Prescription Drug Information: DEMEROL (Page 3 of 7)

5.10 Severe Hypotension

DEMEROL Injection may cause severe hypotension including orthostatic hypotension and syncope in ambulatory patients. There is increased risk in patients whose ability to maintain blood pressure has already been compromised by a reduced blood volume or concurrent administration of certain CNS depressant drugs (e.g., phenothiazines or general anesthetics) [see Drug Interactions (7)]. Monitor these patients for signs of hypotension after initiating or titrating the dosage of DEMEROL Injection. In patients with circulatory shock, DEMEROL Injection may cause vasodilation that can further reduce cardiac output and blood pressure. Avoid the use of DEMEROL Injection in patients with circulatory shock.

5.11 Risks of Use in Patients with Increased Intracranial Pressure, Brain Tumors, Head Injury, or Impaired Consciousness

In patients who may be susceptible to the intracranial effects of CO2 retention (e.g., those with evidence of increased intracranial pressure or brain tumors), DEMEROL Injection may reduce respiratory drive, and the resultant CO2 retention can further increase intracranial pressure. Monitor such patients for signs of sedation and respiratory depression, particularly when initiating therapy with DEMEROL Injection.

Opioids may also obscure the clinical course in a patient with a head injury. Avoid the use of DEMEROL Injection in patients with impaired consciousness or coma.

5.12 Risks of Use in Patients with Gastrointestinal Conditions

DEMEROL Injection is contraindicated in patients with known or suspected gastrointestinal obstruction, including paralytic ileus.

The meperidine in DEMEROL Injection may cause spasm of the sphincter of Oddi. Opioids may cause increases in serum amylase. Monitor patients with biliary tract disease, including acute pancreatitis, for worsening symptoms.

5.13 Increased Risk of Seizures in Patients with Seizure Disorders

The meperidine in DEMEROL Injection may increase the frequency of seizures in patients with seizure disorders, and may increase the risk of seizures occurring in other clinical settings associated with seizures. Monitor patients with a history of seizure disorders for worsened seizure control during DEMEROL Injection therapy. Prolonged meperidine use may increase the risk of toxicity (e.g., seizures) from the accumulation of the meperidine metabolite, normeperidine.

5.14 Withdrawal

Avoid the use of mixed agonist/antagonist (e.g., pentazocine, nalbuphine, and butorphanol) or partial agonist (e.g., buprenorphine) analgesics in patients who are receiving a full opioid agonist analgesic, including DEMEROL Injection. In these patients, mixed agonist/antagonist and partial agonist analgesics may reduce the analgesic effect and/or precipitate withdrawal symptoms.

When discontinuing DEMEROL Injection, gradually taper the dosage [see Dosage and Administration (2.4)]. Do not abruptly discontinue DEMEROL Injection [see Drug Abuse and Dependence (9.3)].

5.15 Risks of Driving and Operating Machinery

DEMEROL Injection may impair the mental or physical abilities needed to perform potentially hazardous activities such as driving a car or operating machinery. Warn patients not to drive or operate dangerous machinery unless they are tolerant to the effects of DEMEROL Injection and know how they will react to the medication.

5.16 Risks in Patients with Pheochromocytoma

In patients with pheochromocytoma, meperidine has been reported to provoke hypertension.

5.17 Risk of Use in Patients with Atrial Flutter and Other Supraventricular Tachycardias

DEMEROL Injection should be used with caution in patients with atrial flutter and other supraventricular tachycardias because of a possible vagolytic action which may produce a significant increase in the ventricular response rate.

5.18 Intravenous Use

If necessary, meperidine may be given intravenously, but the injection should be given very slowly, preferably in the form of a diluted solution. Rapid intravenous injection of narcotic analgesics, including meperidine, increases the incidence of adverse reactions; severe respiratory depression, apnea, hypotension, peripheral circulatory collapse, and cardiac arrest have occurred. Meperidine should not be administered intravenously unless a narcotic antagonist and the facilities for assisted or controlled respiration are immediately available. When meperidine is given parenterally, especially intravenously, the patient should be lying down.


