MS Contin Dosage
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Mar 12, 2021.
Generic name: morphine sulfate 15mg
Dosage form: tablet, film coated, extended release
Important Dosage and Administration Instructions
MS CONTIN should be prescribed only by healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable in the use of potent opioids for the management of chronic pain.
MS CONTIN 100 mg and 200 mg tablets, a single dose greater than 60 mg, or a total daily dose greater than 120 mg, are only for use in patients in whom tolerance to an opioid of comparable potency has been established. Patients considered opioid-tolerant are those taking, for one week or longer, at least 60 mg morphine per day, 25 mcg transdermal fentanyl per hour, 30 mg oral oxycodone per day, 8 mg oral hydromorphone daily, 25 mg oral oxymorphone per day, 60 mg oral hydrocodone per day, or an equianalgesic dose of another opioid.
- Use the lowest effective dosage for the shortest duration consistent with individual patient treatment goals [see Warnings and Precautions (5)].
- Initiate the dosing regimen for each patient individually, taking into account the patient's severity of pain, prior analgesic treatment experience, and risk factors for addiction, abuse, and misuse [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].
- Monitor patients closely for respiratory depression, especially within the first 24 to 72 hours of initiating therapy and following dosage increases with MS CONTIN and adjust the dosage accordingly [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)].
Instruct patients to swallow MS CONTIN tablets whole [see Patient Counseling Information (17)]. Crushing, chewing, or dissolving MS CONTIN tablets will result in uncontrolled delivery of morphine and can lead to overdose or death [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].
MS CONTIN is administered orally once every 8 or 12 hours.
Patient Access to Naloxone for the Emergency Treatment of Opioid Overdose
Discuss the availability of naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose with the patient and caregiver and assess the potential need for access to naloxone, both when initiating and renewing treatment with MS CONTIN [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3), Patient Counseling Information (17)].
Inform patients and caregivers about the various ways to obtain naloxone as permitted by individual state naloxone dispensing and prescribing requirements or guidelines (e.g., by prescription, directly from a pharmacist, or as part of a community-based program).
Consider prescribing naloxone, based on the patient's risk factors for overdose, such as concomitant use of CNS depressants, a history of opioid use disorder, or prior opioid overdose. The presence of risk factors for overdose should not prevent the proper management of pain in any given patient [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1, 5.3, 5.5)].
Consider prescribing naloxone if the patient has household members (including children) or other close contacts at risk for accidental ingestion or overdose.
Use of MS CONTIN as the First Opioid Analgesic (opioid-naïve patients)
Initiate treatment with MS CONTIN with 15 mg tablets orally every 8 or 12 hours.
Use of MS CONTIN in Patients who are not Opioid Tolerant (opioid non-tolerant patients)
The starting dose for patients who are not opioid tolerant is MS CONTIN 15 mg orally every 12 hours.
Use of higher starting doses in patients who are not opioid tolerant may cause fatal respiratory depression.
Conversion from Other Oral Morphine to MS CONTIN
Patients receiving other oral morphine formulations may be converted to MS CONTIN by administering one-half of the patient's 24-hour requirement as MS CONTIN on an every-12-hour schedule or by administering one-third of the patient's daily requirement as MS CONTIN on an every-8-hour schedule.
Conversion from Other Opioids to MS CONTIN
Discontinue all other around-the-clock opioid drugs when MS CONTIN therapy is initiated.
There are no established conversion ratios for conversion from other opioids to MS CONTIN defined by clinical trials. Initiate dosing using MS CONTIN 15 mg orally every 8 to 12 hours.
It is safer to underestimate a patient's 24-hour oral morphine dosage and provide rescue medication (e.g., immediate-release opioid) than to overestimate the 24-hour oral morphine dosage and manage an adverse reaction due to an overdose. While useful tables of opioid equivalents are readily available, there is inter-patient variability in the potency of opioid drugs and opioid formulations. Close observation and frequent titration are warranted until pain management is stable on the new opioid. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal and for signs of oversedation/toxicity after converting patients to MS CONTIN.
Conversion from Parenteral Morphine or Other Opioids (Parenteral or Oral) to MS CONTIN
When converting from parenteral morphine or other non-morphine opioids (parenteral or oral) to MS CONTIN, consider the following general points:
Parenteral to oral morphine ratio: Between 2 to 6 mg of oral morphine may be required to provide analgesia equivalent to 1 mg of parenteral morphine. Typically, a dose of morphine that is approximately three times the previous daily parenteral morphine requirement is sufficient.
