Generic Name: meperidine (me PER i deen)
Brand Name: Demerol HCl
What is Demerol HCl (meperidine)?
Meperidine is an opioid pain medication. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic.
Meperidine is used to treat moderate-to-severe pain.
Meperidine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about Demerol HCl (meperidine)?
You should not use meperidine if you have severe asthma or breathing problems.
Meperidine can slow or stop your breathing. Never use this medicine in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Meperidine may be habit-forming, even at regular doses. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.
MISUSE OF NARCOTIC MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription.
Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death can occur when alcohol is combined with meperidine.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Demerol HCl (meperidine)?
You should not use meperidine if you are allergic to it, or if you have severe asthma or breathing problems.
Do not use meperidine if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.
Some medicines can interact with meperidine and cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Be sure your doctor knows if you also take medicine for depression, mental illness, Parkinson's disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting. Ask your doctor before making any changes in how or when you take your medications.
To make sure meperidine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
any type of breathing problem or lung disease;
a blockage in your stomach or intestines;
a history of head injury, brain tumor, or seizures;
a history of drug abuse, alcohol addiction, or mental illness;
liver or kidney disease;
problems with your gallbladder, adrenal gland, or thyroid;
sickle cell anemia; or
abnormal curvature of the spine that affects breathing.
It is not known whether meperidine will harm an unborn baby. Meperidine may cause breathing problems in your newborn if you use the medication during late pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.
Meperidine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using meperidine.
How should I take Demerol HCl (meperidine)?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Meperidine can slow or stop your breathing, especially when you start using this medicine or whenever your dose is changed. Never take meperidine in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your pain.
Meperidine may be habit-forming, even at regular doses. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. MISUSE OF NARCOTIC MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Selling or giving away meperidine is against the law.
Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
Do not stop using meperidine suddenly after long-term use, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when you stop using meperidine.
Never crush or break a meperidine pill to inhale the powder or mix it into a liquid to inject the drug into your vein. This practice has resulted in death with the misuse of meperidine and similar prescription drugs.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Keep track of the amount of medicine used from each new bottle. Meperidine is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.
Do not keep leftover meperidine pills or liquid. Ask your pharmacist where to locate a drug take-back disposal program. If there is no take-back program, flush any unused pills or liquid medicine down the toilet.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Since meperidine is used for pain, you are not likely to miss a dose. Skip any missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. A meperidine overdose can be fatal, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Overdose symptoms may include slow breathing and heart rate, severe drowsiness, muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, blue-colored skin or lips, fainting, or coma.
What should I avoid while taking Demerol HCl (meperidine)?
Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death can occur when alcohol is combined with meperidine. Check your food and medicine labels to be sure these products do not contain alcohol.
This medication may impair your thinking or reactions. Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how meperidine will affect you. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls or other accidents.
Demerol HCl (meperidine) side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Stop using meperidine and call your doctor at once if you have:
weak or shallow breathing, slow heartbeat;
severe drowsiness, feeling like you might pass out;
confusion, mood changes, agitation, hallucinations;
tremors, muscle movements you cannot control, or a seizure (convulsions);
infertility, missed menstrual periods;
impotence, sexual problems, loss of interest in sex; or
low cortisol levels-- nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, worsening tiredness or weakness.
Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Meperidine is more likely to cause breathing problems in older adults and people who are severely ill, malnourished, or otherwise debilitated.
Common side effects may include:
nausea, vomiting; or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Demerol HCl (meperidine)?
Some medicines can cause unwanted or dangerous effects when used with meperidine. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all medicines you use now, and any medicine you start or stop using.
Taking this medicine with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous or life-threatening side effects. Ask your doctor before taking meperidine with a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.
Other drugs may interact with meperidine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
More about Demerol (meperidine)
- Other brands: Meperitab
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about meperidine.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
- Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 11.05.
Date modified: October 14, 2016
Last reviewed: July 26, 2016