How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Morphine belongs to the class of medications called narcotic analgesics (pain relievers). These pain relievers are also known as opioid analgesics. This medication is used to treat severe chronic pain. It acts on the brain to increase pain tolerance.
Sustained-release pain relievers should only be used when chronic pain control is necessary and should not be used to treat acute pain. Your doctor may prescribe additional pain relievers that act more quickly for treatment of acute or "breakthrough" pain.
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
PMS-Morphine Sulfate is no longer being manufactured for sale in Canada. For brands that may still be available, search under morphine sustained release. This article is being kept available for reference purposes only. If you are using this medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for information about your treatment options.
How should I use this medication?
The dose of long-acting morphine varies widely, based on need. Tablets or capsules are to be taken every 12 or 24 hours on a regular schedule in order to achieve and maintain pain relief.
To preserve the long-acting activity of the medication, the tablets or capsules must not be chewed or crushed. If you have difficulty swallowing tablets or capsules whole, contact your doctor. Some capsules may be opened and sprinkled on soft food.
Do not take this medication in higher doses or for a longer period of time than prescribed by your doctor.
Over time, this medication may produce tolerance and physical dependence as your body becomes used to the medication. Tolerance occurs when a dose that used to provide acceptable pain relief is no longer effective, and higher doses are required to achieve the same level of pain relief. Physical dependence is a state where the body will go into withdrawal if the medication is stopped suddenly. If you have been taking morphine on a regular basis for a long period of time, talk to your doctor before stopping the medication, as withdrawal effects can occur.
Tolerance and physical dependence are not the same as addiction. Addiction is defined as a psychological need to use the medication for reasons other than pain relief. Although people may become addicted to this medication, it is most common for people who have had addictions to other substances in the past.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without talking to your doctor first, and do not increase the dose of this medication without consulting your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue on with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Store this medication at room temperature, protected from light and moisture. Keep out of reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Morphine sustained release should not be taken by anyone who:
- is allergic to morphine, other narcotic analgesics, or to any of the ingredients of the medication
- is experiencing acute alcoholism or delirium tremens
- is experiencing acute asthma or other obstructive airway disease
- is experiencing acute respiratory depression
- has a blockage of the gastrointestinal tract, particularly paralytic ileus
- has a head injury, a brain tumour, or increased pressure inside the head or spinal cord
- has a medication regimen (current or completed in the last 14 days) that includes MAO inhibitors such as phenelzine or tranylcypromine
- has abnormal heart rhythms
- has convulsive (seizure) disorders
- has cor pulmonale
- has severe depression of the central nervous system (i.e., sedation)
- has suspected abdominal conditions that may require surgery
- is pregnant or breast-feeding, in labour, or delivering
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- depression or other mood or mental changes
- fast, slow, or pounding heartbeat
- feelings of disassociation from reality
- hives, itching, or skin rash
- increased sweating
- irregular breathing
- redness or flushing of face
- shortness of breath, wheezing, or difficulty breathing
- swelling of the face
- trembling or uncontrolled muscle movements
- unusual excitement or restlessness (especially in children)
Stop taking this medication and seek medical attention immediately if any of the following occur:
- signs of overdose
- cold, clammy skin
- convulsions (seizures)
- dizziness (severe)
- drowsiness (severe)
- low blood pressure
- nervousness or restlessness (severe)
- pinpoint-sized pupils of eyes
- slow heartbeat
- slow or troubled breathing
- weakness (severe)
- signs of serious allergic reaction (e.g., abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting , or swelling of the face and throat)
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Asthma and other respiratory conditions: Morphine may cause increased breathing difficulty for people having an acute asthma attack, or those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis, emphysema) or other conditions that affect breathing. People with asthma or other breathing disorders should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Dependence and withdrawal: Drug addiction is usually not a problem for people who require this medication for pain relief. Physical dependence (a need to take regular doses to prevent physical symptoms) has been associated with narcotic analgesics such as morphine. Withdrawal symptoms may be experienced if the dose is significantly reduced or suddenly discontinued. These symptoms include seizures, irritability, sleep problems, agitation, tremors, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, headache, muscle cramps, extreme anxiety, tension, restlessness, sweating, and confusion. Reducing the dose gradually under medical supervision can help prevent or decrease these withdrawal symptoms when this medication is no longer required for pain control.
Dizziness: Morphine and other narcotics may cause dramatically reduced blood pressure, resulting in dizziness and unsteadiness. To reduce the possibility of severe dizziness, rise slowly when standing from a sitting or lying position.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Morphine may impair the mental or physical abilities needed for certain potentially hazardous activities such as driving a car or operating machinery. Avoid these activities until the effects of morphine are known.
Head injuries: Morphine can cause increased pressure inside the head. If you have an acute head injury or other conditions that increase your intracranial pressure (pressure inside the head), discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Kidney function: If you have reduced kidney function or kidney disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Liver function: If you have reduced liver function or liver disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Medical conditions: Morphine may cause increased symptoms or reduce the symptoms of worsening illness for people with Addison's disease, reduced thyroid function, enlarged prostate, stricture of the urethra, reduced pituitary function, anemia, severe malnutrition, active ulcerative colitis, and hypothyroidism (low thyroid). If you have any of these conditions, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Seizures: Morphine may worsen pre-existing seizure disorders. If tolerance to the medication develops and the dosage is increased substantially above recommended levels, seizures may occur in people without a history of seizure disorders. If you have a seizure disorder, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk and should not be taken by women who are breast-feeding.
Seniors: Seniors may be more sensitive to the effects of morphine and may require lower doses.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between morphine sustained release and any of the following:
If you are taking any medications that have a sedating effect, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. In many cases, interactions are intended or are managed by close monitoring. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.