FDA warns on mixing opioid addiction treatments, other meds

The Food and Drug Administration issued new warnings Wednesday about the dangers of combining medication for opioid addiction with anti-anxiety medicines and other drugs that also slow breathing and brain activity.

The FDA warned that mixing such drugs can cause difficulty breathing, coma or death, so it should be done with caution.

The agency said a growing number of people fighting opioid addiction with methadone or buprenorphine also take other prescription drugs that slow action of the central nervous system. The warning lists several dozen brand-name and generic drugs that could be risky, including Ambien and Lunesta for insomnia, Valium and Xanax for anxiety, muscle relaxers Soma and Zanaflex and antipsychotic drugs Abilify, Invega, Saphris and others.

The agency stressed that treating opioid addiction with medication can outweigh those risks and is crucial to curbing the U.S. opioid epidemic, along with counseling, rehabilitation and other support.

“Careful management of the patient and coordination of care is recommended,” rather than denying use of methadone or buprenorphine, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote in a statement issued with the warning.

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