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J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2010 Jun;24(2):149-51. doi: 10.3109/15360281003743294.

Topical cocaine for relief of mucosal pain.

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Hospice of Lancaster County, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17604-4125, USA.


Painful mucosal lesions negatively affect quality of life. When located in the oral cavity, they can cause pain that interferes with speech and swallowing. Acute pain from intra-oral lesions is difficult to treat with conventional methods such as systemic opioids or viscous lidocaine. These cases exemplify a safe, fast and effective method for treating painful mouth lesions that are not responsive to standard treatments. Mr. D and Mr. G had from painful oral lesions caused by squamous cell carcinoma. Severe pain interfered with their ability to speak and swallow, resulting in poor nutrition and dehydration. 4% liquid cocaine, self-applied topically to the open mouth sores, resulted in relief within minutes in both cases. Repeated dosing every six hours allowed both patients to restart oral nutrition without any reported side effects. Topical cocaine has not been described for repeated dosing for oral or other mucosal pain. Potential side effects of mucosal administration include gingival recession and erythematous lesions. If the recommended topical doses are exceeded, liquid cocaine may be absorbed systemically causing a stimulant response or addiction. When used appropriately, however, this intervention can result in a dramatic improvement in quality of life and functional status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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