Hydromorphone in the Management of Cancer-Related Pain: An Update on Routes of Administration and Dosage Forms
Pain is experienced by a majority of cancer patients. As life expectancy has increased in developed and developing countries, cancer-related pain has become a major health concern. Despite the use of the three-step analgesic ladder proposed by the World Health Organization, pain still remains under treated. Morphine, the gold standard against which all other opioids has been compared is considered the first choice for management of cancer-related pain. However, recently focus has shifted to the use of hydromorphone, a semi-synthetic derivative of morphine, which is more potent, more soluble and has a comparable side-effect profile. This review focuses on the use of hydromorphone for the management of cancer-related pain emphasizing on the various routes of administration as well as dosage forms, and providing a direction for the preference of a particular route depending on the need for a rapid effect and the individual’s situation. Various approaches used to modify the release of hydromorphone from the drug delivery systems with the perspective of improving patient compliance are also being discussed.