Clinical pharmacokinetics of morphine

J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2002;16(4):5-18. doi: 10.1080/j354v16n04_02.


Morphine, the most widely used mu-opioid analgesic for acute and chronic pain, is the standard against which new analgesics are measured. A thorough understanding of the pharmacokinetics of morphine is required in order to safely and effectively use this analgesic in a wide variety of patients with different levels of organ function. A MEDLINE search was conducted to identify literature published between 1966 and January 2002 relevant to the pharmacokinetics of morphine. These publications were reviewed and the literature summarized regarding unique and clinically important elements of morphine disposition relative to its parenteral administration (including intravenous, intramuscular, subcutaneous, epidural and intrathecal administration), absorption profile (immediate release, controlled release, and sublingual/buccal, and rectal administration), distribution, and its metabolism/excretion. Special populations, including infants, elderly, and those with renal/liver failure, have a unique morphine pharmacokinetic profile that must be taken into account in order to maximize analgesic efficacy and reduce the risk of adverse events.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Biotransformation
  • Child
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Dosage Forms
  • Drug Interactions
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Morphine / administration & dosage
  • Morphine / metabolism
  • Morphine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Dosage Forms
  • Morphine