Morphine sulphate long-acting tablets: Discontinuation

Supplies of morphine sulphate are likely exhausted.

Morphine sulphate long-acting tablets are primarily used for treatment of acute and chronic pain, as well as for pain in palliative care.

The supplier (Teva) has indicated that supplies are low of Arrow-Morphine LA tab long-acting tablets:

  • 100 mg (Pharmacode 2383926) – stock exhausted, delisted 1 June 2020 

  • 10 mg (Pharmacode 2383934) – stock exhausted, delisted 1 October 2020.

  • 30 mg (Pharmacode 2383942) – stock likely to run out by September 2020, no delist date as yet.

  • 60 mg (Pharmacode 2383918) – stock likely to run out by September 2020, no delist date as yet.

Morphine sulphate long-acting tablets will no longer be available once the current supply runs out. 

This discontinuation only affects the tablets. The capsules remain available. 

About 4,000 patients are dispensed morphine sulphate long-acting tablets each year. We estimate that approximately 1,400 of these patients get the medicine on a regular basis.

Information for people taking morphine sulphate 

You will need to talk to your health care professional about a different treatment for your pain.

PHARMAC cannot give clinical advice to individuals. Information on this page is advice to prescribers about what alternatives are available.

Information for prescribers 

Prescribers need to:

  • not start any new patients on morphine sulphate long-acting tablets
  • transition patients currently on morphine sulphate long-acting tablets to alternative treatments.

Alternative treatments

We have received advice from the Analgesics Subcommittee of the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (one of our expert clinical advisory groups).

The Subcommittee advised that morphine sulphate long-acting capsules would be an appropriate alternative.

The capsule contains the same active ingredient as the tablet and is also taken twice daily. Currently, 20,000 patients use the long-acting capsules, in contrast to the 4,000 taking the long-acting tablets.   

This information is for health professionals and summarises the clinical advice we received on possible alternatives to morphine sulphate long-acting tablets. 

More information about prescribing opioids

BPACnz has published information for prescribers about using strong opiods for pain relief.

Who to contact

If you are taking morphine sulphate, talk to your health care professional about suitable alternatives to treat your pain. 

If you have other questions about this discontinuation, contact enquiry@pharmac.govt.nz