Oral morphine in cancer pain: influences on morphine and metabolite concentration

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1990 Sep;48(3):236-44. doi: 10.1038/clpt.1990.145.


One hundred fifty-one patients with chronic cancer pain were studied during chronic treatment with oral morphine. Plasma concentrations of morphine and metabolites (M3G and M6G) were measured. The ratio of plasma morphine to metabolites was not affected by dose. Generalized linear interactive modeling analysis using morphine dose, age, sex, renal and hepatic dysfunction, and concomitant medication as explanatory variables accounted for 70% of the variance in plasma concentrations of morphine, morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G) and morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G). Increasing morphine dose was a significant factor for increased plasma concentrations of morphine, M3G, and M6G. Other significant factors were: age greater than 70 years (increased M3G and M6G plasma concentrations), plasma creatinine greater than 150 mumol/L (increased M3G and M6G plasma concentrations), male sex (decreased morphine and M6G plasma concentrations), raised creatinine plus coadministration of tricyclic antidepressants (increased M3G plasma concentrations), ranitidine (increased morphine plasma concentrations), and raised creatinine plus coadministration of ranitidine (increased M6G plasma concentrations).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morphine / blood
  • Morphine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Morphine / therapeutic use
  • Morphine Derivatives / blood
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / metabolism*
  • Sex Factors


  • Morphine Derivatives
  • morphine-6-glucuronide
  • Morphine
  • morphine-3-glucuronide