Research gaps on methadone harms and comparative harms: Findings from a review of the evidence for an American Pain Society and College on Problems of drug dependence clinical practice guideline

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Abstract

Methadone-associated overdose deaths have dramatically increased. In order to inform an evidence-based clinical practice guideline to improve safety of methadone prescribing, the American Pain Society commissioned a systematic review on various aspects related to methadone safety. We searched Ovid MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, and PsycINFO databases through July 2012 to identify studies that addressed 1 or more of 17 Key Questions related to methadone safety; an update search was performed in 2014 for new studies related to methadone-related overdose and risks related to cardiac arrhythmias. A total of 168 studies met inclusion criteria for the review. The purpose of this article is to highlight critical research gaps in the literature related to methadone safety. These include lack of evidence on risk factors associated with methadone-overdose deaths and adverse events, limited evidence to evaluate the comparative mortality of methadone versus other opioids, insufficient evidence to fully understand the harms associated with methadone use during pregnancy, and insufficient evidence to determine effects of risk mitigation strategies such as electrocardiogram monitoring, strategies for managing patients with prolonged QTc intervals on screening, urine drug testing, alternative dosing regimens for initiation and titration of therapy, and timing of follow-up. Therefore, most guideline recommendations are based on weak evidence. More research is needed to guide safe methadone prescribing practices and decrease the adverse events associated with methadone. Perspective This article summarizes critical research gaps in the literature related to methadone safety, based on a systematic review commissioned by the American Pain Society. Critical research gaps were identified in a number of areas, highlighting the need for additional research to guide safer prescribing and risk mitigation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-376
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

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Methadone
Practice Guidelines
Substance-Related Disorders
Research
Safety
Preclinical Drug Evaluations
Evidence-Based Practice
MEDLINE
Opioid Analgesics
Libraries
Cardiac Arrhythmias
Electrocardiography
Urine
Databases
Guidelines

Keywords

  • evidence-based medicine
  • harms
  • Methadone
  • research gaps
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

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abstract = "Methadone-associated overdose deaths have dramatically increased. In order to inform an evidence-based clinical practice guideline to improve safety of methadone prescribing, the American Pain Society commissioned a systematic review on various aspects related to methadone safety. We searched Ovid MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, and PsycINFO databases through July 2012 to identify studies that addressed 1 or more of 17 Key Questions related to methadone safety; an update search was performed in 2014 for new studies related to methadone-related overdose and risks related to cardiac arrhythmias. A total of 168 studies met inclusion criteria for the review. The purpose of this article is to highlight critical research gaps in the literature related to methadone safety. These include lack of evidence on risk factors associated with methadone-overdose deaths and adverse events, limited evidence to evaluate the comparative mortality of methadone versus other opioids, insufficient evidence to fully understand the harms associated with methadone use during pregnancy, and insufficient evidence to determine effects of risk mitigation strategies such as electrocardiogram monitoring, strategies for managing patients with prolonged QTc intervals on screening, urine drug testing, alternative dosing regimens for initiation and titration of therapy, and timing of follow-up. Therefore, most guideline recommendations are based on weak evidence. More research is needed to guide safe methadone prescribing practices and decrease the adverse events associated with methadone. Perspective This article summarizes critical research gaps in the literature related to methadone safety, based on a systematic review commissioned by the American Pain Society. Critical research gaps were identified in a number of areas, highlighting the need for additional research to guide safer prescribing and risk mitigation strategies.",
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