- morphine sulfate
POM: Prescription only medicine
This information is intended for use by health professionals
ZOMORPH 10mg, 30mg, 60mg, 100mg, 200mg capsules
• Morphine sulfate BP 10mg
• Morphine sulfate BP 30mg
• Morphine sulfate BP 60mg
• Morphine sulfate BP 100mg
• Morphine sulfate BP 200mg
Excipients with known effect:
Each 10mg capsule contains:
Sucrose (10.62 mg/capsule)
Each 30mg capsule contains:
Sucrose (31.85 mg/capsule)
Each 60mg capsule contains:
Sucrose (63.69 mg/capsule) and a small amount (<1 mg/capsule) of sunset yellow (E110)
Each 100mg capsule contains:
Sucrose (106.16 mg/capsule)
Each 200mg capsule contains:
Sucrose (212.32 mg/capsule)
For the full list of excipients, see section 6.1.
Prolonged release capsule, hard.
Severe chronic pain and/or pain resistant to other analgesics, in particular pain associated with cancer.
Prior to starting treatment with opioids, a discussion should be held with patients to put in place a strategy for ending treatment with morphine in order to minimise the risk of addiction and drug withdrawal syndrome (see section 4.4).
Adults: Recommended dosage is one capsule twice daily, at 12-hourly intervals.
Elderly: As with all narcotics, a reduction in dosage may be advisable in the elderly, as appropriate.
The dosage varies according to the severity of pain and the previous analgesic treatments received by the patient. The correct dosage for any individual patient is that which is sufficient to control pain with no, or tolerable, side effects for a full 12 hours.
If the pain persists, or if the patient develops tolerance to morphine, the dosage may be increased by prescribing the 10mg, 30mg, 60mg, 100mg and 200mg capsules in various combinations or alone to obtain the desired relief.
Higher doses should be made, where possible in 30-50% increments as required.
It is recommended that the 200 mg strength is reserved for patients who have already been titrated to a stable analgesic dose using lower strengths of morphine or other opioid preparations.
Patients previously treated with immediate-release oral morphine should receive the same daily dose of sustained-release capsules, but in two divided doses at 12-hourly intervals.
Patients previously treated with parenteral morphine should be given a sufficiently increased dosage to compensate for any reduction of the analgesic effect associated with oral administration. Usually such increased requirement is of the order of 100%. The dosage should be adjusted to meet the individual requirements of each patient.
Discontinuation of therapy:
An abstinence syndrome may be precipitated if opioid administration is suddenly discontinued. Therefore the dose should be gradually reduced prior to discontinuation.
Method of administration
Route of administration: oral.
The capsules should not be chewed and should normally be swallowed whole. The administration of broken, chewed or crushed capsules or granules may lead to a rapid release and absorption of a potentially fatal dose of morphine (see section 4.9.).
For patients who cannot swallow the capsules, their contents can be administered directly in semi-solid food (puree, jam, yoghurt) or via gastric or gastrostomy tubes of a diameter of more than 16 F.G. with an open distal end or lateral pores. It is sufficient to rinse the tube with 30ml to 50ml of water.
Hypersensitivity to the active substance or to any of the excipients listed in section 6.1, respiratory depression, obstructive airways disease, acute abdominal syndrome of unknown origin, delayed gastric emptying, severely impaired liver function, cranial trauma and raised intracranial pressure, convulsive state, acute alcoholic intoxication and delirium tremens, children, risk of paralytic ileus, concurrent treatment with MAO (MAO = monoamine oxidase) inhibitors or within two weeks of their use.
The major risk of opioid excess is respiratory depression.
As with all narcotics a reduction in dosage may be advisable in the elderly, in hypothyroidism and in patients with significantly impaired renal or hepatic function.
Use with caution in patients with impaired respiratory function, severe bronchial asthma, convulsive disorders, hypotension, severe cor pulmonale, diseases of the biliary tract, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disorders, prostatic hypertrophy, hypoadrenalism and in patients in a state of shock.
Should paralytic ileus be suspected or occur during use, Zomorph should be discontinued immediately.
