Journal Scan

Morphine improves breathlessness in patients with COPD

Posted on

Low-dose morphine has a positive effect on chronic breathlessness in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

In this randomized clinical trial, 111 patients with COPD were randomly assigned to 10 mg of regular, oral sustained-release morphine or placebo twice daily for 4 weeks, with the possibility to increase to 3 times daily after 1 or 2 weeks.

In patients treated with morphine, CAT score was 2.18 points lower. Difference in Paco2 was 1.19 mm Hg higher in patients treated with morphine.

Breathlessness remained unchanged but worst breathlessness improved in patients with mMRC grades 3-4.

In the morphine group and placebo group, 9% and 2% of patients withdrew due to adverse effects. No morphine-related hospital admissions or deaths occurred.

Verberkt CA, van den Beuken-van Everdingen MHJ, Schols JMGA, Hameleers N, Wouters EFM, Janssen DJA. Effect of Sustained-Release Morphine for Refractory Breathlessness in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease on Health Status: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 17, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.3134