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- Levorphan Tartrate
- Levorphanol Tartrate
Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling.
Tablet, Oral, as tartrate:
Generic: 2 mg
- Analgesic, Opioid
Levorphanol is a synthetic opioid agonist that is classified as a morphinan derivative. Opioids interact with stereospecific opioid receptors in various parts of the central nervous system and other tissues. Analgesic potency parallels the affinity for these binding sites. These drugs do not alter the threshold or responsiveness to pain, but the perception of pain.
Vdss: IV: 10 to 13 L/kg
Urine (as inactive metabolite)
Onset of Action
Oral: 10 to 60 minutes
Time to Peak
Plasma: ~1 hour
Duration of Action
Up to 8 hours
IV: 11 to 16 hours
Use: Labeled Indications
Pain: Management of moderate to severe pain where an opioid analgesic is appropriate
Hypersensitivity to levorphanol or any component of the formulation
Documentation of allergenic cross-reactivity for opioid analgesics is limited. However, because of similarities in chemical structure and/or pharmacologic actions, the possibility of cross-sensitivity can not be ruled out with certainty.
Note: These are guidelines and do not represent the maximum doses that may be required in all patients. Doses should be titrated to pain relief/prevention.
Acute pain (moderate to severe): Oral: Initial: Opioid-naive: 2 mg every 6 to 8 hours as needed; may increase to 3 mg every 6 to 8 hours if needed (maximum: 12 mg per 24 hours initially); higher doses may be appropriate in opioid tolerant patients. Reduce initial dose by ≥50% in patients with conditions affecting respiratory reserve or with coadministration with other drugs affecting the respiratory center.
Note: The American Pain Society recommends an initial dose of 2 to 4 mg for severe pain in adults (APS 2008)
Chronic pain: Patients taking opioids chronically may become tolerant and require doses higher than the usual dosage range to maintain the desired effect. Tolerance can be managed by appropriate dose titration. There is no optimal or maximal dose for levorphanol in chronic pain. The appropriate dose is one that relieves pain throughout its dosing interval without causing unmanageable side effects.
Reduce initial doses by 50% or more. Refer to adult dosing.
Dosing: Renal Impairment
There are no specific dosage adjustments provided in the manufacturer's labeling; use with caution; reduce initial dose in patients with severe renal impairment.
Dosing: Hepatic Impairment
There are no specific dosage adjustments provided in the manufacturer's labeling; use with caution; reduce initial dose in patients with severe hepatic impairment.
Store at 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F).
Alcohol (Ethyl): CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Alcohol (Ethyl). Monitor therapy
Alvimopan: Analgesics (Opioid) may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Alvimopan. This is most notable for patients receiving long-term (i.e., more than 7 days) opiates prior to alvimopan initiation. Management: Alvimopan is contraindicated in patients receiving therapeutic doses of opioids for more than 7 consecutive days immediately prior to alvimopan initiation. Consider therapy modification
Amphetamines: May enhance the analgesic effect of Analgesics (Opioid). Monitor therapy
Anticholinergic Agents: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Analgesics (Opioid). Specifically, the risk for constipation and urinary retention may be increased with this combination. Monitor therapy
Antipsychotic Agents (Phenothiazines): May enhance the hypotensive effect of Analgesics (Opioid). Monitor therapy
Azelastine (Nasal): CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Azelastine (Nasal). Avoid combination
Blonanserin: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Blonanserin. Consider therapy modification
Brimonidine (Topical): May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy
Cannabis: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy
CNS Depressants: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of other CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy
Desmopressin: Analgesics (Opioid) may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Desmopressin. Monitor therapy
Dimethindene: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy
Diuretics: Analgesics (Opioid) may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Diuretics. Analgesics (Opioid) may diminish the therapeutic effect of Diuretics. Monitor therapy
Doxylamine: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Management: The manufacturer of Diclegis (doxylamine/pyridoxine), intended for use in pregnancy, specifically states that use with other CNS depressants is not recommended. Monitor therapy
Dronabinol: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy
Droperidol: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Management: Consider dose reductions of droperidol or of other CNS agents (e.g., opioids, barbiturates) with concomitant use. Consider therapy modification
Eluxadoline: Analgesics (Opioid) may enhance the constipating effect of Eluxadoline. Avoid combination
Flunitrazepam: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Flunitrazepam. Consider therapy modification
HYDROcodone: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of HYDROcodone. Management: Consider starting with a 20% to 30% lower hydrocodone dose when using together with any other CNS depressant. Dose reductions in the other CNS depressant may also be warranted. Consider therapy modification
