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. It may slightly increase the risk of birth defects if used during the first two months of pregnancy. Also, using it for a long time or in high doses near the expected delivery date may harm the unborn baby. To lessen the risk, take the smallest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Babies born to mothers who use this drug for a long time may develop severe (possibly fatal) withdrawal symptoms. Tell the doctor right away if you notice any symptoms in your newborn baby such as crying that doesn't stop, slow/shallow breathing, irritability, shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, poor feeding, or difficulty gaining weight.

Children younger than 12 years should not use products that contain codeine. Children between 12 and 18 years old should not use codeine after certain surgeries (including tonsil/adenoid removal). Also, codeine use is not recommended for children between 12 and 18 years old who are obese or have breathing problems. Some children are more sensitive to codeine and have had very serious (rarely fatal) breathing problems such as slow/shallow breathing (see also Side Effects section). Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the risks and benefits of this medication.

Uses

See also Warning section.

Codeine extended-release is a long-acting medication used to help relieve mild to moderate pain. Codeine belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid (narcotic) analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.

Do not use the extended-release form of codeine to relieve pain that will go away in a few days. This medication is not for occasional ("as needed") use.

How To Use

Read the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start taking this medication and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Take this medication by mouth on a regular schedule as directed by your doctor, usually every 12 hours, but not as needed for sudden (breakthrough) pain. Do not crush, chew, or dissolve extended-release tablets. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects. Also, do not split the tablets unless they have a score line and your doctor or pharmacist tells you to do so. Swallow the whole or split tablet without crushing, chewing, or dissolving.

You may take this drug with or without food. If you have nausea, it may help to take this drug with food. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about other ways to decrease nausea (such as lying down for 1 to 2 hours with as little head movement as possible).

The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed, because your risk of side effects may increase. Properly stop the medication when so directed.

Before you start using this medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you should stop or change how you use your other opioid medication(s). Other pain relievers (such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen) may also be prescribed. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using codeine safely with other drugs.

This medication may cause withdrawal reactions, especially if it has been used regularly for a long time or in high doses. In such cases, withdrawal symptoms (such as restlessness, watering eyes, runny nose, nausea, sweating, muscle aches) may occur if you suddenly stop using this medication. To prevent withdrawal reactions, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details, and report any withdrawal reactions right away.

When this medication is used for a long time, it may not work as well. Talk with your doctor if this medication stops working well.

Though it helps many people, this medication may sometimes cause addiction. This risk may be higher if you have a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol). Take this medication exactly as prescribed to lower the risk of addiction. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

Tell your doctor if your pain persists or worsens.

Side Effects

See also Warning section.

Nausea, vomiting, constipation, lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, or sweating may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

To prevent constipation, eat dietary fiber, drink enough water, and exercise. You may also need to take a laxative. Ask your pharmacist which type of laxative is right for you.

To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:

  • mental/mood changes (such as agitation, depression, hallucinations)
  • stomach/abdominal pain
  • difficulty urinating
  • fast/slow heartbeat
  • vision changes
  • signs of your adrenal glands not working well (such as loss of appetite, unusual tiredness, weight loss)

Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including:

  • fainting
  • seizure

Codeine is changed into a strong opioid drug (morphine) in your body. In some people, this change happens faster and more completely than usual, which increases the risk of very serious side effects. Get medical help right away if you notice any of the following:

  • slow/shallow breathing
  • severe drowsiness/difficulty waking up
  • confusion

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:

  • rash
  • itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
  • severe dizziness
  • trouble breathing

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

In the US -

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.

In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

Precautions

Before taking codeine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other opioid pain medications (such as morphine); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of:

  • brain disorders (such as head injury, tumor, seizures)
  • breathing problems (such as asthma, sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD)
  • gallbladder disease
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • mental/mood disorders (such as confusion, depression, thoughts of suicide)
  • personal or family history of a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol)
  • obesity
  • stomach/intestinal problems (such as blockage, constipation, diarrhea due to infection, paralytic ileus)
  • disease of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • difficulty urinating (such as due to enlarged prostate)

This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).

Some children may be more sensitive to very serious side effects of codeine, such as extreme sleepiness, confusion, or slow/shallow/noisy breathing. (See also Warning section.)

Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, and slow/shallow breathing.

During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. It may harm an unborn baby. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. (See also Warning section.)

This medication passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant, such as unusual sleepiness, difficulty feeding, trouble breathing, or unusual limpness. Breast-feeding while using this drug is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Drug Interactions

See also Warning section.

Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.

Some products that may interact with this drug include:

  • certain pain medications (mixed opioid agonist-antagonists such as pentazocine, nalbuphine, butorphanol)
  • naltrexone

The risk of serious side effects (such as slow/shallow breathing, severe drowsiness/dizziness) may be increased if this medication is taken with other products that may also cause drowsiness or breathing problems. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products such as other opioid pain or cough relievers (such as morphine, hydrocodone), alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), drugs for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, lorazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants (such as carisoprodol, cyclobenzaprine), or antihistamines (such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine).

Check the labels on all your medicines (such as allergy or cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely.

Other medications can affect the removal of codeine from your body, which may affect how codeine works. Examples include azole antifungals (such as ketoconazole), bupropion, fluoxetine, macrolide antibiotics (such as erythromycin), HIV medications (such as ritonavir), paroxetine, quinidine, rifamycins (such as rifabutin, rifampin), certain drugs used to treat seizures (such as carbamazepine, phenytoin), among others.

This medication may interfere with certain laboratory tests (including amylase/lipase levels), possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use this drug.

Overdose

If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, give them naloxone if available, then call 911. If the person is awake and has no symptoms, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Alberta residents can call PADIS (Poison and Drug Information Service) 24 hours a day at 1-800-332-1414. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: slow/shallow breathing, slow heartbeat, severe drowsiness, coma.

Notes

Do not share this medication with others. Sharing it is against the law.

This medication has been prescribed for your current condition only. Do not use it later for another condition unless your doctor directs you to do so. A different medication may be necessary in that case.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you should have naloxone available to treat opioid overdose. Teach your family or household members about the signs of an opioid overdose and how to treat it.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose. Take your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up.

Alberta residents can call PADIS (Poison and Drug Information Service) 24 hours a day at 1-800-332-1414 for additional advice on missed doses.

Storage

Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.

Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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