Morphine may lower the seizure threshold in patients with a history of epilepsy
Urinary retention may occur in patients with urethral disease or prostatic hypertrophy.
Acute chest syndrome (ACS) in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD):
Due to a possible association between ACS and morphine use in SCD patients treated with morphine during a vaso-occlusive crisis, close monitoring for ACS symptoms is warranted.
Decreased Sex Hormones and increased prolactin:
Long-term use of opioid analgesics may be associated with decreased sex hormone levels and increased prolactin. Symptoms include decreased libido, impotence or amenorrhea.
Opioid analgesics may cause reversible adrenal insufficiency requiring monitoring and glucocorticoid replacement therapy. Symptoms of adrenal insufficiency may include e.g. nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, or low blood pressure.
Risk from concomitant use of sedative medicines such as benzodiazepines or related drugs:
Concomitant use of Zomorph and sedative medicines such as benzodiazepines or related drugs may result in sedation, respiratory depression, coma and death. Because of these risks, concomitant prescribing with these sedative medicines should be reserved for patients for whom alternative treatment options are not possible. If a decision is made to prescribe Zomorph concomitantly with sedative medicines, the lowest effective dose should be used, and the duration of treatment should be as short as possible.
The patients should be followed closely for signs and symptoms of respiratory depression and sedation. In this respect, it is strongly recommended to inform patients and their caregivers to be aware of these symptoms (see section 4.5).
Plasma concentrations of morphine may be reduced by rifampicin. The analgesic effect of morphine should be monitored and doses of morphine adjusted during and after treatment with rifampicin.
Concomitant use of alcohol and Zomorph may increase the undesirable effects of Zomorph; concomitant use should be avoided.
Drug dependence, tolerance and potential for abuse
For all patients, prolonged use of this product may lead to drug dependence (addiction), even at therapeutic doses. The risks are increased in individuals with current or past history of substance misuse disorder (including alcohol misuse) or mental health disorder (e.g., major depression).
Additional support and monitoring may be necessary when prescribing for patients at risk of opioid misuse.
A comprehensive patient history should be taken to document concomitant medications, including over-the-counter medicines and medicines obtained on-line, and past and present medical and psychiatric conditions.
Patients may find that treatment is less effective with chronic use and express a need to increase the dose to obtain the same level of pain control as initially experienced. Patients may also supplement their treatment with additional pain relievers. These could be signs that the patient is developing tolerance. The risks of developing tolerance should be explained to the patient.
Overuse or misuse may result in overdose and/or death. It is important that patients only use medicines that are prescribed for them at the dose they have been prescribed and do not give this medicine to anyone else.
Patients should be closely monitored for signs of misuse, abuse, or addiction.
The clinical need for analgesic treatment should be reviewed regularly.
Morphine has an abuse potential similar to other strong agonist opioids, and should be used with particular caution in patients with a history of alcohol or drug abuse.
Abuse of oral dosage forms by parenteral administration can be expected to result in serious adverse events, which may be fatal.
Drug withdrawal syndrome
Prior to starting treatment with any opioids, a discussion should be held with patients to put in place a withdrawal strategy for ending treatment with morphine.
Drug withdrawal syndrome may occur upon abrupt cessation of therapy or dose reduction. When a patient no longer requires therapy, it is advisable to taper the dose gradually to minimise symptoms of withdrawal. Tapering from a high dose may take weeks to months.
The opioid drug withdrawal syndrome is characterised by some or all of the following: restlessness, lacrimation, rhinorrhoea, yawning, perspiration, chills, myalgia, mydriasis and palpitations. Other symptoms may also develop including irritability, agitation, anxiety, hyperkinesia, tremor, weakness, insomnia, anorexia, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, increased blood pressure, increased respiratory rate or heart rate.
If women take this drug during pregnancy, there is a risk that their newborn infants will experience neonatal withdrawal syndrome.
