No excess harms from sustained-release morphine: A randomised placebo-controlled trial in chronic breathlessness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives: We aimed to identify and evaluate: (1) treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAE (worse or new since baseline)) and the subgroup of severe TEAEs in a placebo-controlled 7-day randomised trial of regular, low-dose, sustained-release oral morphine for chronic breathlessness and (2) clinical characteristics associated with TEAE. 

Methods: Safety analysis of trial data. Adults with chronic breathlessness (modified Medical Research Council breathlessness score ≥2) due to heart or lung disease, or cancer, not on regular opioids were eligible. Symptoms associated with opioids (TEAE of special interest) were systematically sought using Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) grading. Other harms could be reported at any time. The relationship between characteristics and presence of ≥1 TEAE of special interest was explored using univariable logistic regression analyses. 

Results: 1449/5624 (26%) Adverse Events from 279 participants were TEAE of which 150/1449 (10%) were severe (CTCAE grades 3-5). 1086/5624 (75%) were events of special interest of which 41/1086 (4%) were severe. Compared with placebo, morphine was not associated with more TEAE or severe TEAE of special interest (TEAE: OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.21 to 1.38, p=0.20; severe TEAE: OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.27 to 3.41, p=0.95) nor with CTCAE severity grade (χ2=4.39, p=0.50). Among the 26/150 (17%) with severe TEAEs, study withdrawal was more common in the morphine arm (18/26 (69%) morphine arm; 8/26 (30%) placebo arm). None of the severe TEAEs was a respiratory harm. 

Conclusions: Severe morphine-associated toxicity was uncommon and not associated with study arm. Clinical consequences were minor and self-limiting. 

Details

Authors
  • Miriam J. Johnson
  • Illary Sbizzera
  • Caroline Fairhurst
  • Belinda Fazekas
  • Meera Agar
  • Magnus Ekstrom
  • David C. Currow
Organisations
External organisations
  • Hull York Medical School
  • University of York
  • University of Technology Sydney
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Respiratory Medicine and Allergy

Keywords

  • chronic breathlessness, dyspnea, harms, Morphine, safety
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Supportive and Palliative Care
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Nov 12
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes