Prescription Cough and Cold Products Containing Opioids and the Risk of Opioid Use Disorder in Children and Adolescents (< 18 years of age)

Starting date:
August 24, 2020
Posting date:
August 24, 2020
Type of communication:
Dear Healthcare Professional Letter
Subcategory:
Drugs
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Issue:
Important Safety Information, Supply
Audience:
Healthcare Professionals, Hospitals
Identification number:
RA-73741

Last updated:

Audience

Healthcare professionals including general practitioners, family physicians, pediatricians, pediatric respirologists, allergists, nurse practitioners and pharmacists.

Key messages

  • Prescription cough and cold products containing codeine, hydrocodone or normethadone are NOT indicated for use in children and adolescents (younger than 18 years of age) since:
    • there is a risk of opioid toxicity due to the variable and unpredictable metabolism of codeine or hydrocodone.
    • the benefits of symptomatic treatment of cough associated with allergies or the common cold do not outweigh the risks of use of opioids in these patients.
  • Healthcare professionals are being advised to:
    • avoid prescribing products containing opioids (codeine, hydrocodone, and normethadone) for treatment of cough and cold in patients younger than 18 years of age.
    • counsel patients and parents/caregivers that cough due to cold or upper respiratory infections is self-limited and generally does not need to be treated
    • use non-opioid alternatives in children and adolescents for whom cough treatment is necessary.
    • should the non-opioid alternatives fail, always counsel patients and caregivers/parents on the risks associated with opioid medications and use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration of time possible.
  • Health Canada continues to work with the manufacturers of affected prescription opioid-containing products to include this new safety information in their respective Canadian Product Monographs (CPMs).

    

Issue

In 2019, Health Canada published a summary of a safety review of opioid-containing products indicated for cough and cold, which found limited evidence to support the effectiveness of these products in children and adolescents (under 18 years of age).  The review also found limited evidence to link these products with opioid use disorders and related harms in children and adolescents (under 18 years of age). As a precautionary measure, Health Canada has now limited the use of opioid-containing products indicated for cough and cold for adults only (patients 18 years of age and older) and has notified manufacturers of these products to update the indication and other relevant sections of the CPMs to include this new safety information.

Products affected

DIN   Brand name and Dosage Form Medicinal Ingredient(s) and Strength(s)  Manufacturer
02224577 COPHYLAC DROPS

normethadone hydrochloride 10 mg/mL

p-hydroxyephedrine hydrochloride 20 mg/mL

Bausch Health, Canada Inc.
02324253 PDP-HYDROCODONE SYRUP hydrocodone bitartrate 5 mg/5 mL Pendopharm, a Division of Pharmascience Inc.
01934740 ROBITUSSIN AC SYRUP

codeine phosphate 10 mg/5 mL

guaifenesin 100 mg/5 mL

pheniramine maleate  7.5 mg/5 mL

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare ULC
02244079 DIMETANE EXPECTORANT C SYRUP

codeine phosphate 10 mg/5 mL

brompheniramine maleate 2 mg/5 mL

guaifenesin 100 mg/5 mL

phenylephrine hydrochloride 5 mg/5 mL

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare ULC
02244080 DIMETANE EXPECTORANT DC SYRUP

hydrocodone bitartrate      1.8 mg/5 mL

guaifenesin                      100 mg/5 mL

brompheniramine maleate    2 mg/5 mL

phenylephrine hydrochloride 5 mg/5 mL

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare ULC
02244078 DIMETAPP-C SYRUP

codeine phosphate             10 mg/5 mL

brompheniramine maleate    2 mg/5 mL

phenylephrine hydrochloride 5 mg/5 mL

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare ULC
02049481 NOVAHISTEX DH SYRUP

hydrocodone bitartrate    
5 mg/5 mL

phenylephrine hydrochloride 20 mg/5 mL

Sanofi-Aventis Canada Inc.
02049473 NOVAHISTINE DH SYRUP

hydrocodone bitartrate     1.7 mg/5 mL

phenylephrine hydrochloride 10 mg/5 mL

 