HydrOXYzine: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy
Kava Kava: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy
Magnesium Sulfate: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy
Methotrimeprazine: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Methotrimeprazine. Methotrimeprazine may enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Management: Reduce adult dose of CNS depressant agents by 50% with initiation of concomitant methotrimeprazine therapy. Further CNS depressant dosage adjustments should be initiated only after clinically effective methotrimeprazine dose is established. Consider therapy modification
MetyroSINE: CNS Depressants may enhance the sedative effect of MetyroSINE. Monitor therapy
Minocycline: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy
Mirtazapine: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Mirtazapine. Monitor therapy
Mixed Agonist / Antagonist Opioids: May diminish the analgesic effect of Analgesics (Opioid). Management: Seek alternatives to mixed agonist/antagonist opioids in patients receiving pure opioid agonists, and monitor for symptoms of therapeutic failure/high dose requirements (or withdrawal in opioid-dependent patients) if patients receive these combinations. Avoid combination
Nabilone: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy
Nalmefene: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Analgesics (Opioid). Management: Avoid the concomitant use of nalmefene and opioid analgesics. Discontinue nalmefene 1 week prior to any anticipated use of opioid analgesics. If combined, larger doses of opioid analgesics will likely be required. Consider therapy modification
Naltrexone: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Analgesics (Opioid). Management: Seek therapeutic alternatives to opioids. See full drug interaction monograph for detailed recommendations. Consider therapy modification
Orphenadrine: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Orphenadrine. Avoid combination
OxyCODONE: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of OxyCODONE. Management: When oxycodone is combined with another CNS depressant, a dose reduction of one or both agents should be considered. The extended release oxycodone starting dose should be reduced 50% to 67% when initiated in patients already receiving CNS depressants. Consider therapy modification
Paraldehyde: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Paraldehyde. Avoid combination
Pegvisomant: Analgesics (Opioid) may diminish the therapeutic effect of Pegvisomant. Monitor therapy
Perampanel: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Management: Patients taking perampanel with any other drug that has CNS depressant activities should avoid complex and high-risk activities, particularly those such as driving that require alertness and coordination, until they have experience using the combination. Consider therapy modification
Piribedil [INT]: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Piribedil [INT]. Monitor therapy
Pramipexole: CNS Depressants may enhance the sedative effect of Pramipexole. Monitor therapy
Ramosetron: Analgesics (Opioid) may enhance the constipating effect of Ramosetron. Monitor therapy
ROPINIRole: CNS Depressants may enhance the sedative effect of ROPINIRole. Monitor therapy
Rotigotine: CNS Depressants may enhance the sedative effect of Rotigotine. Monitor therapy
Rufinamide: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of CNS Depressants. Specifically, sleepiness and dizziness may be enhanced. Monitor therapy
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: CNS Depressants may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Specifically, the risk of psychomotor impairment may be enhanced. Monitor therapy
Serotonin Modulators: Analgesics (Opioid) may enhance the serotonergic effect of Serotonin Modulators. This could result in serotonin syndrome. Exceptions: Nicergoline. Monitor therapy
Sodium Oxybate: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Management: Consider alternatives to combined use. When combined use is needed, consider minimizing doses of one or more drugs. Use of sodium oxybate with alcohol or sedative hypnotics is contraindicated. Consider therapy modification
Succinylcholine: May enhance the bradycardic effect of Analgesics (Opioid). Monitor therapy
Suvorexant: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Suvorexant. Management: Dose reduction of suvorexant and/or any other CNS depressant may be necessary. Use of suvorexant with alcohol is not recommended, and the use of suvorexant with any other drug to treat insomnia is not recommended. Consider therapy modification
Tapentadol: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Management: Start tapentadol at a dose of one-third to one-half of the normal dose if being initiated in a patient who is taking another drug with CNS depressant effects. Monitor closely for evidence of excessive CNS depression. Consider therapy modification
Tetrahydrocannabinol: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy
Thalidomide: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Thalidomide. Avoid combination
Trimeprazine: May enhance the CNS depressant effect of CNS Depressants. Monitor therapy
Zolpidem: CNS Depressants may enhance the CNS depressant effect of Zolpidem. Management: Reduce the Intermezzo brand sublingual zolpidem adult dose to 1.75 mg for men who are also receiving other CNS depressants. No such dose change is recommended for women. Avoid use with other CNS depressants at bedtime; avoid use with alcohol. Consider therapy modification
Frequency not defined.
