, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 319-323

Analgesic effect and plasma concentrations of codeine and morphine after two dose levels of codeine following oral surgery

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A double blind randomised cross over investigation was carried out in 25 male patients undergoing two oral surgical extractions, one for each lower wisdom tooth. The two extractions were performed about 6 weeks apart and were carried out under local anaesthesia. One hour after each extraction the patients randomly received 90 or 45 mg codeine. During the following 5 h the patients rated the intensity of their pain on a visual analogue scale. Blood was simultaneously sampled and assayed for codeine and its metabolite morphine.

Mean pain intensity difference was just significantly higher after 90 mg codeine compared to 45 mg. The mean plasma concentrations of codeine and morphine were significantly higher after the 90 mg dose. However, for the two dose levels of codeine there was no obvious relationship between the difference in analgesic effect and the difference in the plasma concentration of codeine or morphine. The plasma concentrations of morphine were 2–3% of those of codeine and the levels were relatively low. Local formation of morphine from codeine within the human brain should therefore be investigated.

Four patients were unable to demethylate codeine to a detectable plasma concentration of morphine after 90 mg codeine. In those patients the analgesic effect during the first hours was better after 90 mg codeine than after 45 mg.

This suggests some analgesic effect of codeine itself.

The work was presented in part at the Fourth World Congress on Pain, Adelaide, Australia, April 1–6, 1990