Sanofi-Aventis Canada Inc.
01916971 TUSSIONEX ORAL SUSPENSION

hydrocodone 5 mg/5 mL

phenyltoloxamine                10 mg/5 mL

Sanofi-Aventis Canada Inc.
02198630 CALMYLIN ACE SYRUP

codeine phosphate 10 mg/5 mL

guaifenesin 100 mg/5 mL

pheniramine maleate  
7.5 mg/5 mL

Teva Canada Limited
02169126 TEVA-COTRIDIN SYRUP

codeine phosphate       
10 mg/5 mL

pseudoephedrine hydrochloride 30 mg/5 mL

triprolidine hydrochloride 2mg/5 mL

Teva Canada Limited
02053403 TEVA-COTRIDIN EXPECTORANT SYRUP

codeine phosphate       
10 mg/5 mL

pseudoephedrine hydrochloride 30 mg/5 mL

triprolidine hydrochloride 2mg/5 mL

guaifenesin 100 mg/5 mL

Teva Canada Limited
00593435 TEVA-CODEINE TABLETS codeine phosphate       
15mg
Teva Canada Limited
00593451 TEVA-CODEINE TABLETS codeine phosphate       
30mg
Teva Canada Limited
00608882 TEVA-EMTEC-30
TABLETS

codeine phosphate 30mg

acetaminophen 300mg

Teva Canada Limited
00380571 LINCTUS CODEINE BLANC
ORAL SOLUTION
codeine phosphate       
10 mg/5 mL
Laboratoire Atlas Inc.
00544884 CODEINE PHOSPHATE INJECTION USP codeine phosphate 30mg/mL Sandoz Canada Incorporated
02009757 CODEINE 30
TABLETS
codeine phosphate 30mg Laboratoire Riva Inc.
02230769 DALMACOL SYRUP

hydrocodone bitartrate    1.65 mg/5 mL

etafedrin hydrochloride   16.65 mg/5 mL

sodium citrate                200 mg/5 mL

alcohol anhydrous           0.25 mL/5 mL

doxylamine succinate      
6 mg/5 mL

Laboratoire Riva Inc.
00789828 TRIATEC-30
TABLETS

codeine phosphate 30mg

acetaminophen 300mg

Laboratoire Riva Inc.
02243063 COVAN SYRUP

triprolidine hydrochloride 2mg/5mL

pseudoephedrine hydrochloride 30mg/5mL

codeine phosphate 10mg/5mL

Pharmascience Inc.

Background information

Currently in Canada, codeine-containing products have been authorized to relieve pain or supress cough, while products containing hydrocodone and normethadone have been authorized for cough suppression only.

Following a safety review of cough and cold products containing opioids (codeine, hydrocodone and normethadone), Health Canada issued a risk communication on February 18, 2019 recommending children and adolescents (under 18 years of age) not to use cough and cold products that contain opioids. The prescription codeine-containing products indicated for pain relief were not in scope of this specific safety review completed by Health Canada at that time.

While the review did not find any strong evidence linking cough and cold products that contain opioids with opioid use disorders in children and adolescents, it did find that the early use of opioids may be a factor in problematic substance use later in life. The review also found limited evidence to support the effectiveness of these products in children and adolescents (under 18 years of age). Literature suggests that adolescents are at a greater risk of problematic opioid use and overdose, while younger children are at a greater risk of accidental poisoning.

As part of the Government of Canada’s ongoing comprehensive strategy to increase awareness and reduce the harms of opioids for Canadians, Health Canada has required the labelling of prescription cough and cold containing opioids to be updated, and continues to work with manufacturers to include enhanced information about the product’s risks and limit the use of these products for adults only (≥18 years old). Labelling for non-prescription products containing low-dose codeine to treat cough and cold has also been required to be updated with this safety information.

