Morphine Sulfate Extended Release (Page 8 of 10)

12.3 Pharmacokinetics


Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets are an extended-release tablet containing morphine sulfate. Morphine is released from morphine sulfate extended-release tablets somewhat more slowly than from immediate-release oral preparations. Following oral administration of a given dose of morphine, the amount ultimately absorbed is essentially the same whether the source is morphine sulfate extended-release tablets or an immediate-release formulation. Because of pre-systemic elimination (i.e., metabolism in the gut wall and liver) only about 40% of the administered dose reaches the central compartment.

The oral bioavailability of morphine is approximately 20 to 40%. When morphine sulfate extended-release tablets are given on a fixed dosing regimen, steady-state is achieved in about a day.

Food Effect

The effect of food upon the systemic bioavailability of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets has not been systematically evaluated for all strengths. One study, conducted with the 30 mg morphine sulfate extended-release tablets, showed no significant differences in Cmax and AUC (0-24h) values, whether the tablet was taken while fasting or with a high-fat breakfast.


Once absorbed, morphine is distributed to skeletal muscle, kidneys, liver, intestinal tract, lungs, spleen, and brain. Morphine also crosses placental membranes and has been found in breast milk. The volume of distribution (Vd) for morphine is approximately 3 to 4 liters per kilogram and morphine is 30 to 35% reversibly bound to plasma proteins.



The major pathways of morphine metabolism include glucuronidation to produce metabolites including morphine-3-glucuronide, M3G (about 50%) and morphine-6-glucuronide, M6G (about 5 to 15%) and sulfation in the liver to produce morphine-3-etheral sulfate. A small fraction (less than 5%) of morphine is demethylated. M6G has been shown to have analgesic activity but crosses the blood-brain barrier poorly, while M3G has no significant analgesic activity.


The elimination of morphine occurs primarily as renal excretion of M3G and its effective half-life after intravenous administration is normally 2 to 4 hours. Approximately 10% of the dose is excreted unchanged in urine. In some studies involving longer periods of plasma sampling, a longer terminal half-life of about 15 hours was reported. A small amount of the glucuronide conjugate is excreted in the bile, and there is some minor enterohepatic recycling.

Specific Populations


A sex analysis of pharmacokinetic data from healthy subjects taking morphine sulfate extended-release tablets indicated that morphine concentrations were similar in males and females.


Chinese subjects given intravenous morphine had a higher clearance when compared to Caucasian subjects (1852 +/- 116 ml/min compared to 1495 +/- 80 ml/min).

Hepatic Impairment

Morphine pharmacokinetics are altered in patients with cirrhosis. Clearance was found to decrease with a corresponding increase in half-life. The M3G and M6G to morphine plasma AUC ratios also decreased in these patients, indicating diminished metabolic activity. Adequate studies of the pharmacokinetics of morphine in patients with severe hepatic impairment have not been conducted.

Renal Impairment

Morphine pharmacokinetics are altered in patients with renal failure. The AUC is increased, and clearance is decreased and the metabolites, M3G and M6G, may accumulate to much higher plasma levels in patients with renal failure as compared to patients with normal renal function. Adequate studies of the pharmacokinetics of morphine in patients with severe renal impairment have not been conducted.


13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility


Long-term studies in animals to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of morphine have not been conducted.


No formal studies to assess the mutagenic potential of morphine have been conducted.

In the published literature, morphine was found to be mutagenic in vitro increasing DNA fragmentation in human T-cells. Morphine was reported to be mutagenic in the in vivo mouse micronucleus assay and positive for the induction of chromosomal aberrations in mouse spermatids and murine lymphocytes. Mechanistic studies suggest that the in vivo clastogenic effects reported with morphine in mice may be related to increases in glucocorticoid levels produced by morphine in this species. In contrast to the above positive findings, in vitro studies in the literature have also shown that morphine did not induce chromosomal aberrations in human leukocytes or translocations or lethal mutations in Drosophila.

Impairment of Fertility

No formal nonclinical studies to assess the potential of morphine to impair fertility have been conducted. Several nonclinical studies from the literature have demonstrated adverse effects on male fertility in the rat from exposure to morphine. One study in which male rats were administered morphine sulfate subcutaneously prior to mating (up to 30 mg/kg twice daily) and during mating (20 mg/kg twice daily) with untreated females, a number of adverse reproductive effects including reduction in total pregnancies and higher incidence of pseudopregnancies at 20 mg/kg/day (3.2 times the HDD) were reported.

Studies from the literature have also reported changes in hormonal levels in male rats (i.e. testosterone, luteinizing hormone) following treatment with morphine at 10 mg/kg/day or greater (1.6 times the HDD).

Female rats that were administered morphine sulfate intraperitoneally prior to mating exhibited prolonged estrous cycles at 10 mg/kg/day (1.6 times the HDD).

Exposure of adolescent male rats to morphine has been associated with delayed sexual maturation and following mating to untreated females, smaller litters, increased pup mortality, and/or changes in reproductive endocrine status in adult male offspring have been reported (estimated 5 times the plasma levels at the HDD).


Morphine Sulfate Extended-Release Tablets are supplied as follows:

15 mg – round, blue-colored, film-coated tablet bearing the symbol ABG on one side and 15 on the other.

Bottles (opaque plastic) of 100 tablets NDC 42858-801-01

30 mg – round, lavender-colored, film-coated tablet bearing the symbol ABG on one side and 30 on the other.

Bottles (opaque plastic) of 100 tablets NDC 42858-802-01

60 mg – round, orange-colored, film-coated tablet bearing the symbol ABG on one side and 60 on the other.

Bottles (opaque plastic) of 100 tablets NDC 42858-803-01

100 mg – round, gray-colored, film-coated tablet bearing the symbol ABG on one side and 100 on the other.

Bottles (opaque plastic) of 100 tablets NDC 42858-804-01

200 mg – capsule-shaped, green-colored, film-coated tablet bearing the symbol ABG on one side and 200 on the other.

Bottles (opaque plastic) of 100 tablets NDC 42858-805-01

Store at 25°C (77°F); excursions permitted between 15° to 30°C (59° to 86°F) [see USP Controlled Room Temperature].

Store morphine sulfate extended-release tablets securely and dispose of properly [see Patient Counseling Information (17)].

Dispense in a tight, light-resistant container.

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