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What Factors Affect MS Contin® Dosage?

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  • Written By: S. Berger
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2014
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MS Contin® is an extended release preparation of the opioid painkiller morphine. Morphine is a potent medication with the potential for addiction and dangerous side effects, so ensuring a correct MS Contin® dosage is essential when using this medication. The main factors affecting the dosage of this drug are the level of pain experienced as well as the tolerance of the patient. Other variables could potentially influence a dose of this medication, such as other drugs taken at the same time and pre-existing medical conditions.

This medication is intended to provide relief from chronic pain that remains roughly at a constant level. Patients typically begin with an immediate release painkiller of this type and eventually switch to an extended release formulation. This means that an individual's initial MS Contin® dosage will depend on their previous dosage of immediate release medication. The amount of immediate release medication is usually divided by two to determine the appropriate extended release dosage.

Initially, most patients have an MS Contin® dosage of either 15 milligram (mg) or 30 mg, taken every 12 hours. An individual taking less than 60 mg of immediate release morphine per day would typically receive a dosage of 15 mg MS Contin®, given two times a day. Instant release doses ranging from 60 mg to 120 mg per day convert to two doses of 30 mg MS Contin® daily.

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Over time, a higher MS Contin® dosage may be needed by some patients. This may be due to increased levels of pain that are inadequately controlled by the medication. Alternately, it could be due to the effects of tolerance. Opioid painkillers like morphine tend to produce tolerance to their analgesic, or pain-relieving, effects over time. Either one of these situations may lead to larger medication dosages being required.

Patients should not attempt to increase their MS Contin® dosage on their own. Morphine and other opioids may cause severe side effects including coma and breathing problems that can lead to death. Rapidly increasing an opioid dose may also put an individual at a greater risk of physical dependence or addiction.

Certain factors may require a decrease in the MS Contin® dosage used. Interactions with other medications, particularly central nervous system depressants, may lead a dose to be decreased in order to avoid dangerous levels of sedation. Liver or kidney conditions that slow the rate that morphine is cleared from the body may also require lower doses to keep this drug from building up in the blood stream after repeated doses.

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