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Papers of the Week

2022 May 25

BMC Vet Res



Pharmacokinetics, adverse effects and effects on thermal nociception following administration of three doses of codeine to horses.


Knych HK, Stucker K, Gretler SR, Kass PH, McKemie DS
BMC Vet Res. 2022 May 25; 18(1):196.
PMID: 35614473.


In humans, codeine is a commonly prescribed analgesic that produces its therapeutic effect largely through metabolism to morphine. In some species, analgesic effects of morphine have also been attributed to the morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G) metabolite. Although an effective analgesic, administration of morphine to horses produces dose-dependent neuroexcitation at therapeutic doses. Oral administration of codeine at a dose of 0.6 mg/kg has been shown to generate morphine and M6G concentrations comparable to that observed following administration of clinically effective doses of morphine, without the concomitant adverse effects observed with morphine administration. Based on these results, it was hypothesized that codeine administration would provide effective analgesia with decreased adverse excitatory effects compared to morphine. Seven horses received a single oral dose of saline or 0.3, 0.6 or 1.2 mg/kg codeine or 0.2 mg/kg morphine IV (positive control) in a randomized balanced 5-way cross-over design. Blood samples were collected up to 72 hours post administration, codeine, codeine 6-glucuronide, norcodeine morphine, morphine 3-glucuronide and M6G concentrations determined by liquid chromatography- mass spectrometry and pharmacokinetic analysis performed. Pre- and post-drug related behavior, locomotor activity, heart rate and gastrointestinal borborygmi were recorded. Response to noxious stimuli was evaluated by determining thermal threshold latency.