Author(s): Toombs JD, Kral LA
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Abstract Methadone is a synthetic opioid with potent analgesic effects. Although it is associated commonly with the treatment of opioid addiction, it may be prescribed by licensed family physicians for analgesia. Methadone's unique pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics make it a valuable option in the management of cancer pain and other chronic pain, including neuropathic pain states. It may be an appropriate replacement for opioids when side effects have limited further dosage escalation. Metabolism of and response to methadone varies with each patient. Transition to methadone and dosage titration should be completed slowly and with frequent monitoring. Conversion should be based on the current daily oral morphine equivalent dosage. After starting methadone therapy or increasing the dosage, systemic toxicity may not become apparent for several days. Some medications alter the absorption or metabolism of methadone, and their concurrent use may require dosing adjustments. Methadone is less expensive than other sustained-release opioid formulations.
This article was published in Am Fam Physician
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Toxicology