Subjective, behavioral and physiological responses to intravenous meperidine in healthy volunteers

James P. Zacny*, J. Lance Lichtor, Wendy Binstock, Dennis W. Coalson, Thomas Cutter, David C. Flemming, Beth Glosten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Meperidine is a mu opiate agonist that is frequently used to treat pain. We examined in healthy volunteers (N=10) the effects of intravenous meperidine (0, 0.25, 0.5, and 1.0 mg/kg) on mood and psychomotor performance. A randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover design was used in which subjects were injected with meperidine or saline in a double-blind fashion. Subjects completed several subjective effects questionnaires commonly used in abuse liability testing studies before drug injection and at periodic intervals for up to 5 h after drug injection. Subjects also completed several psychomotor tests. Meperidine produced a constellation of subjective effects in a dose-related fashion, including increases in ratings of "sedated," "coasting or spaced out" and "feel drug effect" ratings. Many of the drug's subjective effects persisted up to 4 or 5 h after administration of the 1.0 mg/kg dose. Drug liking ratings assessed on a visual analog scale were increased after meperidine injection in about half of the subjects (P=0.09). Eye-hand coordination was affected slightly by meperidine but other indices of psychomotor functioning were unaffected. Miosis increased in a dose-related fashion. Other physiological parameters, such as vital signs, were not affected by meperidine. We conclude that meperidine in healthy volunteers has robust and long-lasting effects on mood, but may have weaker effects on psychomotor performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-314
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 1993


  • Healthy volunteers
  • Humans
  • Meperidine
  • Miosis
  • Mood
  • Opiates
  • Psychomotor performance
  • Subjective effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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