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Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2003 Mar;17(1):91-110.

Opioid and non-opioid analgesics.

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Anaesthesia in Pharmacology, University of Western Australia, MRF Building, Royal Perth Hospital, GPO Box X2213, Perth WA 6847, Australia.


Opioids are the most potent analgesics. Toxicity results either from effects mediated by variation in affinity and intrinsic efficacy at specific opioid receptors or, rarely, from a direct toxic effect of the drugs. For some adverse effects, opioids exhibit a 'dual pharmacology' whereby these effects are usually observed only in pain-free individuals, and are not seen in patients in pain. Paracetamol, although generally very safe in therapeutic doses, displays potentially fatal toxicity in overdose requiring specific treatment. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are known to act by inhibiting COX-1 and COX-2 isoenzymes to various degrees. Toxicity arises primarily from undesired inhibition at these enzyme sites. Knowledge of the mechanism of action of these drugs is fundamental to the understanding of their potential for toxicity, the details of which are still emerging.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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