Morphine is present in breast milk. Published lactation studies report variable concentrations of morphine in breast milk with administration of immediate-release morphine to nursing mothers in the early postpartum period with a milk-to-plasma morphine AUC ratio of 2.5:1 measured in one lactation study. However, there is insufficient information to determine the effects of morphine on the breastfed infant and the effects of morphine on milk production. Lactation studies have not been conducted with extended–release morphine, including morphine sulfate extended-release tablets. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions, including excess sedation and respiratory depression in a breastfed infant, advise patients that breastfeeding is not recommended during treatment with morphine sulfate extended-release tablets.
Monitor infants exposed to morphine sulfate extended-release tablets through breast milk for excess sedation and respiratory depression. Withdrawal symptoms can occur in breastfed infants when maternal administration of an opioid analgesic is stopped, or when breastfeeding is stopped.
Chronic use of opioids may cause reduced fertility in females and males of reproductive potential. It is not known whether these effects on fertility are reversible [see Adverse Reactions (6.2), Clinical Pharmacology (12.2)].
In published animal studies, morphine administration adversely effected fertility and reproductive endpoints in male rats and prolonged estrus cycle in female rats [see Nonclinical Toxicology (13) ].
The safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients below the age of 18 have not been established.
The pharmacokinetics of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets have not been studied in elderly patients. Clinical studies of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects.
Elderly patients (aged 65 years or older) may have increased sensitivity to morphine. In general, use caution when selecting a dosage for an elderly patient, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.
Respiratory depression is the chief risk for elderly patients treated with opioids, and has occurred after large initial doses were administered to patients who were not opioid-tolerant or when opioids were co-administered with other agents that depress respiration. Titrate the dosage of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets slowly in geriatric patients and monitor closely for signs of central nervous system and respiratory depression [see Warnings and Precautions (5.6)].
Morphine is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of adverse reactions to this drug may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection, and it may be useful to monitor renal function.
Morphine pharmacokinetics have been reported to be significantly altered in patients with cirrhosis. Start these patients with a lower than usual dosage of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets and titrate slowly while monitoring for signs of respiratory depression, sedation, and hypotension [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].
Morphine pharmacokinetics are altered in patients with renal failure. Start these patients with a lower than usual dosage of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets and titrate slowly while monitoring for signs of respiratory depression, sedation, and hypotension [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].
Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets contain morphine, a Schedule II controlled substance.
Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets contains morphine, a substance with a high potential for abuse similar to other opioids including fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and tapentadol. Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets can be abused and are subject to misuse, addiction, and criminal diversion [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].
The high drug content in extended-release formulations adds to the risk of adverse outcomes from abuse and misuse.
All patients treated with opioids require careful monitoring for signs of abuse and addiction, because use of opioid analgesic products carries the risk of addiction even under appropriate medical use.
Prescription drug abuse is the intentional non-therapeutic use of an over-the-counter or prescription drug, even once, for its rewarding psychological or physiological effects. Drug addiction is a cluster of behavioral, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated substance use and includes: a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal.
“Drug-seeking” behavior is very common in persons with substance use disorders. Drug-seeking tactics include emergency calls or visits near the end of office hours, refusal to undergo appropriate examination, testing, or referral, repeated “loss” of prescriptions, tampering with prescriptions and reluctance to provide prior medical records or contact information for other healthcare provider(s). “Doctor shopping” (visiting multiple prescribers to obtain additional prescriptions) is common among drug abusers and people suffering from untreated addiction. Preoccupation with achieving adequate pain relief can be appropriate behavior in a patient with poor pain control.
Abuse and addiction are separate and distinct from physical dependence and tolerance. Healthcare providers should be aware that addiction may not be accompanied by concurrent tolerance and symptoms of physical dependence in all addicts. In addition, abuse of opioids can occur in the absence of true addiction.
Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets, like other opioids, can be diverted for non-medical use into illicit channels of distribution. Careful record-keeping of prescribing information, including quantity, frequency, and renewal requests, as required by state and federal law, is strongly advised.
Proper assessment of the patient, proper prescribing practices, periodic re-evaluation of therapy, and proper dispensing and storage are appropriate measures that help to limit abuse of opioid drugs.
Risks Specific to Abuse of Morphine Sulfate Extended-Release Tablets
Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets are for oral use only. Abuse of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets poses a risk of overdose and death. This risk is increased with concurrent abuse of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets with alcohol and other central nervous system depressants. Taking cut, broken, chewed, crushed, or dissolved morphine sulfate extended-release tablets enhances drug release and increases the risk of overdose and death.
Due to the presence of talc as one of the excipients in morphine sulfate extended-release tablets, parenteral abuse can be expected to result in local tissue necrosis, infection, pulmonary granulomas, embolism and death, and increased risk of endocarditis and valvular heart injury. Parenteral drug abuse is commonly associated with transmission of infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.
Both tolerance and physical dependence can develop during chronic opioid therapy. Tolerance is the need for increasing doses of opioids to maintain a defined effect such as analgesia (in the absence of disease progression or other external factors). Tolerance may occur to both the desired and undesired effects of drugs, and may develop at different rates for different effects.
Physical dependence is a physiological state in which the body adapts to the drug after a period of regular exposure, resulting in withdrawal symptoms after abrupt discontinuation or a significant dosage reduction of a drug. Withdrawal also may be precipitated through the administration of drugs with opioid antagonist activity, (e.g., naloxone, nalmefene), mixed agonist/antagonist analgesics (e.g., pentazocine, butorphanol, nalbuphine), or partial agonists (e.g., buprenorphine). Physical dependence may not occur to a clinically significant degree until after several days to weeks of continued opioid usage.
Do not abruptly discontinue morphine sulfate extended-release tablets in a patient physically dependent on opioids. Rapid tapering of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets in a patient physically dependent on opioids may lead to serious withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled pain, and suicide. Rapid discontinuation has also been associated with attempts to find other sources of opioid analgesics, which may be confused with drug-seeking for abuse.
When discontinuing morphine sulfate extended-release tablets, gradually taper the dosage using a patient-specific plan that considers the following: the dose of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets the patient has been taking, the duration of treatment, and the physical and psychological attributes of the patient. To improve the likelihood of a successful taper and minimize withdrawal symptoms, it is important that the opioid tapering schedule is agreed upon by the patient. In patients taking opioids for a long duration at high doses, ensure that a multimodal approach to pain management, including mental health support (if needed), is in place prior to initiating an opioid analgesic taper [see Dosage and Administration (2.6), Warnings and Precautions (5.13)].
Infants born to mothers physically dependent on opioids will also be physically dependent and may exhibit respiratory difficulties and withdrawal signs [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1)].
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