Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Mar 11, 2022.
Meperidine hydrochloride has the potential for addiction, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death. Assess each patient's risk before prescribing, and monitor for development of these behaviors or conditions. Serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression may occur. Monitor closely, especially upon initiation or following a dose increase. Prolonged use of meperidine hydrochloride during pregnancy can result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated. 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. Concomitant use or discontinuation of concomitantly used cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibitors may effect meperidine plasma concentrations and lead to fatal respiratory depression, profound sedation, opioid toxicity, and/or opioid withdrawal. Careful monitoring of patients should occur when meperidine and cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibitors are concurrently used. Concomitant use of benzodiazepines and opioids may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death. Reserve concomitant prescribing for patients with inadequate alternative treatment options. Limit dosages and durations to the minimum required and follow patients for signs and symptoms of respiratory depression and sedation. Concomitant use of meperidine hydrochloride with MAOIs or use of MAOIs within the last 14 days is contraindicated and can lead to coma, severe respiratory depression, cyanosis, and hypotension .
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Analgesic
Chemical Class: Opioid
Uses for Demerol
Meperidine injection is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. It may be used before or during surgery, or to relieve pain during labor or delivery. Meperidine belongs to the group of medicines called narcotic analgesics (pain medicines). It acts on the central nervous system (CNS) to relieve pain.
When a narcotic medicine is used for a long time, it may become habit-forming, causing mental or physical dependence. However, people who have continuing pain should not let the fear of dependence keep them from using narcotics to relieve their pain. Mental dependence (addiction) is not likely to occur when narcotics are used for this purpose. Physical dependence may lead to withdrawal side effects if treatment is stopped suddenly. However, severe withdrawal side effects can usually be prevented by gradually reducing the dose over a period of time before treatment is stopped completely.
This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using Demerol
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of meperidine injection in children. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of Demerol™ in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney, liver, heart, or lung problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving Demerol™.
No information is available on the relationship of age to the effects of meperidine injection in geriatric patients. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney or liver problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving meperidine injection.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
- Methylene Blue
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Calcium Oxybate
- Chloral Hydrate
- Eslicarbazepine Acetate
- Gabapentin Enacarbil
- Magnesium Oxybate
- Morphine Sulfate Liposome
- Nitrous Oxide
- Opium Alkaloids
- Potassium Oxybate
- Ropeginterferon Alfa-2b-njft
- Sodium Oxybate
- St John's Wort
- Tolonium Chloride
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
- Grapefruit Juice
Using this medicine with any of the following may cause an increased risk of certain side effects but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Addison's disease (adrenal gland problem) or
- Alcohol abuse, or history of or
- Brain tumor or
- Breathing problems, severe (eg, COPD, hypercapnia, hypoxia, sleep apnea) or
- Cor pulmonale (serious heart condition) or
- Depression, or history of or
- Drug dependence, especially with narcotics, or history of or
- Enlarged prostate (BPH, prostatic hypertrophy) or
- Head injuries, history of or
- Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) or
- Pheochromocytoma (adrenal problem) or
- Problems with passing urine or
- Weakened physical condition—Use with caution. May increase risk for more serious side effects.
- Gallbladder problems or
- Heart rhythm problems (eg, atrial flutter, tachycardia) or
- Hypotension (low blood pressure) or
- Hypovolemia (low blood volume) or
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or
- Seizures, history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Kidney disease or
- Liver disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.
- Lung or breathing problems (eg, asthma, respiratory depression), severe or
- Stomach or bowel blockage (eg, paralytic ileus)—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
Proper use of Demerol
A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine in a hospital. This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins, or as a shot under your skin or in a muscle.
Meperidine may sometimes be given at home to patients who do not need to be in the hospital or clinic. If you are using this medicine at home, your doctor or nurse will teach you how to prepare and inject the medicine. Be sure that you understand how to use the medicine.
You will be shown the body areas where this shot can be given. Use a different body area each time you give yourself a shot. Keep track of where you give each shot to make sure you rotate body areas. This will help prevent skin problems from the injections.
You might not use all of the medicine in each ampul or cartridge. Use each ampul or cartridge only one time. If the medicine in the vial or syringe has changed color, or if you see particles in it, do not use it.
Use a new needle and syringe each time you inject your medicine.
Throw away used needles in a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container away from children and pets.
The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For injection dosage form:
- For moderate to severe pain:
- Adults—At first, 50 to 150 milligrams (mg) injected into a muscle or under your skin every 3 or 4 hours as needed.
- Children—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 0.5 to 0.8 milligram (mg) per pound (lb) injected into a muscle or under your skin every 3 or 4 hours as needed.
