Ultram ER is a prescription medication used for treating moderate to moderately severe chronic pain. The drug comes in the form of extended-release tablets, and is only taken once a day. Because it is similar to morphine, it has the potential for physical and psychological dependence and abuse. Possible side effects of the medication include constipation, drowsiness, and nausea.
What Is Ultram ER?
Ultram® ER (tramadol ER) is a long-acting pain reliever that is taken just once a day. It comes in extended-release tablets and is approved for treating moderate to moderately severe chronic pain in adults.
Ultram ER is made by Biovail Corporation for PriCara, a unit of Ortho-McNeil, Inc.
How Does It Work?
Ultram ER tablets are specially designed to release the medication continuously over a 24-hour period. Ultram ER contains tramadol, a drug that is classified as a "centrally acting opioid analgesic." This means that it works in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), acts much like morphine in the body, and relieves pain. Much like morphine, Ultram ER binds to certain opioid receptors in the body known as μ ("mu") receptors.
Ultram ER also works a little like some antidepressant medications by inhibiting the reuptake of certain brain chemicals (serotonin and norepinephrine). Serotonin and norepinephrine are two of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another. As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release serotonin or norepinephrine. The serotonin or norepinephrine enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it.
When enough serotonin or norepinephrine reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any serotonin or norepinephrine that remains in the gap between cells. This is called "reuptake."
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Ultram ER [package insert]. Raritan, NJ: PriCara;2007 December.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed October 21, 2011.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 8th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2008.
National Library of Medicine (US). Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMED). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT. Accessed April 8, 2009.
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