Safety Concerns About Methadone for Pain Relief


drug safetyGLENVIEW, Ill. -- A new report from Pain Treatment Topics -- "Methadone Analgesia Safety Overview & Patient Instructions Handout" -- provides essential background information and serves as a gateway to several innovative, evidence-based documents at

These guide healthcare providers in more safely and effectively prescribing methadone analgesia:

  • Safely Dosing Methadone for Chronic Pain
  • Avoiding Harmful Methadone-Drug Interactions
  • Methadone Cardiac Considerations and Precautions

Additionally, the 12-page "Overview" links to documents discussing the management of opioid-induced constipation, a common side effect, and how to safely discontinue opioid analgesics.

Proper education of patients, and their families or caretakers, to ensure therapeutic compliance and safety is addressed in a first-of-its-kind 2-page "Patient Instructions Handout" attached to the "Overview." Healthcare providers can reproduce this Handout and give it to patients whenever methadone analgesia is prescribed.

The document tells how to prevent harmful misuse and adverse events potentially associated with methadone.

According to Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD - Pain Treatment Topics Editor and author of the report - "Sensational news headlines continue to publicize methadone-associated overdoses and fatalities; often describing methadone as being widely abused and dangerous. Yet, oral methadone has an excellent record of effectiveness and safety in millions of patients during the 60-plus years since its development. It is suitable for treatment of moderate-to-severe acute or chronic pain, and it often works even when other analgesics - opioid or non-opioid - fail to do so."

Leavitt concludes, "The preponderance of clinical evidence indicates that methadone is a highly effective pain reliever, it is economical, and it is safe when properly prescribed and used. This new report provides guidance to help ensure safety objectives." is an independently-produced, open-access website providing evidence-based clinical news, information, research, and education on the causes and effective treatment of pain conditions. It is noncommercial and supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Mallinckrodt Inc., St. Louis, MO.