Hyperalgesia may be diagnosed if the patient on long-term opioid therapy presents with increased pain. This might be qualitatively and anatomically distinct from pain related to disease progression or to breakthrough pain resulting from development of opioid tolerance. Pain associated with hyperalgesia tends to be more diffuse than the pre-existing pain and less defined in quality. Symptoms of hyperalgesia may resolve with a reduction of opioid dose or a change in opioid.
It is not possible to ensure bio-equivalence between different brands of prolonged release morphine products. Therefore, it should be emphasised that patients, once titrated to an effective dose, should not be changed from Zomorph to other slow, sustained or prolonged release morphine or other potent narcotic analgesic preparations without retitration and clinical assessment.
[all strengths] Patients with rare hereditary problems of fructose intolerance, glucose- galactose malabsorption or sucrase-isomaltase insufficiency should not take this medicine.
[60 mg strength only] This medicinal product contains sunset yellow (E110) which may cause allergic reactions.
Morphine sulfate should not be co-administered with monoamine oxidase inhibitors or within two weeks of such therapy (see section 4.3).
The depressant effects of opioid analgesics are enhanced by depressants of the central nervous system such as but not limited to: other opioids, alcohol, general anaesthetics, antipsychotics, anxyolitics, hypnotics and sedatives, muscle relaxants, antihypertensives, gabapentin, antidepressants and phenothiazines.
Sedative medicines such as benzodiazepines or related drugs:
The concomitant use of opioids with sedative medicines such as benzodiazepines or related drugs increases the risk of sedation, respiratory depression, coma and death because of additive CNS depressant effect. The dose and duration of concomitant use should be limited (see section 4.4).
Medicinal products that block the action of acetylcholine, for example antihistamines, anti-parkinsons and anti-emetics, may interact with morphine sulfate to potentiate anticholinergic adverse events.
Cimetidine inhibits the metabolism of morphine sulfate.
Opioid analgesics with some antagonist activity, such as buprenorphine, butorphanol, nalbuphine or pentazocine may precipitate withdrawal symptoms in patients who have recently used pure agonists such as morphine. The actions of opioids may in turn affect the activities of other compounds. For instance, their gastro-intestinal effects may delay absorption as with mexiletine or may be counteractive as with metoclopramide, domperidone and possibly cisapride.
Plasma concentrations of morphine are possibly decreased by ritonavir.
Alcohol may enhance the pharmacodynamic effects of Zomorph; concomitant use should be avoided.
Since this product rapidly crosses the placental barrier, its use is not recommended during pregnancy and labour. Regular use during pregnancy may cause drug dependence in the foetus, leading to withdrawal symptoms in the neonate.
If opioid use is required for a prolonged period in a pregnant woman, advise the patient of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available.
Administration during labour may depress respiration in the neonate and an antidote for the child should be readily available.
Newborns whose mothers received opioid analgesics during pregnancy should be monitored for signs of neonatal withdrawal (abstinence) syndrome in the newborn infant characterised by: convulsions, irritability, vomiting, increased mortality. Treatment may include an opioid and supportive care. As with all drugs, it is not advisable to administer morphine during pregnancy.
Administration to nursing mothers is not recommended as morphine may be secreted in breast milk and may cause respiratory depression in the infant.
Animal studies have shown that morphine may reduce fertility (see section 5.3.).
Morphine may modify the patient's reactions to a varying extent depending on the dosage and susceptibility. If affected, patients should not drive or operate machinery.
This medicine can impair cognitive function and can affect a patient's ability to drive safely. This class of medicine is in the list of drugs included in regulations under 5a of the Road Traffic Act 1988. When prescribing this medicine, patients should be told:
• The medicine is likely to affect your ability to drive
• Do not drive until you know how the medicine affects you
• It is an offence to drive while under the influence of this medicine
• However, you would not be committing an offence (called 'statutory defence') if:
o The medicine has been prescribed to treat a medical or dental problem and
o You have taken it according to the instructions given by the prescriber and in the information provided with the medicine and
o It was not affecting your ability to drive safely
The most common side effects at usual doses are nausea, constipation, confusion and occasionally vomiting. With chronic therapy, nausea and vomiting are unusual with Zomorph capsules but should they occur the capsules can be readily combined with an anti-emetic if required. Constipation may be treated with appropriate laxatives.
