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What are narcotic analgesics?

What are narcotic analgesics?


Narcotic analgesic or opioid medications are used for treating moderate to severe pain.

Narcotic analgesics attach to receptors on nerves in the brain that increase the threshold to pain (i.e., the amount of stimulation it takes to feel pain), and reduce the perception of pain (the perceived importance of the pain). Most men and women take narcotic analgesics for short-periods of time until pain lessens or goes away. Some adults have chronic pain, which requires proper pain management since long term use can lead to drug addiction and tolerance (the need for increasing doses). Narcotic analgesics have a high potential for misuse, abuse, and diversion (to addicted persons).

What are examples narcotic analgesics of available in the US?


Examples of narcotic analgesics are:


•Hydrocodone (Zohydro ER),

•Oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone),


•Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo),

•Morphine (Avinza, Kadian, MSIR, MS Contin), and

•Fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic).


What are the side effects of narcotic analgesics?

Common side effects of narcotic analgesics are:





•headache, and

•dry mouth.

•Severe side effects of narcotic analgesics are:

•be trouble breathing (respiratory depression),

•chest pain, and

•abnormal heart beats.


•What drugs interact with narcotic analgesics?

•Narcotic analgesics should not be used with the following monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOIs because of severe reactions that can be fatal.

•phenelzine (Nardil),

•selegiline (Zelapar, Emsam, and Eldepryl),

•tranylcypromine (Parnate),

•procarbazine (Matulane),

•rasagiline (Azilect) and

•isocarboxazid (Marplan).

•Therefore, the discontinuation and initiation of narcotic analgesics and MAO inhibitors should be separated by at least 14 days.

•Narcotic analgesics should be used with caution with central nervous system depressant medications such as alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata) and alcohol because of increased risks of respiratory depression, low blood pressure, sedation, and in severe cases, coma and death.

Narcotic analgesics should be used with caution with medications that alter liver enzymes that affect the elimination of narcotic analgesics because levels of narcotic analgesics can increase or decrease in the body and thereby affect their therapeutic effectiveness.


What formulations of narcotic analgesics are available?

•Codeine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and methadone are available as immediate-release tablets.

•Oxycodone and morphine are available as extended-release tablets.

•Morphine and hydrocodone are available as extended-release capsules.

•Morphine also is available as intravenous, subcutaneous, and intramuscular injections.

•Fentanyl is available as an oral lozenge (Actiq) and topical patch (Duragesic).


What about taking narcotic analgesics during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies of narcotic analgesics to determine if their use is safe and effective use in pregnant women. Narcotic analgesics may pass through breast milk and affect the baby; therefore, they should be avoided in females who are breastfeeding.

REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information.



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