The use of methadone for cancer pain

Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2002 Jun;16(3):543-55. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8588(02)00017-5.


Methadone is not a new analgesic drug [69]. Several studies have demonstrated that methadone is a valid alternative to morphine, hydromorphone, and fentanyl for the treatment of cancer-related pain, and extensive reviews on the subject have been published in recent years [10,23,25,64,70,71]. Most people involved in pain therapy, however, are not well informed about the properties of methadone. The authors believe that the low cost of methadone paradoxically contributes to the limited knowledge of its characteristics and to the restricted therapeutic use of this drug. The low cost of methadone means there is little financial incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest in research or to disseminate scientific information. Unfortunately, the lack of scientific information from pharmaceutical companies frequently results in a lack of knowledge on the part of physicians. Unless the existing approach changes, both culturally and politically, ignorance about methadone will persist among medical experts. The low cost of methadone, rather than being an advantage, will result in the limited exploitation of an effective drug.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / chemistry
  • Analgesics, Opioid / economics
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Biological Availability
  • Child
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Costs
  • Drug Industry / economics
  • Drug Information Services
  • Drug Interactions
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Methadone / chemistry
  • Methadone / economics
  • Methadone / pharmacology
  • Methadone / therapeutic use*
  • Morphine / pharmacology
  • Morphine / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Palliative Care / methods
  • Patient Selection
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Morphine
  • Methadone