Pharma Tips

Use & Abuse of Pain Killers : Focus on Methadone

By: Pharma Tips | Views: 1324 | Date: 27-Jul-2013

Prescription painkiller overdoses were responsible for more than 15,500 deaths in 2009. While all prescription painkillers have contributed to an increase in overdose deaths over the last decade, methadone has played a central role in the epidemic. More than 30% of prescription painkiller deaths involve methadone, even though only 2% of painkiller prescriptions are for this drug. Six times as many people died of methadone overdoses in 2009 than a decade before.

Use & Abuse of Pain Killers : Focus on Methadone

Use & Abuse of Pain Killers : Focus on Mehthadone


Prescription painkiller overdoses were responsible for more than 15,500 deaths in 2009. While all prescription painkillers have contributed to an increase in overdose deaths over the last decade, methadone has played a central role in the epidemic. More than 30% of prescription painkiller deaths involve methadone, even though only 2% of painkiller prescriptions are for this drug. Six times as many people died of methadone overdoses in 2009 than a decade before.

Methadone has been used safely and effectively to treat drug addiction for decades. It has been prescribed increasingly as a painkiller because it is a generic drug that can provide long-lasting pain relief. But as methadone’s use for pain has increased, so has nonmedical use of the drug and the number of overdoses.

Methadone use poses risks
Methadone is frequently prescribed for pain.

Methadone, like other painkillers, is commonly prescribed for chronic problems like back pain even though it might not help these problems in the long run.

More than 4 million methadone prescriptions were written for pain in 2009, despite US Food and Drug Administration warnings about the risks associated with methadone.

Methadone is available as a low-cost drug. It is often listed as a preferred drug by many physicians.


























Methadone's risks include:
The difference between appropriate prescribed doses and dangerous doses of methadone is small.


























Methadone has special risks as a painkiller. For example, taking it more than 3 times a day can cause the drug to build up in a person’s body, leading to dangerously slowed breathing.

Methadone can seriously disrupt the heart’s rhythm.

Methadone can be particularly risky when used with tranquilizers or other prescription painkillers.

In one study, four in ten overdose deaths involving single prescription painkillers involved methadone, twice as many as any other prescription painkiller.





















What can we do:

Follow guidelines for prescribing methadone and other prescription painkillers correctly, including
Screening and monitoring for substance abuse and mental health problems.

Prescribing only the quantity needed based on the expected length of pain.

Using prescription drug monitoring programs to identify patients who are misusing or abusing methadone or other prescription painkillers.

Monitor patients on high doses for heart rhythm problems.

Educating patients on how to safely use, store, and dispose of methadone and how to prevent and recognize overdoses
Source: CDC
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