Frequency of adverse effects is ranked as follows: very common (≥ 1/10), common (≥ 1/100 to < 1/10), uncommon (≥ 1/1,000 to < 1/100), rare (≥ 1/10,000 to < 1/1,000), very rare (< 1/10,000), or not known (cannot be estimated from available data).
System organ class
(≥1/100 to <1/10)
(≥1/1000 to <1/100)
Not known (cannot be estimated from the available data)
Immune system disorders
Excitation (particularly in elderly subjects in whom delirium and hallucinations may occur)
Drug dependence (see section 4.4)
Nervous system disorders
Muscle contractions involuntary
Intracranial pressure increased which may aggravate existing cerebral disorders
Allodynia, hyperalgesia (see section 4.4)
Ear and labyrinth disorders
Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders
Metabolism and nutrition disorders
Bile duct pressure increased
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders
Renal and urinary disorders
Reproductive system and breast disorders
General disorders and administration site conditions
Drug withdrawal syndrome
Drug withdrawal (abstinence) syndrome
Increased hepatic enzymes
Respiratory depression occurs even at therapeutic doses.
Drug dependence and withdrawal (abstinence) syndrome
Use of opioid analgesics may be associated with the development of physical and/or psychological dependence or tolerance, which may appear after administration of therapeutic doses for periods of 1 to 2 weeks. Some cases of dependence have been observed after only 2 to 3 days. An abstinence syndrome may be precipitated when opioid administration is suddenly discontinued or opioid antagonists administered, or can sometimes be experienced between doses. It may occur a few hours after withdrawal and is maximal between the 36th and 72nd hours. For management, see section 4.4.
Physiological withdrawal symptoms include: Body aches, tremors, restless legs syndrome, diarrhoea, abdominal colic, nausea, flu-like symptoms, tachycardia and mydriasis. Psychological symptoms include dysphoric mood, anxiety and irritability. In drug dependence, “drug craving” is often involved.
Reporting of suspected adverse reactionsReporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme at: www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard or search for MHRA Yellow Card in the Google Play or Apple App Store.
Patients should be informed of the signs and symptoms of overdose and to ensure that family and friends are also aware of these signs and to seek immediate medical help if they occur.
Signs of morphine toxicity and overdose are extreme miosis (pin-point pupils), skeletal muscle flaccidity, bradycardia, hypotension, hypothermia, respiratory depression, pneumonia aspiration, somnolence and central nervous system depression which can progress to stupor or coma. Circulatory failure and deepening coma may occur in more severe cases. Death may occur from respiratory failure.
Rhabdomyolysis progressing to renal failure has been reported in opioid overdose.
Crushing and taking the contents of a prolonged release dosage form may lead to the release of morphine in an immediate fashion; this might result in a fatal overdose.
Treatment of morphine overdose:
Primary attention should be given to the establishment of a patent airway and institution of assisted or controlled ventilation.
The pure opioid antagonists are specific antidotes against the effects of opioid overdose. Other supportive measures should be employed as needed.
Treatment is by intravenous injection of naloxone 0.4mg – 2mg, repeated every 2 to 3 minutes if necessary, or by an infusion of 2mg in 500ml of normal saline or 5% dextrose (0.004mg/ml).
The infusion should be run at a rate related to the previous bolus doses administered and should be in accordance with the patient's response. However, because the duration of action of naloxone is relatively short, the patient must be carefully monitored until spontaneous respiration is reliably re-established. Zomorph capsules will continue to release and add to the morphine load for up to 12 hours after administration and the management of morphine overdose should be modified accordingly.
For less severe overdose, administer naloxone 0.2 mg intravenously followed by increments of 0.1 mg every 2 minutes if required.
Naloxone should not be administered in the absence of clinically significant respiratory or circulatory depression secondary to morphine overdose.
In subjects dependent on morphine-like drugs, withdrawal symptoms may occur following injection of a high dose of naloxone. It should therefore be injected in gradually increasing doses to such subjects.