Cardiovascular: Bradycardia, cardiac arrest, hypotension, palpitations, peripheral vasodilation, shock, tachycardia
Central nervous system: Amnesia, central nervous system depression, coma, confusion, convulsions, depression, dizziness, drowsiness, drug dependence, fatigue, hallucination, headache, increased intracranial pressure, insomnia, malaise, nervousness, paradoxical central nervous system stimulation, restlessness
Dermatologic: Pruritus, skin rash, urticaria
Endocrine & metabolic: Antidiuretic hormone disease
Gastrointestinal: Abdominal pain, anorexia, biliary tract spasm, constipation, dyspepsia, nausea, paralytic ileus, stomach cramps, vomiting, xerostomia
Genitourinary: Decreased urine output, urinary retention, urinary tract abnormality
Hypersensitivity: Histamine release
Neuromuscular & skeletal: Weakness
Ophthalmic: Diplopia, miosis
Respiratory: Apnea, cyanosis, hypoventilation, respiratory depression
Limited to important or life-threatening: Hypogonadism (Brennan, 2013; Debono, 2011)
Concerns related to adverse effects:
• CNS depression: May cause CNS depression, which may impair physical or mental abilities; patients must be cautioned about performing tasks which require mental alertness (eg, operating machinery or driving).
• Hypotension: May cause hypotension; use with caution in patients with hypovolemia, cardiovascular disease (including acute myocardial infarction), or drugs which may exaggerate hypotensive effects (including phenothiazines or general anesthetics).
• Phenanthrene hypersensitivity: Use with caution in patients with hypersensitivity reactions to other phenanthrene derivative opioid agonists (codeine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, oxymorphone).
• Respiratory depression: May cause serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression. Monitor closely for respiratory depression, especially during initiation or dose escalation.
• Abdominal conditions: May obscure diagnosis or clinical course of patients with acute abdominal conditions.
• Adrenal insufficiency: Use with caution in patients with adrenal insufficiency, including Addison disease. Long-term opioid use may cause secondary hypogonadism, which may lead to sexual dysfunction, infertility, mood disorders, and osteoporosis (Brennan, 2013). Decrease initial dose.
• Biliary tract impairment: Use with caution in patients with biliary tract dysfunction, including acute pancreatitis; opioids may cause constriction of sphincter of Oddi. Not recommended for use in biliary surgery.
• CNS depression/coma: Use with caution in patients with CNS depression or coma as these patients are susceptible to intracranial effects of CO2 retention. Use with caution in patients with acute alcoholism, toxic psychosis or delirium tremens; decrease initial dose.
• Drug abuse: Use opioids for chronic pain with caution in patients at increased risk for misuse; factors associated with increased risk include previous substance use disorder, younger age, concomitant depression (major), and psychotropic medication use. Consider offering naloxone prescriptions in patients with factors associated with an increased risk for overdose, such as history of overdose or substance use disorder, higher opioid dosages (≥50 morphine milligram equivalents/day orally), and concomitant benzodiazepine use (Dowell [CDC 2016]).
