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Meperidine

Generic Name: meperidine (me PER i deen)
Brand Name: Demerol, Demerol HCl

Medically reviewed on Oct 12, 2018

What is meperidine?

Meperidine is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate-to-severe pain.

Meperidine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

MISUSE OF OPIOID MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.

Taking opioid medicine during pregnancy may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.

Fatal side effects can occur if you use opioid medicine with alcohol, or with other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use meperidine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • severe asthma or breathing problems; or

  • a blockage in your stomach or intestines.

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.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • a head injury, brain tumor, or seizures;

  • any type of breathing problem or lung disease;

  • drug or alcohol addiction, or mental illness;

  • a blockage in your stomach or intestines;

  • urination problems;

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • problems with your gallbladder, adrenal gland, or thyroid;

  • sickle cell anemia; or

  • abnormal curvature of the spine that affects breathing.

If you use opioid medicine while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on opioids may need medical treatment for several weeks.

Do not breast-feed while using meperidine. meperidine can pass into breast milk and cause drowsiness, breathing problems, or death in a nursing baby.

How should I take meperidine?

Follow the directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides. Never use meperidine in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if you feel an increased urge to take more of this medicine.

Never share opioid medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. MISUSE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away opioid medicine is against the law.

Measure liquid medicine carefully. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon).

Do not stop using this medicine suddenly after long-term use, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely 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 prescription drugs.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep track of your medicine. You should be aware if anyone is using it improperly or without a prescription.

Do not keep leftover opioid medication. Just one dose can cause death in someone using this medicine accidentally or improperly. Ask your pharmacist where to locate a drug take-back disposal program. If there is no take-back program, flush the unused 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 dose. Do not use two doses at one time.

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 meperidine?

Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death can occur when alcohol is combined with meperidine.

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how meperidine will affect you. Dizziness or drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.

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.

Opioid medicine can slow or stop your breathing, and death may occur. A person caring for you should seek emergency medical attention if you have slow breathing with long pauses, blue colored lips, or if you are hard to wake up.

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;

  • tremors, muscle movements you cannot control, or a seizure (convulsions);

  • 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.

Serious side effects may be more likely in older adults and those who are malnourished or debilitated.

Long-term use of opioid medication may affect fertility (ability to have children) in men or women. It is not known whether opioid effects on fertility are permanent.

Common side effects may include:

  • dizziness, drowsiness;

  • headache;

  • nausea, vomiting; or

  • sweating.

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.

What other drugs will affect meperidine?

You may have breathing problems or withdrawal symptoms if you start or stop taking certain other medicines. Tell your doctor if you also use an antibiotic, antifungal medication, heart or blood pressure medication, seizure medication, or medicine to treat HIV or hepatitis C.

Opioid medication can interact with many other drugs and cause dangerous side effects or death. Be sure your doctor knows if you also use:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect meperidine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here.

Further information

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.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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