MORPHINE sustained-release (MSR) oral

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    Prescription under medical supervision

    Therapeutic action

    • Centrally acting opioid analgesic


    • Severe and persistent pain, especially cancer pain

    Forms and strengths

    • 10 mg, 30 mg and 60 mg sustained-release capsules or tablets


    • Usually, the effective daily dose is determined during the initial treatment with immediate-release morphine (MIR). When changing from MIR to MSR, the daily dose remains the same.
      For example, if the effective dose of MIR is 20 mg every 4 hours (120 mg daily), the dose of MSR is 60 mg every 12 hours (120 mg daily).
    • If treatment is initiated directly with MSR:
      • Child over 6 months: initially 0.5 mg/kg every 12 hours
      • Adult: initially 30 mg every 12 hours


    Adjust the dose if necessary, increasing the dose by 50% per day until pain relief is obtained.


    • Patients stabilized on MSR may require rescue doses of MIR in the event of episodic (breakthrough) pain. A rescue dose corresponds to 10% of the daily MSR dose. If a patient regularly requires more than 3 rescue doses per day, increase the daily MSR dose by the sum of rescue doses.


    • According to clinical response. Do not stop long-term treatment abruptly. Decrease doses progressively to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

    Contra-indications, adverse effects, precautions

    • Do not administer to patients with severe respiratory impairment or decompensated hepatic impairment.
    • Do not initiate treatment with the sustained-release formulation in elderly patients or those with renal or hepatic impairment. Begin treatment with the immediate release formulation (MIR).
    • May cause:
      • dose-related sedation and respiratory depression, nausea, vomiting, constipation, urinary retention, confusion, raised intracranial pressure, pruritus;
      • in the event of overdose: excessive sedation, respiratory depression, coma.
    • Management of respiratory depression includes assisted ventilation and/or administration of naloxone. Monitor patient closely for several hours.
    • Administer with caution to patients with respiratory impairment, head injury, raised intracranial pressure, uncontrolled epilepsy or urethroprostatic disorders.
    • Do not combine with opioid analgesics with mixed agonist-antagonist activity such as buprenorphine, nalbuphine, pentazocine (competitive action).
    • Increased risk of sedation and respiratory depression, when combined with alcohol and drugs acting on the central nervous system: benzodiazepines (diazepam, etc.), neuroleptics (chlorpromazine, haloperidol, etc.), antihistamines (chlorphenamine, promethazine), phenobarbital, etc.
    • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: no contra-indication. The child may develop withdrawal symptoms, respiratory depression and drowsiness when the mother receives morphine at the end of the 3rd trimester and during breast-feeding. In these situations, administer with caution, for a short period, at the lowest effective dose, and monitor the child.


    • Administer an appropriate laxative (e.g. lactulose) if analgesic treatment continues more than 48 hours.
    • Do not crush or chew capsules. They can be opened and emptied into food.
    • Morphine is on the list of narcotics: follow national regulations.


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