Managing long-term high-dose prescription opioids in patients with non-cancer pain: The potential role of sublingual buprenorphine

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Opioids are frequently used to manage chronic non-cancer pain despite the lack of evidence of benefit and clear evidence of opioid-related harms. Patients undergoing high-dose opioid therapy are at risk of multiple complications, such as opioid toxicity, including fatal overdose and opioid dependence. OBJECTIVE: This article provides an overview of the pharmacology of buprenorphine and reviews current evidence for the use of high-dose sublingual buprenorphine-naloxone in the pharmacological management of patients at high risk of complications from chronic opioid use. DISCUSSION: Buprenorphine-naloxone is well tolerated by patients with chronic pain, and has the potential to improve pain scores and affective symptoms. This is exemplified in a case study based on these authors' experience in an addiction medicine setting. As the rates of pharmaceutical opioid prescribing and related harms continue to increase in Australia, buprenorphine-naloxone is a viable option to manage high-risk chronic pain patients who are unable to reduce or cease their opioid use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-343
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Journal of General Practice
Volume49
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

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