Clinical effects of meperidine in hospitalized medical patients

J Clin Pharmacol. 1978 Apr;18(4):180-9. doi: 10.1002/j.1552-4604.1978.tb01591.x.


Of 26,294 hospitalized medical patients monitored in a drug surveillance program, 366 (1.4%) received meperidine orally and 3268 (12.4%) received meperidine parenterally during one or more admissions. Neoplastic disease was the most common category of primary diagnosis (43%) among oral recipients; among parenteral recipients cardiovascular and neoplastic diseases (23% each) were most common. Oral meperidine was prescribed almost exclusively (93%) for pain relief, whereas the parenteral drug also had substantial use (41%) as a diagnostic and preoperative adjunct. Oral meperidine was judged by attending physicians to have provided unsatisfactory pain relief in 22% of recipients, while parenteral meperidine was rated unsatisfactory in 11%. The drug was less effective in patients with a primary diagnosis of neoplastic disease than in patients with other primary diagnoses. Minor gastrointestinal disturbances were the most commonly reported adverse reactions among oral meperidine recipients (2.7%); among parenteral recipients central nervous system effects were most common (1.2%). Seven recipients had life-threatening adverse reactions. However, only two of these were judged definitely related to meperidine, and in both instances other drugs were also definitely implicated. Adverse reactions were dose related.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Drug Evaluation
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Parenteral
  • Meperidine / administration & dosage
  • Meperidine / adverse effects*
  • Meperidine / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged


  • Meperidine