"Nov. 2, 2012 -- Safety steps taken in the wake of the fungal meningitis outbreak have worsened drug shortages, raising questions about whether the U.S. must choose between the safety and the availability of crucial medicines.
The major hazards of meperidine, as with other narcotic analgesics, are respiratory depression and, to a lesser degree, circulatory depression; respiratory arrest, shock, and cardiac arrest have occurred.
The most frequently observed adverse reactions include lightheadedness, dizziness, sedation, nausea, vomiting, and sweating. These effects seem to be more prominent in ambulatory patients and in those who are not experiencing severe pain. In such individuals, lower doses are advisable. Some adverse reactions in ambulatory patients may be alleviated if the patient lies down.
Other adverse reactions include:
Nervous System: Mood changes (e.g. euphoria, dysphoria), weakness, headache, agitation, tremor, involuntary muscle movements (e.g. muscle twitches, myoclonus), severe convulsions, transient hallucinations and disorientation, confusion, delirium, visual disturbances.
Gastrointestinal: Dry mouth, constipation, biliary tract spasm.
Histamine release leading to hypotension and/or tachycardia, flushing, sweating, and pruritus.
Drug Abuse And Addiction
DEMEROL contains meperidine, a mu-agonist opioid with an abuse liability similar to morphine and is a Schedule II controlled substance. Meperidine, like morphine and other opioids used in analgesia, can be abused and is subject to criminal diversion.
Drug addiction is characterized by compulsive use, use for non-medical purposes, and continued use despite harm or risk of harm. Drug addiction is a treatable disease, utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach, but relapse is common.
“Drug seeking” behavior is very common in addicts and drug abusers. 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 treating physician(s). “Doctor shopping” to obtain additional prescriptions is common among drug abusers and people suffering from untreated addiction.
Abuse and addiction are separate and distinct from physical dependence and tolerance. Physicians 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 and is characterized by misuse for non-medical purposes, often in combination with other psychoactive substances. DEMEROL, like other opioids, has been diverted for non-medical use. Careful record-keeping of prescribing information, including quantity, frequency, and renewal requests is strongly advised.
Abuse of DEMEROL poses a risk of overdose and death. This risk is increased with concurrent abuse of DEMEROL with alcohol and other substances. Due to the presence of talc as one of the excipients in tablets, parenteral abuse of crushed tablets can be expected to result in local tissue necrosis, infection, pulmonary granulomas, and increased risk of endocarditis and valvular heart disease. In addition, parenteral drug abuse is commonly associated with transmission of infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.
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.
Read the Demerol (meperidine) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects
Also see WARNINGS.
Acyclovir: Plasma concentrations of meperidine and its metabolite, normeperidine, may be increased by acyclovir, thus caution should be used with concomitant administration.
Cimetidine: Cimetidine reduced the clearance and volume of distribution of meperidine and also the formation of the metabolite, normeperidine, in healthy subjects and thus, caution should be used with concomitant administration.
CNS Depressants: Concomitant use of CNS depressants with usual doses of Demerol may result in respiratory depression, hypotension, profound sedation, coma or death (see PRECAUTIONS, Interactions with other CNS Depressants).
Phenytoin: The hepatic metabolism of meperidine may be enhanced by phenytoin. Concomitant administration resulted in reduced half-life and bioavailability with increased clearance of meperidine in healthy subjects, however, blood concentrations of normeperidine were increased, thus exercise caution when phenytoin is used concomitantly with meperidine.
Ritonavir: Plasma concentrations of the active metabolite normeperidine may be increased by ritonavir, thus concomitant administration should be avoided.
Special Risk Patients
Meperidine should be given with caution and the initial dose should be reduced in certain patients such as the elderly or debilitated, and those with severe impairment of hepatic or renal function, Sickle Cell Anemia, hypothyroidism, Addison's disease, Pheochromocytoma and prostatic hypertrophy or urethral stricture. In patients with pheochromocytoma, meperidine has been reported to provoke hypertension.
Usage in Hepatically Impaired Patients
Accumulation of meperidine and/or its active metabolite, normeperidine, can occur in patients with hepatic impairment. Meperidine should therefore be used with caution in patients with hepatic impairment.
Usage in Renally Impaired Patients
Accumulation of meperidine and/or its active metabolite, normeperidine, can also occur in patients with renal impairment. Meperidine should therefore be used with caution in patients with renal impairment.
Read the Demerol Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions
Last reviewed on RxList: 11/9/2011
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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