Other Than In Pill Form, How Else Can Pain Medicines Be Administered?

Dr. Portenoy answers the question: 'How Else Can Pain Medicines Be Given?'

— -- Question: Other Than In Pill Form, How Else Can Pain Medicines Be Administered?

Answer: During the past 25 years, there has been a great deal of progress made in creating new delivery systems for medications.

Now what is meant by that? Medicines have typically been given orally in tablets and in patients who are in institutions, intravenously through a cannula that is placed into an IV. In recent years however, there've been a variety of new systems developed in order to get medicines into the body in a way that bypasses the GI track but doesn't necessarily involve the placement of an IV.

In the realm of opioid therapy, narcotic therapy for example, there has been developed a new patch that sits on the skin and delivers medicine directly through the skin. More recently, there have been developed medicines specifically for breakthrough pain that deliver narcotic drugs directly through the mucus membranes of the mouth.

Other types of delivery systems are also coming along. There are small devices that drive medicine through the skin using an electrical current. That's called iontopherisis. And a product has recently been approved so that that approach can be used to treat acute pain in the hospital.

There are other types of approaches that deliver the medication as an aerosolized spray that patients can breathe in.

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