The following serious adverse reactions are described, or described in greater detail, in other sections:

Addiction, Abuse, and Misuse [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)]
Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)]
Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)]
Interactions with Benzodiazepines or Other CNS Depressants [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)]
Adrenal Insufficiency [see Warnings and Precautions (5.9)]
Severe Hypotension [see Warnings and Precautions (5.10)]
Gastrointestinal Adverse Reactions [see Warnings and Precautions (5.12)]
Seizures [see Warnings and Precautions (5.13)]
Withdrawal [see Warnings and Precautions (5.14)]

The following adverse reactions associated with the use of meperidine were identified in clinical studies or postmarketing reports. Because some of these reactions were reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

The major hazards of meperidine, as with other opioid analgesics, are respiratory depression and, to a lesser degree, circulatory depression; respiratory arrest, shock, and cardiac arrest have occurred.

The most frequently observed adverse reactions include lightheadedness, dizziness, sedation, nausea, vomiting, and sweating. These effects seem to be more prominent in ambulatory patients and in those who are not experiencing severe pain. In such individuals, lower doses are advisable. Some adverse reactions in ambulatory patients may be alleviated if the patient lies down.

Other adverse reactions include:

Nervous System. Mood changes (e.g. euphoria, dysphoria), weakness, headache, agitation, tremor, involuntary muscle movements (e.g. muscle twitches, myoclonus), severe convulsions, transient hallucinations and disorientation, confusion, delirium, visual disturbances.

Inadvertent injection about a nerve trunk may result in sensory-motor paralysis which is usually, though not always, transitory.

Gastrointestinal. Dry mouth, constipation, biliary tract spasm.
Cardiovascular. Flushing of the face, tachycardia, bradycardia, palpitation, hypotension [see Warnings and Precautions (5.17)] , syncope, phlebitis following intravenous injection.
Genitourinary. Urinary retention.
Allergic. Pruritus, urticaria, other skin rashes, wheal and flare over the vein with intravenous injection.
Hypersensitivity reactions, anaphylaxis.
Histamine release leading to hypotension and/or tachycardia, flushing, sweating, and pruritus.Other. Pain at injection site; local tissue irritation and induration following subcutaneous injection, particularly when repeated; antidiuretic effect.

Serotonin syndrome: Cases of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition, have been reported during concomitant use of opioids with serotonergic drugs.

Adrenal insufficiency: Cases of adrenal insufficiency have been reported with opioid use, more often following greater than one month of use.

Androgen deficiency: Cases of androgen deficiency have occurred with chronic use of opioids [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.2)].


Table 1 includes clinically significant drug interactions with DEMEROL Injection.

Table 1: Clinically Significant Drug Interactions with DEMEROL Injection

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

Clinical Impact:

Meperidine is contraindicated in patients who are receiving monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors or those who have recently received such agents. Therapeutic doses of meperidine have occasionally precipitated unpredictable, severe, and occasionally fatal reactions in patients who have received such agents within 14 days. The mechanism of these reactions is unclear, but may be related to a preexisting hyperphenylalaninemia. Some have been characterized by coma, severe respiratory depression, cyanosis, and hypotension, and have resembled the syndrome of acute narcotic overdose. Serotonin syndrome with agitation, hyperthermia, diarrhea, tachycardia, sweating, tremors and impaired consciousness may also occur. In other reactions the predominant manifestations have been hyperexcitability, convulsions, tachycardia, hyperpyrexia, and hypertension.


Do not use DEMEROL Injection in patients taking MAOIs or within 14 days of stopping such treatment.

Intravenous hydrocortisone or prednisolone have been used to treat severe reactions, with the addition of intravenous chlorpromazine in those cases exhibiting hypertension and hyperpyrexia. The usefulness and safety of narcotic antagonists in the treatment of these reactions is unknown.


Phenelzine, tranylcypromine, linezolid

Inhibitors of CYP3A4 and CYP2B6

Clinical Impact:

The concomitant use of DEMEROL Injection and CYP3A4 or CYP2B6 inhibitors can increase the plasma concentration of meperidine, resulting in increased or prolonged opioid effects. These effects could be more pronounced with concomitant use of DEMEROL Injection and CYP2B6 and CYP3A4 inhibitors, particularly when an inhibitor is added after a stable dose of DEMEROL Injection is achieved [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4)].

After stopping a CYP3A4 inhibitor, as the effects of the inhibitor decline, the meperidine plasma concentration will decrease [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)] , resulting in decreased opioid efficacy or a withdrawal syndrome in patients who had developed physical dependence to meperidine.


If concomitant use is necessary, consider dosage reduction of DEMEROL Injection until stable drug effects are achieved. Monitor patients for respiratory depression and sedation at frequent intervals.

