Generic Name: meperidine (me-PER-ih-deen)
Brand Name: Demerol

Demerol is used for:

Short-term treatment of moderate to severe pain. It may also be used before or during surgery (eg, to support anesthesia), for pain relief during labor and delivery, or for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Demerol is a narcotic analgesic. It works in the brain and nervous system to decrease pain.

Do NOT use Demerol if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Demerol
  • you have severely slow or difficult breathing
  • you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) (eg, phenelzine) within the last 14 days
  • you are taking ritonavir, sibutramine, or sodium oxybate (GHB)

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: 2014 Update: First Time Brand-to-Generic Switches

Before using Demerol:

Some medical conditions may interact with Demerol. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have had an allergic reaction to any codeine- or morphine-related medicine (eg, hydrocodone, oxycodone, dihydrocodeine, hydromorphone)
  • if you have a history of lung or breathing problems (eg, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], cor pulmonale); low levels of oxygen or high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood; sickle cell anemia; adrenal gland problems (eg, Addison disease, pheochromocytoma); curvature of the spine (scoliosis); thyroid problems; low blood pressure; an enlarged prostate; urinary blockage or trouble urinating; lung, liver, or kidney problems; heart problems (eg, fast or irregular heartbeat); seizures; or stomach or bowels problems (eg, inflammatory bowel disease)
  • if you have or have recently had any head injury, brain tumor or other growths, or increased pressure in the brain
  • if you drink alcohol; are going through withdrawal from alcohol or other substances; or have a history of alcohol or substance abuse or dependence, mental or mood problems, or suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • if you have severe diarrhea due to taking an antibiotic (pseudomembranous colitis), constipation, stomach pain, low blood volume, dehydration, drowsiness, or severe weakness, or have had recent surgery

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Demerol. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Mixed narcotic agonist/antagonists (eg, butorphanol, pentazocine), naltrexone, or rifamycins (eg, rifampin) because they may decrease Demerol's effectiveness
  • Furazolidone or MAOIs (eg, phenelzine) because the risk of serious side effects, including coma, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, seizures, and irregular heartbeat, may be increased
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (eg, fluoxetine) or sibutramine because the risk of side effects, including increased body temperature, mental or mood changes, muscle twitching, or severe drowsiness, may be increased
  • Acyclovir, cimetidine, phenothiazines (eg, chlorpromazine), phenytoin, or ritonavir because the risk of side effects of Demerol may be increased
  • Muscle relaxers (eg, cyclobenzaprine) or sodium oxybate (GHB) because actions and side effects may be increased by Demerol

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Demerol may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Demerol:

Use Demerol as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Demerol is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you will be using Demerol at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use Demerol. Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
  • Tell your doctor if you still experience pain or if your pain gets worse while using Demerol.
  • Do not use Demerol if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged.
  • Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Ask your health care provider how to dispose of these materials after use. Follow all local rules for disposal.
  • If you miss a dose of Demerol and you are using it regularly, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Demerol.

Important safety information:

  • Demerol may cause drowsiness, dizziness, or light-headedness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use Demerol with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Demerol may cause dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting; alcohol, hot weather, exercise, or fever can increase these effects. To prevent them, sit up or stand slowly, especially in the morning. Sit or lie down at the first sign of any of these effects.
  • Check with your doctor before you drink alcohol or use medicines that may cause drowsiness (eg, sleep aids, muscle relaxers) while you are using Demerol; it may add to their effects. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines may cause drowsiness.
  • Demerol may cause constipation. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about using a stool softener or laxative to prevent constipation. It is also important to maintain a diet adequate in fiber, drink plenty or water, and exercise to prevent constipation. If you become constipated while taking Demerol, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Do NOT take more than the recommended dose or use for longer than prescribed without checking with your doctor. Prolonged use of Demerol may increase the risk of toxicity, including seizures.
  • Do not suddenly stop taking Demerol without first checking with your doctor. If you have been taking Demerol for more than a few weeks and your doctor tells you to stop taking it, your dose may need to be gradually lowered as directed by your doctor to avoid side effects.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take Demerol before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Use Demerol with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Use Demerol with extreme caution in CHILDREN; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially slowed or difficult breathing.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Demerol while you are pregnant. Demerol is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while using Demerol.

When used for long periods of time or at high doses, Demerol may not work as well and may require higher doses to obtain the same effect as when originally taken. This is known as TOLERANCE. Talk with your doctor if Demerol stops working well. Do not take more than prescribed.

When used for long periods of time or at high doses, some people develop a need to continue taking Demerol. This is known as DEPENDENCE or addiction.

If you suddenly stop taking Demerol, you may experience WITHDRAWAL symptoms, including anxiety; appetite loss; backache; chills; diarrhea; enlarged pupils; fast heartbeat or breathing rate; increased tears; irritability; muscle or joint pain; nausea; restlessness; runny nose; severe or persistent dizziness; sleeplessness; stomach cramps; sweating; vomiting; weakness; and yawning.

Possible side effects of Demerol:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Constipation; dizziness; drowsiness; flushing; light-headedness; loss of appetite; nausea; sweating; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); chest pain; confusion; difficulty urinating; fainting; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; hallucinations; mental or mood changes; numbness of an arm or a leg; seizure; severe or persistent constipation or stomach pain; severe or persistent dizziness or light-headedness; severe or persistent drowsiness; slowed, shallow, or difficult breathing; sudden severe headache, nausea, or vomiting; tremor; uncontrolled muscle movements; vision changes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include chest pain; cold and clammy skin; fainting; limp muscles; loss of consciousness; low body temperature; seizures; severe dizziness or light-headedness; severe drowsiness; slowed heartbeat; slowed, shallow, or difficult breathing; small pupils.

Proper storage of Demerol:

Demerol is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using Demerol at home, store Demerol as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider. Keep Demerol out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Demerol, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Demerol is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take Demerol or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about Demerol. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to Demerol. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using Demerol.

Issue Date: September 3, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.003
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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