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Prolonged meperidine use may increase the risk of toxicity (e.g., seizures) from the accumulation of the meperidine metabolite, normeperidine.
Meperidine can produce drug dependence of the morphine type and therefore has the potential for being abused. Psychic dependence, physical dependence, and tolerance may develop upon repeated administration of meperidine, and it should be prescribed and administered with the same degree of caution appropriate to the use of morphine. Like other narcotics, meperidine is subject to the provisions of the Federal narcotic laws.
Head Injury And Increased Intracranial Pressure
The respiratory depressant effects of meperidine and its capacity to elevate cerebrospinal fluid pressure may be markedly exaggerated in the presence of head injury, other intracranial lesions, or a preexisting increase in intracranial pressure. Furthermore, narcotics produce adverse reactions which may obscure the clinical course of patients with head injuries. In such patients, meperidine must be used with extreme caution and only if its use is deemed essential.
If necessary, meperidine may be given intravenously, but the injection should be given very slowly, preferably in the form of a diluted solution. Rapid intravenous injection of narcotic analgesics, including meperidine, increases the incidence of adverse reactions; severe respiratory depression, apnea, hypotension, peripheral circulatory collapse, and cardiac arrest have occurred. Meperidine should not be administered intravenously unless a narcotic antagonist and the facilities for assisted or controlled respiration are immediately available. When meperidine is given parenterally, especially intravenously, the patient should be lying down.
Asthma And Other Respiratory Conditions
Meperidine should be used with extreme caution in patients having an acute asthmatic attack, patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cor pulmonale, patients having a substantially decreased respiratory reserve, and patients with preexisting respiratory depression, hypoxia, or hypercapnia. In such patients, even usual therapeutic doses of narcotics may decrease respiratory drive while simultaneously increasing airway resistance to the point of apnea.
The administration of meperidine may result in severe hypotension in the postoperative patient or any individual whose ability to maintain blood pressure has been compromised by a depleted blood volume or the administration of drugs such as the phenothiazines or certain anesthetics.
Usage In Ambulatory Patients
Meperidine may impair the mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery. The patient should be cautioned accordingly.
Meperidine, like other narcotics, may produce orthostatic hypotension in ambulatory patients.
Usage In Pregnancy
Meperidine should not be used in pregnant women prior to the labor period, unless in the judgment of the physician the potential benefits outweigh the possible risks, because safe use in pregnancy prior to labor has not been established relative to possible adverse effects on fetal development.
Labor And Delivery
When used as an obstetrical analgesic, meperidine crosses the placental barrier and can produce depression of respiration and psychophysiologic functions in the newborn. Resuscitation may be required (see OVERDOSAGE). Therefore meperidine is not recommended during labor.
Meperidine appears in the milk of nursing mothers receiving the drug. Due to the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the potential benefits of the drug to the nursing woman.
As with all intramuscular preparations, Demerol™ intramuscular injection should be injected well within the body of a large muscle.
Opioid analgesics can have a narrow therapeutic index in certain patient populations, particularly when combined with CNS depressant drugs. The use of these products should be reserved for cases where the benefits of opioid analgesia outweigh the known risks of respiratory depression, altered mental state, and postural hypotension.
Use of Demerol™ may be associated with increased potential risks and should be used with caution in the following conditions: sickle cell anemia, pheochromocytoma, acute alcoholism; adrenocortical insufficiency (e.g., Addison's disease); CNS depression or coma; delirium tremens; debilitated patients; kyphoscoliosis associated with respiratory depression; myxedema or hypothyroidism; prostatic hypertrophy or urethral stricture; severe impairment of hepatic, pulmonary, or renal function; and toxic psychosis (see PRECAUTIONS, Special Risk Patients ).
The administration of meperidine may obscure the diagnosis or clinical course in patients with acute abdominal conditions. All opioids may induce or aggravate seizures in some clinical settings.
Interactions With Other CNS Depressants
Meperidine should be used with caution and consideration should be given to starting with a reduced dosage in patients who are concurrently receiving other central nervous system depressants including sedatives or hypnotics, general anesthetics, phenothiazines, other tranquilizers, and alcohol. Drug-drug interactions may result in respiratory depression, hypotension, profound sedation, coma, or death if these drugs are taken in combination with the usual doses of Demerol™.
Interactions With Mixed Agonist/Antagonist Opioid Analgesics
Agonist/antagonist analgesics (i.e., pentazocine, nalbuphine, butorphanol, and buprenorphine) should be administered with caution to a patient who has received or is receiving a course of therapy with a pure opioid agonist analgesic such as meperidine. In this situation, mixed agonist/antagonist analgesics may reduce the analgesic effect of meperidine and/or may precipitate withdrawal symptoms in these patients due to competitive blocking of receptors.
Meperidine should be used with caution in patients with atrial flutter and other supraventricular tachycardias because of a possible vagolytic action which may produce a significant increase in the ventricular response rate.
Meperidine may aggravate preexisting convulsions in patients with convulsive disorders. If dosage is escalated substantially above recommended levels because of tolerance development, convulsions may occur in individuals without a history of convulsive disorders.
Acute Abdominal Conditions
The administration of meperidine or other narcotics may obscure the diagnosis or clinical course in patients with acute abdominal conditions.
Tolerance And Physical Dependence
Meperidine has the potential to produce tolerance and drug dependence. 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). Physical dependence is manifested by withdrawal symptoms after abrupt discontinuation of a drug or upon administration of an antagonist. Physical dependence and tolerance are not unusual during chronic opioid therapy.
The opioid abstinence or withdrawal syndrome is characterized by some or all of the following: restlessness, lacrimation, rhinorrhea, yawning, perspiration, chills, myalgia, mydriasis. Other 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.
In general, opioids used regularly should not be abruptly discontinued.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
Studies to assess the carcinogenic or mutagenic potential of meperidine have not been conducted. Studies to determine the effect of meperidine on fertility have not been conducted.
Pregnancy Category C: Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with meperidine. It is also not known whether Demerol™ can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproduction capacity. Demerol™ should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed.
Labor And Delivery
The safety and effectiveness of meperidine in pediatric patients has not been established. Literature reports indicate that meperidine has a slower elimination rate in neonates and young infants compared to older children and adults. Neonates and young infants may also be more susceptible to the effects, especially the respiratory depressant effects. If meperidine use is contemplated in neonates or young infants, any potential benefits of the drug need to be weighed against the relative risk of the patient.
Clinical studies of Demerol™ during product development did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to evaluate age-related differences in safety or efficacy. Literature reports indicate that geriatric patients have a slower elimination rate compared to young patients and they may be more susceptible to the effects of meperidine. Reducing the total daily dose of meperidine is recommended in elderly patients and the potential benefits of the drug should be weighed against the relative risk to a geriatric patient.
Clinical studies indicate that differences in various pharmacokinetic parameters may exist between elderly and younger patients. (See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY.)This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 1/5/2016
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