Efficacy and Safety of Topical Morphine: A Narrative Review

Pharmaceutics. 2022 Jul 19;14(7):1499. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics14071499.


Background: Opioids are the cornerstone of the therapy used in both acute and chronic pain syndromes to treat pain of moderate to severe intensity. The knowledge that opioid receptors also occur in other tissues outside the central nervous system has created a possibility for the topical use of opioids. Thus, local analgesia may be obtained without systemic adverse effects.

Methods: A narrative review of scientific papers discussing the topical use of morphine was conducted. For this purpose, the PubMed, Google Scholar, Cochrane Library, and Mendeley databases were searched.

Results: The current knowledge on topical morphine does not allow for its recommended use in everyday medical practice, but suggests it may be effective, particularly in the treatment of ulcers and erosions of inflammatory etiology and painful skin lesions including persistent post-mastectomy pain due to breast cancer.

Conclusions: Topical morphine has its place beside other analgesics. An important issue is the practical possibility to meet the demand for topical formulations, which is limited by technical difficulties.

Keywords: adverse effects; analgesia; topical morphine.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.