The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued its strongest warnings that prescription opioids and benzodiazapines pose major risks to users, especially if they are taken together or in combination with alcohol.
In a notice published at http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm518473.htm, the FDA told health care professionals to stop prescribing opioid cough medicines for patients taking benzodiazapines — or other depressants of the Central Nervous System (CNS) including alcohol. They should prescribe opioids for pain only when other treatment options are inadequate.
Opioids — such as codeine, hydrocodone (HYSLINGA, NORCO, ZOHYDRO) and oxycodone (OXYCONTIN) — are widely prescribed for pain and cough. Benzodiazepines — such as diazepam (VALIUM) and alprazolam (XANAX) — are often used for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and sleep problems.
Combinations of these drugs can cause extreme sleepiness, slowed or difficult breathing, coma, and death, the FDA said. Get details at the web site, and be sure to scroll down and click up several additional pages which explain the risks and list the dozens of opioids and benzodiazapines on the market.
The FDA said it now requires black-box warnings — its strongest warnings — on the dangers of combining opioid pain medications with benzodiazepines. Public Citizen’s Health Research Group lists most opioids as “Limited Use,” noting that they are overprescribed and can be addictive. They list most benzodiazepines as “Do Not Use,” with the exception of alprazolam, which is Do Not Use except for panic disorder.