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Home / Drugs / Starting with M / Meperidine

A narcotic analgesic that can be used for the relief of most types of moderate to severe pain, including postoperative pain and the pain of labor. Prolonged use may lead to dependence of the morphine type; withdrawal symptoms appear more rapidly than with morphine and are of shorter duration. [PubChem]
Meperidine Hcl
Methyl phenylpiperidine carbonic acid ethyl ester
Adjuvants, Anesthesia
Opiate Agonists
Analgesics, Opioid
ManufacturersHospira inc
Sanofi aventis us llc
Abbott laboratories pharmaceutical products div
Astrazeneca lp
Baxter healthcare corp anesthesia and critical care
Baxter healthcare corp anesthesia critical care
Elkins sinn div ah robins co inc
International medication systems ltd
Parke davis div warner lambert co
Watson laboratories inc
International medication system
Mallinckrodt chemical inc
Roxane laboratories inc
Barr laboratories inc
Caraco pharmaceutical laboratories ltd
Duramed pharmaceuticals inc sub barr laboratories inc
Mallinckrodt inc
Mikah pharma llc
Mikart inc
Mutual pharmaceutical co inc
Vintage pharmaceuticals inc
Wyeth ayerst laboratories
PackagersAstraZeneca Inc.
Barr Pharmaceuticals
Baxter International Inc.
Bayer Healthcare
Caraco Pharmaceutical Labs
D.M. Graham Laboratories Inc.
Diversified Healthcare Services Inc.
Hawkins Inc.
Hospira Inc.
Lake Erie Medical and Surgical Supply
Mallinckrodt Inc.
Nucare Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Physicians Total Care Inc.
Roxane Labs
Sanofi-Aventis Inc.
Vintage Pharmaceuticals Inc.


Used to control moderate to severe pain.


Meperidine is a synthetic opiate agonist belonging to the phenylpiperidine class. Meperidine may produce less smooth muscle spasm, constipation, and depression of the cough reflex than equivalent doses of morphine. The onset of action is lightly more rapid than with morphine, and the duration of action is slightly shorter. The chemical structure of meperidine is similar to local anesthetics. Meperidine is recommended for relief of moderate to severe acute pain and has the unique ability to interrupt postoperative shivering and shaking chills induced by amphotericin B. Meperidine has also been used for intravenous regional anesthesia, peripheral nerve blocks and intraarticular, epidural and spinal analgesia. Meperidine is considered a second-line agent for the treatment of acute pain.

mechanism of action

Meperidine is primarily a kappa-opiate receptor agonist and also has local anesthetic effects. Meperidine has more affinity for the kappa-receptor than morphine. Opiate receptors are coupled with G-protein receptors and function as both positive and negative regulators of synaptic transmission via G-proteins that activate effector proteins. Binding of the opiate stimulates the exchange of GTP for GDP on the G-protein complex. As the effector system is adenylate cyclase and cAMP located at the inner surface of the plasma membrane, opioids decrease intracellular cAMP by inhibiting adenylate cyclase. Subsequently, the release of nociceptive neurotransmitters such as substance P, GABA, dopamine, acetylcholine and noradrenaline is inhibited. Opioids also inhibit the release of vasopressin, somatostatin, insulin and glucagon. Opioids close N-type voltage-operated calcium channels (OP2-receptor agonist) and open calcium-dependent inwardly rectifying potassium channels (OP3 and OP1 receptor agonist). This results in hyperpolarization and reduced neuronal excitability.


Meperidine is metabolized in the liver by hydrolysis to meperidinic acid followed by partial conjugation with glucuronic acid. Meperidine also undergoes N-demethylation to normeperidine, which then undergoes hydrolysis and partial conjugation. Normeperidine is about half as potent as meperidine, but it has twice the CNS stimulation effects.


The oral bioavailability of meperidine in patients with normal hepatic function is 50-60% due to extensive first-pass metabolism. Bioavailability increases to 80-90% in patients with hepatic impairment (e.g. liver cirrhosis). Meperidine is less than half as effective when administered orally compared to parenteral administration. One study reported that 80-85% of the drug administered intramuscularly was absorbed within 6 hours of intragluteal injection in health adults; however, inter-individual variation and patient-specific variable appear to cause considerable variations in absorption upon IM injection.

half life

Initial distribution phase (t1/2 α) = 2-11 minutes; terminal elimination phase (t1/2 β) = 3-5 hours. In patients with hepatic dysfunction (e.g. liver cirrhosis or active viral hepatitis) the t1/2 β is prolonged to 7-11 hours.

route of elimination

Excreted in the urine. The proportion of drug that is excreted unchanged or as metabolites is dependent on pH. When urine pH is uncontrolled, 5-30% of the meperidine dose is excreted as normeperidine and approximately 5% is excreted unchanged. Meperidine and normeperidine are found in acidic urine, while the free and conjugated forms of meperidinic and normperidinic acids are found in alkaline urine.

drug interactions

Chlorpromazine: Increased sedation and hypotension

Desvenlafaxine: Increased risk of serotonin syndrome. Monitor for symptoms of serotonin syndrome.

Donepezil: Possible antagonism of action

Galantamine: Possible antagonism of action

Isocarboxazid: Potentially fatal adverse effects

Isoniazid: Possible episodes of hypotension

Moclobemide: Increased CNS toxicity (can cause death)

Phenelzine: Potentially fatal adverse effects

Rasagiline: Increased risk of serotonin syndrome. Concomitant use should be avoided.

Ritonavir: Ritonavir increases the levels of analgesic

Rivastigmine: Possible antagonism of action

Selegiline: Potentially fatal adverse effects

Sibutramine: Possible serotoninergic syndrome

Tipranavir: Tipranavir may increase the adverse/toxic effects of Meperidine. Consider alternate therapy or monitor for Meperidine toxicity during concomitant use.

Tramadol: Increased risk of serotonin syndrome. Monitor for symptoms of serotonin syndrome.

Tranylcypromine: Increased risk of serotonin syndrome. Concomitant use should be avoided.

Trazodone: Increased risk of serotonin syndrome. Monitor for symptoms of serotonin syndrome.

Trimipramine: Increased risk of serotonin syndrome. Monitor for symptoms of serotonin syndrome.

Triprolidine: The CNS depressants, Triprolidine and Meperidine, may increase adverse/toxic effects due to additivity. Monitor for increased CNS depressant effects during concomitant therapy.

Venlafaxine: Increased risk of serotonin syndrome. Monitor for symptoms of serotonin syndrome.

Zolmitriptan: Use of two serotonin modulators, such as zolmitriptan and meperidine, increases the risk of serotonin syndrome. Consider alternate therapy or monitor for serotonin syndrome during concomitant therapy.