• Head trauma: Use with extreme caution in patients with head injury, intracranial lesions, or elevated intracranial pressure; exaggerated elevation of ICP may occur.
• Hepatic impairment: Use with caution in patients with severe hepatic impairment. Decrease initial dose.
• Mental health conditions: Use opioids with caution for chronic pain in patients with mental health conditions (eg, depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder) due to increased risk for opioid use disorder and overdose; more frequent monitoring is recommended (Dowell [CDC 2016]).
• Obesity: Use with caution in patients who are morbidly obese.
• Prostatic hyperplasia/urinary stricture: Use with caution in patients with prostatic hyperplasia and/or urinary stricture. Decrease initial dose.
• Renal impairment: Use with caution in patients with severe renal impairment. Decrease initial dose.
• Respiratory disease: Use with caution in patients with pre-existing respiratory compromise (hypoxia and/or hypercapnia), COPD, or other obstructive pulmonary disease, and kyphoscoliosis or other skeletal disorder which may alter respiratory function; critical respiratory depression may occur, even at therapeutic dosages. Decrease initial dose. Use in acute or severe bronchial asthma is not recommended.
• Sleep-disordered breathing: Use opioids with caution for chronic pain and titrate dosage cautiously in patients with risk factors for sleep-disordered breathing, including HF and obesity. Avoid opioids in patients with moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing (Dowell [CDC 2016]).
• Thyroid dysfunction: Use with caution in patients with thyroid dysfunction. Decrease initial dose in patients with hypothyroidism.
Concurrent drug therapy issues:
• Drug-drug interactions: Potentially significant interactions may exist, requiring dose or frequency adjustment, additional monitoring, and/or selection of alternative therapy. Consult drug interactions database for more detailed information.
• Sedatives: Effects may be potentiated when used with other CNS depressants (eg, sedatives, anxiolytics, hypnotics, neuroleptics, other opioids). In the setting of chronic pain, avoid prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines concurrently whenever possible; epidemiologic studies suggest there is an increased risk for potentially fatal overdose with concurrent use (Dowell [CDC 2016]).
• Debilitated patients: Use with caution in debilitated patients; there is a greater potential for critical respiratory depression, even at therapeutic dosages. Decrease initial dose.
• Elderly: Use with caution in the elderly; may be more sensitive to adverse effects. Decrease initial dose. Use opioids for chronic pain with caution in this age group; monitor closely due to an increased potential for risks, including certain risks such as falls/fracture, cognitive impairment, and constipation. Clearance may also be reduced in older adults (with or without renal impairment) resulting in a narrow therapeutic window and increasing the risk for respiratory depression or overdose (Dowell [CDC 2016]).
• Neonates: Neonatal withdrawal syndrome: After chronic maternal exposure to opioids, neonatal withdrawal syndrome may occur in the newborn; monitor neonate closely. Signs and symptoms include irritability, hyperactivity and abnormal sleep pattern, high pitched cry, tremor, vomiting, diarrhea, and failure to gain weight. Onset, duration, and severity depend on the drug used, duration of use, maternal dose, and rate of drug elimination by the newborn. Opioid withdrawal syndrome in the neonate, unlike in adults, may be life-threatening and should be treated according to protocols developed by neonatology experts.
• Abuse/misuse/diversion: Healthcare provider should be alert to problems of abuse, misuse, and diversion.
• Appropriate use: Chronic pain (outside of end-of-life or palliative care, active cancer treatment, sickle cell disease, or medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder) in outpatient setting in adults: Opioids should not be used as first-line therapy for chronic pain management (pain >3-month duration or beyond time of normal tissue healing) due to limited short-term benefits, undetermined long-term benefits, and association with serious risks (eg, overdose, MI, auto accidents, risk of developing opioid use disorder). Preferred management includes nonpharmacologic therapy and nonopioid therapy (eg. NSAIDs, acetaminophen, certain anticonvulsants and antidepressants). If opioid therapy is initiated, it should be combined with nonpharmacologic and non-opioid therapy, as appropriate. Prior to initiation, known risks of opioid therapy should be discussed and realistic treatment goals for pain/function should be established, including consideration for discontinuation if benefits do not outweigh risks. Therapy should be continued only if clinically meaningful improvement in pain/function outweighs risks. Therapy should be initiated at the lowest effective dosage using immediate-release opioids (instead of extended-release/long-acting opioids). Risk associated with use increases with higher opioid dosages. Risks and benefits should be re-evaluated when increasing dosage to ≥50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME)/day orally; dosages ≥90 MME/day orally should be avoided unless carefully justified (Dowell [CDC 2016]).
