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Pharmacol Rep. 2010 Jul-Aug;62(4):578-91.

Role of oxycodone and oxycodone/naloxone in cancer pain management.

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Department of Palliative Medicine, Poznań University of Medical Sciences, Osiedle Rusa 25 A, PL 61-245 Poznań, Poland.


Oxycodone is a valued opioid analgesic, which may be administered either as the first strong opioid or when other strong opioids are ineffective. In case of insufficient analgesia and/or intense adverse effects such as sedation, hallucinations and nausea/vomiting a switch from another opioid to oxycodone might be beneficial. Oxycodone is administered to opioid-naive patients with severe pain and to patients who were unsuccessfully treated with weak opioids, namely tramadol, codeine and dihydrocodeine. Oxycodone effective analgesia may be attributed to its affinity to μ and possibly κ opioid receptors, rapid penetration through the blood-brain barrier and higher concentrations in brain than in plasma. Oxycodone displays high bioavailability after oral administration and may be better than morphine in patients with renal impairment due to the decreased production of active metabolites. Recently an oral controlled-release oxycodone formulation was introduced in Poland. Another new product that was launched recently is a combination of prolonged-release oxycodone with prolonged-release naloxone (oxycodone/naloxone tablets). The aim of this review is to outline the pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties, drug interactions, dosing rules, adverse effects, equianalgesic dose ratio with other opioids and clinical studies of oxycodone in patients with cancer pain. The potential role of oxycodone/naloxone in chronic pain management and its impact on the bowel function is also discussed.

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