- For moderate to severe pain:
If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions while using Demerol
It is very important that your doctor check your progress while you are receiving this medicine. This is to make sure that the medicine is working properly, and to allow your doctor to check for any unwanted effects.
Do not use this medicine if you are using or have used a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor (eg, Eldepryl®, Marplan®, Nardil®, Parnate®) in the past 2 weeks. Using these medicines together may cause unwanted effects, such as confusion, agitation, restlessness, stomach or intestinal symptoms, a sudden high temperature, an extremely high blood pressure, or convulsions.
Symptoms of an overdose include extreme dizziness or weakness, slow heartbeat or breathing, seizures, trouble breathing, and cold, clammy skin. Call your doctor right away if you notice these symptoms.
This medicine will add to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (medicines that can make you drowsy or less alert). Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for allergies or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine, other prescription pain medicine or narcotics, medicine for seizures or barbiturates, muscle relaxants, or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of the medicines listed above while you are using this medicine.
This medicine may cause sleep-related breathing problems (eg, sleep apnea, sleep-related hypoxemia). Your doctor may decrease your dose if you have sleep apnea (stop breathing for short periods during sleep) while using this medicine.
This medicine may be habit-forming. If you feel that the medicine is not working as well, do not use more than your prescribed dose. Call your doctor for instructions.
Using narcotics for a long time can cause severe constipation. To prevent this, your doctor may direct you to take laxatives, drink a lot of fluids, or increase the amount of fiber in the diet. Be sure to follow the directions carefully, because continuing constipation can lead to more serious problems.
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting may occur when you get up suddenly from a lying or sitting position. Getting up slowly may help lessen this problem. Also, lying down for a while may relieve the dizziness or lightheadedness.
This medicine may make you dizzy, drowsy, confused, or disoriented. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or not alert.
Before having any kind of surgery (including dental surgery) or emergency treatment, tell the medical doctor or dentist in charge that you are using this medicine. Serious unwanted effects can occur if certain medicines are given together with meperidine injection.
Check with your doctor right away if you have anxiety, restlessness, a fast heartbeat, fever, sweating, muscle spasms, twitching, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or see or hear things that are not there. These may be symptoms of a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Your risk may be higher if you also take certain other medicines that affect serotonin levels in your body.
If you have been using this medicine regularly for several weeks or longer, do not suddenly stop using it without checking with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping it completely. This may help prevent worsening of your condition and reduce the possibility of withdrawal symptoms, such as abdominal or stomach cramps, anxiety, fever, nausea, runny nose, sweating, tremors, or trouble with sleeping.
Using this medicine while you are pregnant may cause neonatal withdrawal syndrome in your newborn babies. Tell your doctor right away if your baby has an abnormal sleep pattern, diarrhea, a high-pitched cry, irritability, shakiness or tremors, weight loss, vomiting, or fails to gain weight.
Using too much of this medicine may cause infertility (unable to have children). Talk with your doctor before using this medicine if you plan to have children.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Demerol side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Incidence not known
- Bluish color
- blurred vision
- changes in skin color
- chest pain or discomfort
- cold, clammy skin
- difficult or troubled breathing
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- face is warm or hot to the touch
- fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
- fast or weak pulse
- irregular, fast, slow, or shallow breathing
- pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
- redness to the face
- shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
- slow or irregular heartbeat
- swelling of the foot or leg
- trembling or shaking of the hands or feet
- uncoordinated movement of the muscles
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- upper abdominal or stomach pain
- very low blood pressure or pulse
- very slow breathing
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:
Symptoms of overdose
- Bluish lips or skin
- change in consciousness
- decreased awareness or responsiveness
- loss of consciousness
- severe sleepiness
- sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- relaxed or calm feeling
Incidence not known
- blurred or loss of vision
- confusion about identity, place, and time
- disturbed color perception
- double vision
- dry mouth
- false or unusual sense of well-being
- halos around lights
- hardening or thickening of the skin
- hives or welts, itching skin, or rash
- night blindness
- overbright appearance of lights
- red streaks on the skin
- redness of the skin
- seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
- shaking or tremors
- swelling, tenderness, or pain at the injection site
- trouble sleeping
- tunnel vision
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Frequently asked questions
More about Demerol (meperidine)
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- During pregnancy or Breastfeeding
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- En español
- Drug class: narcotic analgesics
- Drug Information
- Demerol (Advanced Reading)
- Demerol (Meperidine Injection)
- Demerol (Meperidine Syrup and Oral Solution)
- Demerol (Meperidine Tablets)
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