(a) Sulfites are chemical substances that are added to certain drug products to inhibit the oxidation of the active drug ingredient. Oxidation of the active drug ingredient may result in instability and a loss of potency of the drug product. Examples of specific sulfites used to inhibit this oxidation process include sodium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, sodium sulfite, potassium bisulfite, and potassium metabisulfite. Recent studies have demonstrated that sulfites may cause allergic-type reactions in certain susceptible persons, especially asthmatics. The labeling for any prescription drug product to which sulfites have been added as an inactive ingredient, regardless of the amount added, must bear the warning specified in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section.
(b) The labeling required by §§ 201.57 and 201.100(d) for prescription drugs for human use containing a sulfite, except epinephrine for injection when intended for use in allergic or other emergency situations, shall bear the warning statement “Contains (insert the name of the sulfite, e.g., sodium metabisulfite), a sulfite that may cause allergic-type reactions including anaphylactic symptoms and life-threatening or less severe asthmatic episodes in certain susceptible people. The overall prevalence of sulfite sensitivity in the general population is unknown and probably low. Sulfite sensitivity is seen more frequently in asthmatic than in nonasthmatic people.” This statement shall appear in the “Warnings” section of the labeling.
(c) The labeling required by §§ 201.57 and 201.100(d) for sulfite-containing epinephrine for injection for use in allergic emergency situations shall bear the warning statement “Epinephrine is the preferred treatment for serious allergic or other emergency situations even though this product contains (insert the name of the sulfite, e.g., sodium metabisulfite), a sulfite that may in other products cause allergic-type reactions including anaphylactic symptoms or life-threatening or less severe asthmatic episodes in certain susceptible persons. The alternatives to using epinephrine in a life-threatening situation may not be satisfactory. The presence of a sulfite(s) in this product should not deter administration of the drug for treatment of serious allergic or other emergency situations.” This statement shall appear in the “Warnings” section of the labeling.
[51 FR 43904, Dec. 5, 1986]