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Codeine Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy Legal Information Center

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned the public that the opiate painkiller codeine might cause death in children who use the drug after undergoing surgery to remove their tonsils or adenoids to treat obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

What Is Codeine? When Is It Prescribed?

Codeine is an opiate painkiller drug that was first isolated in the 1830s. It is prescribed for a wide variety of conditions, such as relieving coughs and treating diarrhea. Upon ingestion, the liver converts codeine into morphine. Codeine is one of the most commonly-prescribed painkillers in the United States. The FDA states that in 2011 about 1.7 million people under the age of 18 received a prescription for the drug.

Codeine Might Cause Deadly Side Effects in Children After Surgery

The FDA believes that codeine can cause death in children who undergo medical procedures to remove tonsils (tonsillectomy) and adenoids (adenoidectomies). The agency issued a drug safety communication in August 2012 stating that it was investigating cases of children who had had such procedures to treat obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and died. The FDA found that some people have an inherited, genetic tendency to convert codeine into life-threatening amounts compared to others, calling the former “ultra-rapid metabolizers.”

After surveying the available data, in February 2013 the FDA issued a second drug safety communication, advising the public that it was requiring a new boxed warning on codeine products for use in children who undergo tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies. The agency also contraindicated codeine for pediatric patients who have surgery to treat obstructive sleep apnea syndrome because it is difficult to establish before treatment whether a child is an ultra-rapid metabolizer of codeine.

According to the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System, between 1969 and 2012 there were 13 cases of pediatric death (10) and overdose (3) brought on by codeine use after a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy. There were seven other cases in the medical literature. Most of the children received normal doses of codeine, suggesting they were ultra-rapid metabolizers.

RLG’s Lawyers Will Make Things Easier

The process of demanding compensation for the harm you’ve suffered can be complicated, even if it doesn’t seem fair that you should have to go through even more trouble to be made whole again. The lawyers of the Rottenstein Law Group believe that obtaining legal satisfaction from those who harmed you shouldn’t require more hardship. That’s why we do everything we can to streamline the process, and we will file a codeine lawsuit on your behalf if necessary.

If your child took codeine after having his or her tonsils or adenoids removed to treat obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, and you believe it caused an injury, contact RLG today.

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