Methadone as a Coanalgesic for Palliative Care Cancer Patients.
J Palliat Med. 2016 Jul 11;
Authors: Courtemanche F, Dao D, Gagné F, Tremblay L, Néron A
BACKGROUND: Methadone offers many advantages for treating cancer pain. However, its pharmacokinetic profile makes its use as a full-dose opioid challenging.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of low-dose methadone as an adjunct to opioids in the treatment of cancer pain in palliative care patients.
DESIGN: A cohort was followed retrospectively for up to 60 days after the initiation of methadone as a coanalgesic.
SETTING/SUBJECTS: Patients were eligible if they were prescribed methadone as a coanalgesic for cancer pain management and followed by the palliative care team.
MEASUREMENTS: The primary efficacy end point was reduction of pain intensity (11-point numerical rating scale). Variables associated with pain intensity reduction were explored using logistic regressions. Adverse events were collected throughout the follow-up.
RESULTS: Seventy-two of the 146 subjects (49%) qualified as significant responders (≥30% reduction in pain intensity). Median time to significant response was seven days, and pain intensity on the day of methadone initiation predicted the response to treatment. The most frequently reported adverse events were drowsiness, confusion, constipation, and nausea. As expected in a palliative care population, there was a substantial amount of missing data.
CONCLUSIONS: A significant reduction in pain can be seen rapidly after the addition of methadone as a coanalgesic, particularly among patients with high pain intensity. More studies are needed to corroborate the efficacy of methadone as an adjunct to opioids.
PMID: 27399839 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]