Research Article

Patient-controlled dose regimen of methadone for chronic cancer pain.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 282 doi: (Published 07 March 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:771
  1. J Säwe,
  2. J Hansen,
  3. C Ginman,
  4. P Hartvig,
  5. P A Jakobsson,
  6. M I Nilsson,
  7. A Rane,
  8. E Anggård


    Fourteen patients with severe cancer pain participated in a trial of methadone given in a fixed dose (10 mg) but at intervals selected by the patients themselves during the loading phase. The aim was to achieve rapid pain relief while avoiding the risk of toxicity from accumulation of methadone. As expected, the dosage intervals increased gradually over the first few days of treatment, the daily dose decreasing from 30-80 mg on the first day to 10-40 mg at the end of the week. Plasma concentrations of methadone varied sevenfold after four to five days (0.24 to 1.75 mumol/1; 7.4 to 54.2 microgram/100 ml). Eleven patients reported complete or almost complete pain relief and elected to continue with methadone after the study. In no case was treatment withdrawn because of intoxication. From these findings a patient-controlled dosage regimen of oral methadone may be an effective and safe alternative to parenteral narcotic medication, adjusting both for individual variation in pain intensity and for pharmacokinetics.