What Is Embeda (Morphine and Naltrexone)?

Embeda is a brand-name drug that is a combination of the opioid pain reliever morphine and naltrexone. The FDA approved the currently available version of Embeda in 2014, and it’s the only extended-release morphine drug of its kind. Embeda is intended to be prescribed to manage pain that’s severe and around-the-clock. It’s a long-term pain medication. Embeda is for use when non-opioid, or immediate-release opioids aren’t providing enough pain relief to patients, or they can’t handle these medications. Embeda isn’t intended for acute or as-needed pain management. The naltrexone is included in the Embeda formulation as a misuse-deterrent, although this inclusion doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of misuse. Naltrexone is believed to reduce or eliminate the euphoric effects of Embeda if it’s misused. Naltrexone can also trigger sudden withdrawal symptoms of someone who’s addicted to opioids. Naltrexone is classified as an opioid antagonist, meaning it works in the brain to prevent opioid effects. It can also reduce cravings for opioids in people going through withdrawal.

The naltrexone in Embeda is called sequestered naltrexone. When Embeda is used as directed and prescribed, the morphine is released into the system of the individual. The naltrexone then goes through the gastrointestinal tract but isn’t absorbed. Theoretically, when used as prescribed, the naltrexone would not affect the individual. However, if someone were to crush or chew the capsules, the naltrexone could reverse the effects of the morphine. The naltrexone in Embeda is encased in a specialized film that isn’t digested. However, it breaks open when there is a physical disruption to the morphine pellets. The effects of Embeda may be less appealing than with other opioid drugs, but that appeal may not disappear altogether.

The primary difference between Embeda and other extended-release versions of morphine is the misuse-deterrent naltrexone. Other extended-release versions of morphine that don’t contain naltrexone include Avinza and MS Contin. Embeda is available in a variety of strengths starting at 8 mg and going up to 100 mg. Embeda is usually taken every 24 hours for continual pain treatment. Despite the inclusion of misuse-deterring naltrexone, there are risks associated with the use of Embeda. This medication shouldn’t be prescribed to people with a history of drug misuse or mental health disorders. There is also a risk of overdose associated with the use of Embeda. Common possible side effects of Embeda can include nausea, vomiting, constipation, dizziness, drowsiness and abdominal pain.

What Does Embeda Look Like?

Embeda comes in capsule form, as is the case with most controlled-release and extended-release drugs. The capsules are different colors, based on the dosage. The following are the available Embeda dosages and a description of what they look like:

  • Embeda 20 mg: This capsule is yellow and is printed with Embeda 20.
  • Embeda 30 mg: This is a purple capsule, printed with Embeda 30.
  • Embeda 50 mg: The 50 mg Embeda capsule is blue and printed with Embeda 50.

Embeda 60 mg is a red capsule and is printed with Embeda and 60. An 80 mg dosage is peach-colored, and a 100 mg dose of Embeda is green. The amount of naltrexone is each dosage varies depending on the morphine strength.

Is Embeda Addictive?

Morphine is a powerful opioid pain reliever. Opioids are highly addictive drugs. The opioid drug class includes prescription pain medications as well as heroin. These drugs bind to specific receptors and can create a sense of euphoria in the individual. That then creates a pleasure and reward response, and a reinforcement response in the brain. These effects lead to addiction. Morphine on its own is very addictive as a result of the way it affects the brain. The theory is that since Embeda contains naltrexone and is designed to lower the risk of intranasal and oral misuse, the potential to become addicted is lower. However, despite the misuse-deterrent properties of Embeda, the risk of addiction isn’t altogether gone. Any opioid product, including anything with morphine, has the potential for misuse and addiction.

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.