If a CYP3A4 or CYP2B6 inhibitor is discontinued, consider increasing the DEMEROL Injection dosage until stable drug effects are achieved.

Monitor for signs of opioid withdrawal.


Macrolide antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin), azole-antifungal agents (e.g. ketoconizole), protease inhibitors (e.g., ritonavir)

CYP3A4 and CYP2B6 Inducers

Clinical Impact:

The concomitant use of DEMEROL Injection and CYP3A4 inducers, or CYP2B6 inducers can decrease the plasma concentration of meperidine [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)] , resulting in decreased efficacy or onset of a withdrawal syndrome in patients who have developed physical dependence to meperidine [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4) ].

After stopping a CYP3A4 or CYP2B6 inducer, as the effects of the inducer decline, the meperidine plasma concentration will increase [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)] , which could increase or prolong both the therapeutic effects and adverse reactions, and may cause serious respiratory depression.


If concomitant use is necessary, consider increasing the DEMEROL Injection dosage until stable drug effects are achieved. Monitor for signs of opioid withdrawal. If a CYP3A4 or CYP2B6 inducer is discontinued, consider DEMEROL Injection dosage reduction and monitor for signs of respiratory depression.


Rifampin, carbamazepine, phenytoin

Benzodiazepines and Other Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants

Clinical Impact:

Due to additive pharmacologic effect, the concomitant use of benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants, including alcohol, can increase the risk of hypotension respiratory depression, profound sedation, coma, and death.


Reserve concomitant prescribing of these drugs for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options are inadequate. Limit dosages and durations to the minimum required. Follow patients closely for signs of respiratory depression and sedation [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)].


Benzodiazepines and other sedatives/hypnotics, anxiolytics, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, general anesthetics, antipsychotics, other opioids, alcohol.

Serotonergic Drugs

Clinical Impact:

The concomitant use of opioids with other drugs that affect the serotonergic neurotransmitter system has resulted in serotonin syndrome [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7)].


If concomitant use is warranted, carefully observe the patient, particularly during treatment initiation and dose adjustment. Discontinue DEMEROL Injection if serotonin syndrome is suspected.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), triptans, 5-HT3 receptor antagonists, drugs that affect the serotonin neurotransmitter system (e.g., mirtazapine, trazodone, tramadol), certain muscle relaxants (i.e., cyclobenzaprine, metaxalone), monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors (those intended to treat psychiatric disorders and also others, such as linezolid and intravenous methylene blue).

Mixed Agonist/Antagonist and Partial Agonist Opioid Analgesics

Clinical Impact:

May reduce the analgesic effect of DEMEROL Injection and/or precipitate withdrawal symptoms.


Avoid concomitant use.


Butorphanol, nalbuphine, pentazocine, buprenorphine.

Muscle Relaxants

Clinical Impact:

Meperidine may enhance the neuromuscular blocking action of skeletal muscle relaxants and produce an increased degree of respiratory depression.


Monitor patients for signs of respiratory depression that may be greater than otherwise expected and decrease the dosage of DEMEROL Injection and/or the muscle relaxant as necessary.


Clinical Impact:

Opioids can reduce the efficacy of diuretics by inducing the release of antidiuretic hormone.


Monitor patients for signs of diminished diuresis and/or effects on blood pressure and increase the dosage of the diuretic as needed.

Anticholinergic Drugs

Clinical Impact:

The concomitant use of anticholinergic drugs may increase risk of urinary retention and/or severe constipation, which may lead to paralytic ileus.


Monitor patients for signs of urinary retention or reduced gastric motility when DEMEROL Injection is used concomitantly with anticholinergic drugs.


Clinical Impact:

The concomitant use of acyclovir may increase the plasma concentrations of meperidine and its metabolite, normeperidine.


If concomitant use of acyclovir and DEMEROL Injection is necessary, monitor patients for respiratory depression and sedation at frequent intervals.


Clinical Impact:

The concomitant use of cimetidine may reduce the clearance and volume of distribution of meperidine also the formation of the metabolite, normeperidine, in healthy subjects


If concomitant use cimetidine and DEMEROL Injection is necessary, monitor patients for respiratory depression and sedation at frequent intervals. provides trustworthy package insert and label information about marketed prescription drugs as submitted by manufacturers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Package information is not reviewed or updated separately by Every individual prescription drug label and package insert entry contains a unique identifier which can be used to secure further details directly from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and/or the FDA.

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