hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Dilaudid-5, Dilaudid-HP Injection, Exalgo) for Pain

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is hydromorphone hydrochloride (HCI), and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Hydromorphone hydrochloride (HCI)  is an opioid narcotic pain-reliever similar to oxycodone, morphine, methadone, fentanyl, and other opioids. Hydromorphone, like other opioids, stimulates receptors on nerves in the brain to increase the threshold to pain (increasing the amount of stimulation it takes to feel pain) and reduce the perception of pain (the perceived importance of the pain).

What brand names are available for hydromorphone HCI?

Dilaudid, Dilaudid-5, Dilaudid-HP Injection, and Exalgo are the available brands for hydromorphone hydrochloride.

Is it available as a generic drug?

Yes, hydromorphone is available as in generic form.

Do I need a prescription for this drug?

Yes, you need a prescription from your doctor or other health care professional for this hyromorphone hydrochloride.

What are the uses for hydromorphone HCI?

Hydromorphone is used for management of acute pain and moderate-to-severe chronic pain in patients when use of an opioid is appropriate.

Hydromorphone HCI BLACK BOX WARNING

  • Dilaudid-HP Injection should not be confused with other types of Dilaudid injections or other opioids, as overdose and death could result.
  • Avoid dosing errors from confusion between mg and mL when dispensing, prescribing, or administering the oral solution. Dosing errors can result in accidental overdose and death.
  • Hydromorphone exposes patients to risks of addictions, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death.
  • Patients should be monitored closely because serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression may occur.
  • Prolonged use of hydromorphone during pregnancy can result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated. Pregnant woman should be advised of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and appropriate treatment should be available.
  • Combining opioids with benzodiazepines, alcohol, or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants may result in severe sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death.

Hydromorphone HCI side effects

Common side effects

Other serious side effects

  • Other serious and important side effects of hydromorphone are respiratory depression and trouble breathing.
  • Since hydromorphone is a controlled narcotic, it carries a box warning of respiratory depression and abuse potential. Use with alcohol or other medications affecting central nervous system can worsen respiratory depression and may lead to death.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/9/2017
Cold & Flu Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

RxList Logo

Need help identifying pills and medications?

Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors