In response to a growing concern about opioid use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning in March about prescription pain medications. The agency issued new guidelines for labeling to highlight risks associated with the use of certain drugs, including opioids.
- Opioids can interact with antidepressants and migraine medicines to cause a serious central nervous system reaction called serotonin syndrome, in which high levels of the chemical serotonin build up in the brain and cause toxicity.
- Taking opioids may lead to a rare, but serious condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce adequate amounts of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol helps the body respond to stress.
- Long-term use of opioids may be associated with decreased sex hormone levels and symptoms such as reduced interest in sex, impotence, or infertility.
The FDA is concerned about certain medications and opioids, and it has asked for assistance from healthcare professionals and patients to its MedWatch program.