Osteoarthritis (OA) is a physically and emotionally debilitating disease that predominantly affects the aging adult population. Current pharmacologic treatment options primarily consist of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and/or acetaminophen, but associated side effects, analgesic limitations, especially in the elderly, and the need for around-the-clock analgesia have led physicians to search for alternative analgesics. Opioids have shown effectiveness at mitigating both chronic cancer and noncancer pain, and their ability to be placed into controlled release (CR) formulations suggests that they may prove efficacious for OA patients. One formulation, oxycodone CR, has shown effectiveness in cancer pain patients and in some trials of noncancer low back pain. In this review, the objective was to synthesize the reported findings by researchers in this field and present an up-to-date look at the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of oxycodone CR in OA patients. Public literature databases were searched using specific keywords (eg, oxycodone CR) for studies assessing the efficacy and safety profile of oxycodone CR and its use in patients with OA. A total of eleven articles that matched the criteria were identified, which included three placebo-controlled trials, six comparative trials, one pharmacokinetic study in the elderly, and one long-term safety trial. Analysis of the studies revealed that oxycodone CR is reasonably efficacious, safe, and tolerable when used to manage moderate to severe chronic OA pain, with similar side effects to that of other opioids.
Keywords: controlled release; extended release; opioid; osteoarthritis; oxycodone.