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Opioid Potency Comparison

Medical Editor: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FAAEM

Narcotic medications vary in their potency. Each drug has a different prescription range of effectiveness and the number of milligrams in the dosage is not an indiucation of how strong the emdication might be.For example, the dose of hydormorphone (dialudid) needs to be only 1.5 mg to equal the effectiveness of 10mg of morphine.

In general medications given intravenously or by intramuscular injection will have a quicker onset of action than medications given orally.

Medication Route Time to Effect Duration Routine Dosage Equivalent
Morphine Sulphate
 
IV
IM
PO
5-10 min
15-30 min
30-60 min
3-6 hours
3-6 hours
3-6 hours
10 mg IV
10 mg IM
30-60 mg PO
Oxycodone PO 10-15 min 4-6 hours 10-20 mg PO
Hydrocodone PO 30-60 min 4-6 hours 15-30 mg PO
Fentanyl IV Immediate 1-2 hours 50 micrograms IV
Hydromorphone

 
PO
IV
IM
15-30 min
15 min
15 min
4-6 hours
4-6 hours
4-6 hours
7.5 mg
1.5 mg
1.5 mg
Codeine PO 30-60 min 4-6 hours 200 mg
Nalbuphine IM 15 min 3-6 hours 10 mg

IV = intravenous
IM = intramuscular
PO = orally

Routine dosage equivalent to Morphine 10 mg IM or IV


Last Editorial Review: 3/12/2008

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