Individually titrate morphine sulfate extended-release tablets to a dose that provides adequate analgesia and minimizes adverse reactions. Continually reevaluate patients receiving morphine sulfate extended-release tablets to assess the maintenance of pain control and the relative incidence of adverse reactions, as well as monitoring for the development of addiction, abuse, or misuse [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)]. Frequent communication is important among the prescriber, other members of the healthcare team, the patient, and the caregiver/family during periods of changing analgesic requirements, including initial titration. During chronic therapy periodically reassess the continued need for the use of opioid analgesics.
Patients who experience breakthrough pain may require a dosage adjustment of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets, or may need rescue medication with an appropriate dose of an immediate-release analgesic. If the level of pain increases after dose stabilization, attempt to identify the source of increased pain before increasing the morphine sulfate extended-release tablets dosage. Because steady-state plasma concentrations are approximated in 1 day, morphine sulfate extended-release tablets dosage adjustments may be done every 1 to 2 days.
If unacceptable opioid-related adverse reactions are observed, consider reducing the dosage. Adjust the dosage to obtain an appropriate balance between management of pain and opioid-related adverse reactions.
If the patient is currently taking a central nervous system (CNS) depressant and the decision is made to begin morphine sulfate extended-release tablets, start with the lowest possible dose, 15 mg every 12 hours, monitor patients for signs of respiratory depression, sedation, and hypotension, and consider using a lower dosage of the concomitant CNS depressant [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5), Drug Interactions (7)].
Do not abruptly discontinue morphine sulfate extended-release tablets in patients who may be physically dependent on opioids. Rapid discontinuation of opioid analgesics in patients who are physically dependent on opioids has resulted in 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. Patients may also attempt to treat their pain or withdrawal symptoms with illicit opioids, such as heroin, and other substances.
When a decision has been made to decrease the dose or discontinue therapy in an opioid dependent patient taking morphine sulfate extended-release tablets, there are a variety of factors that should be considered, including the dose of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets the patient has been taking, the duration of treatment, the type of pain being treated, and the physical and psychological attributes of the patient. It is important to ensure ongoing care of the patient and to agree on an appropriate tapering schedule and follow-up plan so that patient and provider goals and expectations are clear and realistic. When opioid analgesics are being discontinued due to a suspected substance use disorder, evaluate, and treat the patient, or refer for evaluation and treatment of the substance use disorder. Treatment should include evidence-based approaches, such as medication assisted treatment of opioid use disorder. Complex patients with co-morbid pain and substance use disorders may benefit from referral to a specialist.
There are no standard opioid tapering schedules that are suitable for all patients. Good clinical practice dictates a patient-specific plan to taper the dose of the opioid gradually. For patients on morphine sulfate extended-release tablets who are physically opioid-dependent, initiate the taper by a small enough increment (e.g., no greater than 10% to 25% of the total daily dose) to avoid withdrawal symptoms, and proceed with dose-lowering at an interval of every 2 to 4 weeks. Patients who have been taking opioids for briefer periods of time may tolerate a more rapid taper.
It may be necessary to provide the patient with lower dosage strengths to accomplish a successful taper. Reassess the patient frequently to manage pain and withdrawal symptoms, should they emerge. Common withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, lacrimation, rhinorrhea, yawning, perspiration, chills, myalgia, and mydriasis. Other signs and symptoms also may develop, including irritability, anxiety, backache, joint pain, weakness, abdominal cramps, insomnia, nausea, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, or increased blood pressure, respiratory rate, or heart rate. If withdrawal symptoms arise, it may be necessary to pause the taper for a period of time or raise the dose of the opioid analgesic to the previous dose, and then proceed with a slower taper. In addition, monitor patients for any changes in mood, emergence of suicidal thoughts, or use of other substances.
When managing patients taking opioid analgesics, particularly those who have been treated for a long duration and/or with high doses for chronic pain, ensure that a multimodal approach to pain management, including mental health support (if needed), is in place prior to initiating an opioid analgesic taper. A multimodal approach to pain management may optimize the treatment of chronic pain, as well as assist with the successful tapering of the opioid analgesic [see Warnings and Precautions (5.13), Drug Abuse and Dependence (9.3)].
- Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets 15 mg
Round, blue-colored, film-coated tablets bearing the symbol ABG on one side and 15 on the other
- Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets 30 mg
Round, lavender-colored, film-coated tablets bearing the symbol ABG on one side and 30 on the other
- Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets 60 mg
Round, orange-colored, film-coated tablets bearing the symbol ABG on one side and 60 on the other
- Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets 100 mg
Round, gray-colored, film-coated tablets bearing the symbol ABG on one side and 100 on the other
- Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets 200 mg
Capsule-shaped, green-colored, film-coated tablets bearing the symbol ABG on one side and 200 on the other
Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets are contraindicated in patients with:
- Significant respiratory depression [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)]
- Acute or severe bronchial asthma in an unmonitored setting or in the absence of resuscitative equipment [see Warnings and Precautions (5.6)]
- Concurrent use of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or use of MAOIs within the last 14 days [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7), Drug Interactions (7)].
- Known or suspected gastrointestinal obstruction, including paralytic ileus [see Warnings and Precautions (5.11)]
- Hypersensitivity (e.g., anaphylaxis) to morphine [see Adverse Reactions (6.2)]
Morphine sulfate extended-release tablets contain morphine, a Schedule II controlled substance. As an opioid, morphine sulfate extended-release tablets expose its users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse. Because extended-release products such as morphine sulfate extended-release tablets deliver the opioid over an extended period of time, there is a greater risk for overdose and death due to the larger amount of morphine present [see Drug Abuse and Dependence (9)].
Although the risk of addiction in any individual is unknown, it can occur in patients appropriately prescribed morphine sulfate extended-release tablets. Addiction can occur at recommended doses and if the drug is misused or abused.
Assess each patient’s risk for opioid addiction, abuse, or misuse prior to prescribing morphine sulfate extended-release tablets, and monitor all patients receiving morphine sulfate extended-release tablets for development of these behaviors and conditions. Risks are increased in patients with a personal or family history of substance abuse (including drug or alcohol abuse or addiction) or mental illness (e.g., major depression). The potential for these risks should not, however, prevent the proper management of pain in any given patient. Patients at increased risk may be prescribed opioids such as morphine sulfate extended-release tablets, but use in such patients necessitates intensive counseling about the risks of proper use of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets along with intensive monitoring for signs of addiction, abuse, and misuse. Consider prescribing naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose [see Dosage and Administration (2.2), Warnings and Precautions (5.3)].
Abuse or misuse of morphine sulfate extended-release tablets by crushing, chewing, snorting, or injecting the dissolved product will result in the uncontrolled delivery of morphine and can result in overdose and death [see Overdosage (10)].
Opioids are sought by drug abusers and people with addiction disorders and are subject to criminal diversion. Consider these risks when prescribing or dispensing morphine sulfate extended-release tablets. Strategies to reduce these risks include prescribing the drug in the smallest appropriate quantity and advising the patient on the proper disposal of unused drug [see Patient Counseling Information (17)]. Contact local state professional licensing board or state controlled substances authority for information on how to prevent and detect abuse or diversion of this product.
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