• Optimal regimen: An opioid-containing analgesic regimen should be tailored to each patient's needs and based upon the type of pain being treated (acute versus chronic), the route of administration, degree of tolerance for opioids (naive versus chronic user), age, weight, and medical condition. The optimal analgesic dose varies widely among patients; doses should be titrated to pain relief/prevention.
• Withdrawal: Concurrent use of agonist/antagonist analgesics may precipitate withdrawal symptoms and/or reduced analgesic efficacy in patients following prolonged therapy with mu opioid agonists. Abrupt discontinuation following prolonged use may also lead to withdrawal symptoms.
Pain relief, respiratory and mental status, blood pressure; signs of misuse, abuse, and addiction; signs or symptoms of hypogonadism or hypoadrenalism (Brennan 2013)
Alternate recommendations: Chronic pain (long-term therapy outside of end-of-life or palliative care, active cancer treatment, sickle cell disease, or medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder): Evaluate benefits/risks of opioid therapy within 1 to 4 weeks of treatment initiation and with dose increases. Re-evaluate benefits/risks every 3 months during therapy or more frequently in patients at increased risk of overdose or opioid use disorder. Urine drug testing is recommended prior to initiation and re-checking should be considered at least yearly (includes controlled prescription medications and illicit drugs of abuse). State prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) data should be reviewed by clinicians prior to initiation and periodically during therapy (frequency ranging from every prescription to every 3 months) (Dowell [CDC 2016]).
Pregnancy Risk Factor
Adverse events have been observed in animal reproduction studies. Use during labor may cause respiratory depression in the neonate and use for this purpose is not recommended by the manufacturer. If chronic opioid exposure occurs in pregnancy, adverse events in the newborn (including withdrawal) may occur; monitoring of the neonate is recommended. The minimum effective dose should be used if opioids are needed (Chou, 2009). Neonatal abstinence syndrome following opioid exposure may present with autonomic (eg, fever, temperature instability), gastrointestinal (eg, diarrhea, vomiting, poor feeding/weight gain), or neurologic (eg, high-pitched crying, increased muscle tone, irritability, seizure, tremor) symptoms (Dow, 2012; Hudak, 2012).
• Discuss specific use of drug and side effects with patient as it relates to treatment. (HCAHPS: During this hospital stay, were you given any medicine that you had not taken before? Before giving you any new medicine, how often did hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for? How often did hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?)
• Patient may experience fatigue, flushing, vomiting, or nausea. Have patient report immediately to prescriber signs of serotonin syndrome (dizziness, severe headache, agitation, hallucinations, tachycardia, arrhythmia, flushing, tremors, sweating a lot, change in balance, severe nausea, or severe diarrhea), signs of adrenal gland problems (severe nausea, vomiting, severe dizziness, passing out, muscle weakness, severe fatigue, mood changes, lack of appetite, or weight loss), sexual dysfunction, amenorrhea, decreased libido, fertility problems, severe dizziness, passing out, confusion, severe constipation, severe loss of strength and energy, mood changes, difficult urination, tachycardia, bradycardia, seizures, or arrhythmia (HCAHPS).
• Educate patient about signs of a significant reaction (eg, wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat). Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Patient should consult prescriber for additional questions.
Intended Use and Disclaimer: Should not be printed and given to patients. This information is intended to serve as a concise initial reference for healthcare professionals to use when discussing medications with a patient. You must ultimately rely on your own discretion, experience and judgment in diagnosing, treating and advising patients.
More about levorphanol
- Other brands: Levo-Dromoran