Who is affected

Information for consumers

Cough and cold products containing opioids should not be used in patients younger than 18 years of age. This includes prescription cough and cold products that contain codeine, hydrocodone or normethadone.

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to discuss with their healthcare professionals about the need to treat cough and possible cough treatment alternatives, other than products containing opioids, for children or adolescents (under 18 years of age).

Patients should discuss any questions or concerns about this information with their healthcare professional.

Information for healthcare professionals

Healthcare professionals are being advised that:

  • Prescription cough and cold products containing opioids are no longer indicated in patients younger than 18 years of age since:
    • there is a risk of opioid toxicity due to the variable and unpredictable metabolism of codeine or hydrocodone; and
    • the benefits of symptomatic treatment of cough associated with allergies or the common cold do not outweigh the risks of use of opioids in these patients.
  • Parents should be advised that cough due to cold or upper respiratory infections is self-limited and generally does not need to be treated.
  • For those children and adolescents requiring cough treatment, non-opioid alternatives are available.
  • Should the non-opioid alternatives fail, always advise patients and parents/caregivers of the risks associated with opioid medications and use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration of time possible.

Action taken by Health Canada

Health Canada continues to work with respective manufacturers to update the labelling of prescription cough and cold products containing opioids to include the restriction of the indication to adults only (≥18 years old).

Health Canada is communicating this important safety information to healthcare professionals and Canadians via the Recalls and Safety Alerts Database on the Healthy Canadians Web Site. This communication update will be further distributed through the MedEffect™ e-Notice email notification system, as well as through social media channels, including LinkedIn and Twitter.

Report health or safety concerns

Health Canada’s ability to monitor the safety of marketed health products depends on healthcare professionals and consumers reporting adverse reactions and medical device incidents. Any case of serious or unexpected side effects in patients receiving cough and cold products containing codeine, hydrocodone or normethadone should be reported to the respective manufacturer or Health Canada.

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare ULC
Mississauga, ON
1-888-275-9938

Laboratoire Riva Inc.
Blainville, Québec
1-800-363-7988

Teva Canada Ltd.
Toronto, Ontario
1-800-268-4127, option 3

Sanofi-aventis Canada Inc.
Laval, Quebec,
1-800-265-7927

Pharmascience Inc. and Pendopharm, a Division of Pharmascience
Montreal, Quebec
1-888-550-6060

Laboratoire Atlas Inc,
Anjou, Quebec
514-254-7188

Sandoz Canada Inc.
110, rue de Lauzon
Boucherville, Quebec
1-800-343-8839

Bausch Health, Canada Inc.
2150 boulevard St-Elzéar ouest West
Laval, Québec H7L 4A8
1-800-361-4261

To correct your mailing address or fax number, contact one of the companies listed above.

You can report any suspected adverse reactions associated with the use of health products to Health Canada by:

  • Calling toll-free at 1-866-234-2345; or
  • Visiting MedEffect Canada's Web page on Adverse Reaction Reporting for information on how to report online, by mail or by fax.

For other health product inquiries related to this communication, contact Health Canada at:

Marketed Health Products Directorate (MHPD)
E-mail: mhpd-dpsc@canada.ca
Telephone: 613-954-6522
Fax: 613-952-7738

Original signed by

Christopher Kocun, MD, MBA
Chief Medical Officer
GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare ULC

Olivier St-Denis
President
Laboratoire Riva Inc.

Didier Reymond, MD
Country Medical Director
Teva Canada Ltd.

Sophia Kajla
Medical Head, General Medicines
sanofi-aventis Canada Inc.

Brian des Islet, PhD
Vice-President Scientific Affairs
Pharmascience Inc.
Pendopharm, a Division of Pharmascience Inc.

Jean Noory
QC director
Laboratoire Atlas Inc.

Mauricio Ede
Chief Medical and Scientific Officer
Sandoz Canada Inc.

Tibor Kapusy, MD
Director, Regulatory Affairs
Bausch Health, Canada Inc.