Author(s): Sticherling C, Schaer BA, Ammann P, Maeder M, Osswald S
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Abstract Methadone is a synthetic opioid frequently used in drug maintenance programs for heroin addicts. It prolongs the QT-interval and is mainly metabolized by the isoenzyme CYP3A4 of the hepatic cytochrome-P450-system, which is used by numerous other QT-prolonging agents. Its most severe side effect is the development of life-threatening Torsade de pointes ventricular tachycardia in the setting of a prolonged QT-interval. Since drug addicts are prone to concomitant medical conditions requiring additional medication as well as to continued abuse of cocaine, they are at higher risk for developing this major complication of methadone therapy. Before subjecting patients on methadone to other drugs, the QT-interval should be determined and it should be ascertained whether the new agent has the property to prolong the QT-interval or is metabolised by the cytochrome-P450 system.
This article was published in Swiss Med Wkly
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Case Reports