Pharmacotherapeutic group: natural opium alkaloid
ATC code: N02A A01
Morphine acts as an agonist at opiate receptors in the CNS particularly Mu and to a lesser extent Kappa receptors. Mu receptors are thought to mediate supraspinal analgesia, respiratory depression and euphoria, and Kappa receptors, spinal analgesia, miosis and sedation.
Central Nervous System
The principal actions of therapeutic value of morphine are analgesia and sedation (i.e., sleepiness and anxiolysis). Morphine produces respiratory depression by direct action on brain stem respiratory centres.
Morphine depresses the cough reflex by direct effect on the cough centre in the medulla. Antitussive effects may occur with doses lower than those usually required for analgesia. Morphine causes miosis, even in total darkness. Pinpoint pupils are a sign of narcotic overdose but are not pathognomonic (e.g., pontine lesions of haemorrhagic or ischaemic origin may produce similar findings). Marked mydriasis rather than miosis may be seen with hypoxia in the setting of morphine overdose.
Gastrointestinal Tract and Other Smooth Muscle
Morphine causes a reduction in motility associated with an increase in smooth muscle tone in the antrum of the stomach and duodenum. Digestion of food in the small intestine is delayed and propulsive contractions are decreased. Propulsive peristaltic waves in the colon are decreased, while tone is increased to the point of spasm resulting in constipation. Morphine generally increases smooth muscle tone, especially the sphincters of the gastrointestinal and biliary tracts. Morphine may produce spasm of the sphincter of Oddi, thus raising intrabiliary pressure.
Morphine may produce release of histamine with or without associated peripheral vasodilation. Manifestations of histamine release and/or peripheral vasodilation may include pruritus, flushing, red eyes, sweating, and/or orthostatic hypotension.
Opioids may affect the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal and hypothalamic pituitary gonadal system resulting in adrenal insufficiency or hypogonadism respectively (see
Other Pharmacological Effects
In vitro and animal studies indicate various effects of natural opioids, such as morphine, on components of the immune system; the clinical significance of these findings is unknown.
This is a sustained-release form, which makes twice-daily oral administration possible. Morphine is immediately absorbed from the digestive tract following oral administration. The maximum serum concentrations of morphine are obtained in 2 to 4 hours.
The percentage of binding to plasma proteins after absorption is low (about 34%). There is no clearly defined correlation between the plasma concentration of morphine and the analgesic effect.
A considerable quantity of morphine is metabolised by the liver to glucuronides, which undergo enterohepatic recirculation.
Indeed, Morphine is subject to a significant first-pass effect which results in a lower bioavailability when compared to an equivalent intravenous dose.
The major metabolic transformation of morphine is glucuronidation to morphine 3- glucuronide and morphine-6-glucuronide which then undergo renal excretion. These metabolites are excreted in bile and may be subject to hydrolysis and subsequent reabsorption
The product is eliminated essentially in the urine, by glomerular filtration, mainly as glucuronides. A small amount (less than 10%) is eliminated in the faeces.
In male rats, reduced fertility and chromosomal damage in gametes have been reported.
Sugar spheres containing (sucrose and maize starch), polyethylene glycol 4000, ethyl-cellulose, cetyl alcohol, sodium lauryl sulphate, dibutyl sebacate, talc, gelatin, iron oxide ink (E172), titanium dioxide (E171) (for the 10mg, 30mg, 60mg and 100mg strengths), quinoline yellow (E104) (only for the 10mg strength), erythrosine (E127) (only for the 30mg strength), sunset yellow (E 110) (only for the 60mg strength).
Store below 25°C in a dry place protected from heat.
Blister packs (aluminium/PVC).
Boxes of 14, 30 and 60 capsules.
Not all pack sizes may be marketed.
194, Bureaux de la Colline – Bâtiment D
92213 Saint-Cloud cedex
10mg: PL 06934/0182
30mg: PL 06934/0183
60mg: PL 06934/0184
100mg: PL 06934/0185
200mg: PL 06934/0186
16 July 2010 (10mg, 30mg)
17 July 2010 (60mg, 100mg & 200mg)