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What should I know about Opana ER before taking it?

The pain medication Opana ER (oxymorphone) is a powerful, extended-release, narcotic drug. It is prescribed to treat continuous, moderate to severe pain such as chronic back pain or pain caused by cancer. Here are important warnings you should know about before taking it:
  • Breathing problems. Opana ER blocks your body's perception of pain by suppressing your central nervous system. Because the central nervous system also controls respiration, Opana ER can interfere with normal breathing and even cause you to stop breathing. For that reason, you shouldn’t use Opana ER if you already have a lung condition, such as asthma or chronic pulmonary obstruction disease (COPD). You are most likely to develop breathing problems from Opana ER when you first start to take it or right after your doctor increases your dose. Get medical attention immediately if you experience these or any other unusual symptoms while taking Opana ER: slow or shallow breathing, feeling faint, confusion and dizziness.
  • Abuse potential. It’s possible to become addicted to Opana ER while taking a standard dose. You are at higher risk for this danger if you or a family member has a history of mental illness or of abusing alcohol or drugs (prescription or illicit). Discuss any pertinent information about your history with your doctor. If you're at risk for abusing Opana, you should be carefully monitored while taking it.
  • Overdose danger. Always swallow your pills whole. Opana ER is formulated to release its active ingredient over 12 hours. If you crush, chew or dissolve Opana ER, you can release the entire dose into your system at once, which could cause a fatal overdose.
  • Interaction with alcohol. Opana ER contains a black-box warning about drinking alcohol or taking any medication that contains alcohol. Alcohol can cause your body to absorb Opana ER too rapidly and release extremely high amounts into your bloodstream. The result could be a deadly overdose.
  • Drowsiness. Because Opana ER can make you drowsy, don't drive or operate heavy machinery until you're certain you can remain alert. (Be extra cautious when you start the medication or increase your dosage.)
  • Threat to children. The standard warning to keep your medication away from others is especially important with powerful drugs like Opana ER. One pill can kill a child.
  • Drug interactions. Before taking it, give your doctor a complete list of all medicines (prescription and nonprescription) and dietary supplements you take.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.