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Tussicaps Extended-Release (Hydrocodone Polistirex / Chlorpheniramine Polistirex) - Warnings and Precautions



Respiratory Depression – As with all narcotics, TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules produce dose-related respiratory depression by directly acting on brain stem respiratory centers. Hydrocodone affects the center that controls respiratory rhythm, and may produce irregular and periodic breathing. Caution should be exercised when TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules are used postoperatively and in patients with pulmonary disease, or whenever ventilatory function is depressed. If respiratory depression occurs, it may be antagonized by the use of naloxone hydrochloride and other supportive measures when indicated (see OVERDOSAGE).

Head Injury and Increased Intracranial Pressure – The respiratory depressant effects of narcotics and their capacity to elevate cerebrospinal fluid pressure may be markedly exaggerated in the presence of head injury, other intracranial lesions, or a pre-existing increase in intracranial pressure. Furthermore, narcotics produce adverse reactions, which may obscure the clinical course of patients with head injuries.

Acute Abdominal Conditions – The administration of narcotics may obscure the diagnosis or clinical course of patients with acute abdominal conditions.

Obstructive Bowel Disease – Chronic use of narcotics may result in obstructive bowel disease especially in patients with underlying intestinal motility disorder.

Pediatric Use – The use of TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules are contraindicated in children less than 6 years of age (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).

In pediatric patients, as well as adults, the respiratory center is sensitive to the depressant action of narcotic cough suppressants in a dose-dependent manner. Caution should be exercised when administering TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules to pediatric patients 6 years of age and older. Overdose or concomitant administration of TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules with other respiratory depressants may increase the risk of respiratory depression in pediatric patients. Benefit to risk ratio should be carefully considered, especially in pediatric patients with respiratory embarrassment (e.g., croup) (see PRECAUTIONS).



Caution is advised when prescribing this drug to patients with narrow-angle glaucoma, asthma, or prostatic hypertrophy.

Special Risk Patients – As with any narcotic agent, TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules should be used with caution in elderly or debilitated patients and those with severe impairment of hepatic or renal function, hypothyroidism, Addison's disease, prostatic hypertrophy, or urethral stricture. The usual precautions should be observed and the possibility of respiratory depression should be kept in mind.

Information for Patients

As with all narcotics, TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules may produce marked drowsiness and impair the mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery; patients should be cautioned accordingly. TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules must not be diluted with fluids or mixed with other drugs as this may alter the resin-binding and change the absorption rate, possibly increasing the toxicity.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Cough Reflex – Hydrocodone suppresses the cough reflex; as with all narcotics, caution should be exercised when TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules are used postoperatively, and in patients with pulmonary disease.

Drug Interactions

Patients receiving narcotics, antihistamines, antipsychotics, antianxiety agents, or other CNS depressants (including alcohol) concomitantly with TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules may exhibit an additive CNS depression. When combined therapy is contemplated, the dose of one or both agents should be reduced.

The use of MAO inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants with hydrocodone preparations may increase the effect of either the antidepressant or hydrocodone.

The concurrent use of other anticholinergics with hydrocodone may produce paralytic ileus.

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, and reproductive studies have not been conducted with TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules.


Teratogenic Effects. Pregnancy Category C – Hydrocodone has been shown to be teratogenic in hamsters when given in doses 700 times the human dose. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Nonteratogenic Effects – Babies born to mothers who have been taking opioids regularly prior to delivery will be physically dependent. The withdrawal signs include irritability and excessive crying, tremors, hyperactive reflexes, increased respiratory rate, increased stools, sneezing, yawning, vomiting, and fever. The intensity of the syndrome does not always correlate with the duration of maternal opioid use or dose.

Labor and Delivery

As with all narcotics, administration of TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules to the mother shortly before delivery may result in some degree of respiratory depression in the newborn, especially if higher doses are used.

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use

The use of TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules are contraindicated in children less than 6 years of age (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS, Respiratory, Thoracic and Mediastinal Disorders).

TussiCaps™ extended-release capsules should be used with caution in pediatric patients 6 years of age and older (see WARNINGS, Pediatric Use).

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of hydrocodone polistirex and chlorpheniramine polistirex extended-release did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.

This drug is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of toxic reactions to this drug may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection, and it may be useful to monitor renal function.

Page last updated: 2008-05-12

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