Other parenteral or oral non-morphine opioids to oral morphine ratios: Specific recommendations are not available because of a lack of systematic evidence for these types of analgesic substitutions. Published relative potency data are available, but such ratios are approximations. In general, begin with half of the estimated daily morphine requirement as the initial dose, managing inadequate analgesia by supplementation with immediate-release morphine.
Conversion from Methadone to MS CONTIN
Close monitoring is of particular importance when converting methadone to other opioid agonists. The ratio between methadone and other opioid agonists may vary widely as a function of previous dose exposure. Methadone has a long half-life and can accumulate in the plasma.
Titration and Maintenance of Therapy
Individually titrate MS CONTIN to a dose that provides adequate analgesia and minimizes adverse reactions. Continually reevaluate patients receiving MS CONTIN to assess the maintenance of pain control and the relative incidence of adverse reactions, as well as monitoring for the development of addiction, abuse, or misuse [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)]. Frequent communication is important among the prescriber, other members of the healthcare team, the patient, and the caregiver/family during periods of changing analgesic requirements, including initial titration. During chronic therapy periodically reassess the continued need for the use of opioid analgesics.
Patients who experience breakthrough pain may require a dosage adjustment of MS CONTIN, or may need rescue medication with an appropriate dose of an immediate-release analgesic. If the level of pain increases after dose stabilization, attempt to identify the source of increased pain before increasing the MS CONTIN dosage. Because steady-state plasma concentrations are approximated in 1 day, MS CONTIN dosage adjustments may be done every 1 to 2 days.
If unacceptable opioid-related adverse reactions are observed, consider reducing the dosage. Adjust the dosage to obtain an appropriate balance between management of pain and opioid-related adverse reactions.
Dosage Modifications with Concomitant Use of Central Nervous System Depressants
If the patient is currently taking a central nervous system (CNS) depressant and the decision is made to begin MS CONTIN, start with the lowest possible dose, 15 mg every 12 hours, monitor patients for signs of respiratory depression, sedation, and hypotension, and consider using a lower dosage of the concomitant CNS depressant [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5), Drug Interactions (7)].
Safe Reduction or Discontinuation of MS CONTIN
Do not abruptly discontinue MS CONTIN in patients who may be physically dependent on opioids. Rapid discontinuation of opioid analgesics in patients who are physically dependent on opioids has resulted in serious withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled pain, and suicide. Rapid discontinuation has also been associated with attempts to find other sources of opioid analgesics, which may be confused with drug-seeking for abuse. Patients may also attempt to treat their pain or withdrawal symptoms with illicit opioids, such as heroin, and other substances.
When a decision has been made to decrease the dose or discontinue therapy in an opioid dependent patient taking MS CONTIN, there are a variety of factors that should be considered, including the dose of MS CONTIN the patient has been taking, the duration of treatment, the type of pain being treated, and the physical and psychological attributes of the patient. It is important to ensure ongoing care of the patient and to agree on an appropriate tapering schedule and follow-up plan so that patient and provider goals and expectations are clear and realistic. When opioid analgesics are being discontinued due to a suspected substance use disorder, evaluate, and treat the patient, or refer for evaluation and treatment of the substance use disorder. Treatment should include evidence-based approaches, such as medication assisted treatment of opioid use disorder. Complex patients with co-morbid pain and substance use disorders may benefit from referral to a specialist.
There are no standard opioid tapering schedules that are suitable for all patients. Good clinical practice dictates a patient-specific plan to taper the dose of the opioid gradually. For patients on MS CONTIN who are physically opioid-dependent, initiate the taper by a small enough increment (e.g., no greater than 10% to 25% of the total daily dose) to avoid withdrawal symptoms, and proceed with dose-lowering at an interval of every 2 to 4 weeks. Patients who have been taking opioids for briefer periods of time may tolerate a more rapid taper.
It may be necessary to provide the patient with lower dosage strengths to accomplish a successful taper. Reassess the patient frequently to manage pain and withdrawal symptoms, should they emerge. Common withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, lacrimation, rhinorrhea, yawning, perspiration, chills, myalgia, and mydriasis. Other signs and 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. If withdrawal symptoms arise, it may be necessary to pause the taper for a period of time or raise the dose of the opioid analgesic to the previous dose, and then proceed with a slower taper. In addition, monitor patients for any changes in mood, emergence of suicidal thoughts, or use of other substances.
When managing patients taking opioid analgesics, particularly those who have been treated for a long duration and/or with high doses for chronic pain, ensure that a multimodal approach to pain management, including mental health support (if needed), is in place prior to initiating an opioid analgesic taper. A multimodal approach to pain management may optimize the treatment of chronic pain, as well as assist with the successful tapering of the opioid analgesic [see Warnings and Precautions (5.13), Drug Abuse and Dependence (9.3)].
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