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Morphine can cause tolerance, psychological and physical dependence. Withdrawal will occur on abrupt discontinuation or administration of a narcotic antagonist.

Interaction with Other Central Nervous System Depressants

Morphine should be used with caution and in reduced dosage in patients who are concurrently receiving other narcotic analgesics, general anesthetics, phenothiazines, other tranquilizers, sedative-hypnotics, tricyclic antidepressants, and other CNS depressants (including alcohol). Respiratory depression, hypotension, and profound sedation or coma may result.



Head Injury and Increased Intracranial Pressure

The respiratory depressant effects of morphine and its capacity to elevate cerebrospinal-fluid pressure may be markedly exaggerated in the presence of increased intracranial pressure. Furthermore, narcotics produce side effects that may obscure the clinical course of patients with head injuries. In such patients, morphine must be used with caution and only if it is deemed essential.

Asthma and Other Respiratory Conditions

Morphine should be used with caution in patients having an acute asthmatic attack, in those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cor pulmonale, and in individuals with a substantially decreased respiratory re-serve, 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.

Hypotensive Effect

The administration of morphine may result in severe hypotension in an individual whose ability to maintain his blood pressure has already been compromised by a depleted blood volume or concurrent administration of such drugs as the phenothiazines or certain anesthetics.

Special-Risk Patients

Morphine 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, hypothyroidism, Addison's disease, prostatic hy-pertrophy, or urethral stricture.

Acute Abdominal Conditions

The administration of morphine or other narcotics may obscure the diagnosis or clinical course in patients with acute abdominal conditions.


Long-term studies to determine the carcinogenic and mutagenic potential of morphine are not available.


Teratogenic Effects

Pregnancy Category C

Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with morphine. It is also not known whether morphine can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproduction capacity. Morphine should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed.

Labor and Delivery

Morphine readily crosses the placental barrier and if administered during labor, may lead to respiratory depression in the neonate.

Nursing Mothers

Morphine has been detected in human milk. For this reason, caution should be exercised when morphine is administered to a nursing woman.

Pediatric Usage

Safety and effectiveness in children have not been established.

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 8/22/2007


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