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OPIOID ANALGESICS. Chapter 9 Shannan Crumpler Andrea Matteliano Beverly Sessanna Ericka Sullivan Galen Westmoore. History of Opioids. Opium is extracted from poppy seeds (Paper somniforum) Used for thousands of years to produce: Euphoria Analgesia Sedation Relief from diarrhea

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opioid analgesics


Chapter 9

Shannan Crumpler

Andrea Matteliano

Beverly Sessanna

Ericka Sullivan

Galen Westmoore

history of opioids
History of Opioids
  • Opium is extracted from poppy seeds (Paper somniforum)
  • Used for thousands of years to produce:
    • Euphoria
    • Analgesia
    • Sedation
    • Relief from diarrhea
    • Cough suppression
history cont d
History cont’d
  • Used medicinally and recreationally from early Greek and Roman times
  • Opium and laudanum (opium combined with alcohol) were used to treat almost all known diseases
  • Morphine was isolated from opium in the early 1800’s and since then has been the most effective treatment for severe pain
history and background
History and Background
  • Invention of the hypodermic needle in 1856 produced drug abusers who self administered opioids by injection
  • Controlling the widespread use of opioids has been unsuccessful because of the euphoria, tolerance and physiological dependence that opioids produce
  • “opium” is a Greek word meaning “juice,” or the exudate from the poppy
  • “opiate” is a drug extracted from the exudate of the poppy
  • “opioid” is a natural or synthetic drug that binds to opioid receptors producing agonist effects
natural opioids occur in 2 places
Natural opioids occur in 2 places:
  • 1) In the juice of the opium poppy (morphine and codeine)
  • 2) As endogenous endorphins
  • All other opioids are prepared from either morphine (semisynthetic opioids such as heroin) or they are synthesized from precursor compounds (synthetic opioids such as fentanyl)
pharmacological effects
Pharmacological Effects
  • Sedation and anxiolysis
    • Drowsiness and lethargy
    • Apathy
    • Cognitive impairment
    • Sense of tranquility
  • Depression of respiration
    • Main cause of death from opioid overdose
    • Combination of opioids and alcohol is especially dangerous
  • Cough suppression
    • Opioids suppress the “cough center” in the brain
  • Pupillary constriction
    • pupillary constriction in the presence of analgesics is characteristic of opioid use
pharmacological effects cont d
Pharmacological effects cont’d.
  • Nausea and vomiting
    • Stimulation of receptors in an area of the medulla called the chemoreceptor trigger zone causes nausea and vomiting
    • Unpleasant side effect, but not life threatening
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
    • Opioids relieve diarrhea as a result of their direct actions on the intestines
  • Other effects
    • Opioids can release histamines causing itching or more severe allergic reactions including bronchoconstriction
    • Opioids can affect white blood cell function and immune function
mechanism of action
Mechanism of action
  • Activation of peripheral nociceptive fibers causes release of substance P and other pain-signaling neurotransmitters from nerve terminals in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord
  • Release of pain-signaling neurotransmitters is regulated by endogenous endorphins or by exogenous opioid agonists by acting presynaptically to inhibit substance P release, causing analgesia
primary effect of opioid receptor activation
Primary Effect of Opioid Receptor Activation
  • Reduction or inhibition of neurotransmission, due largely to opioid-induced presynaptic inhibition of neurotransmitter release
  • Involves changes in transmembrane ion conductance
    • Increase potassium conductance (hyperpolarization)
    • Inactivation of calcium channels
delta receptor
Delta Receptor
  • It is unclear what delta’s responsible for.
  • Delta agonists show poor analgesia and little addictive potential
  • May regulate mu receptor activity
mu receptor two types

Located outside spinal cord

Responsible for central interpretation of pain


Located throughout CNS

Responsible for respiratory depression, spinal analgesia, physical dependence, and euphoria

Mu-Receptor: Two Types
kappa receptor
Kappa Receptor
  • Only modest analgesia
  • Little or no respiratory depression
  • Little or no dependence
  • Dysphoric effects
  • Pure Agonist: has affinity for binding plus efficacy
  • Pure Antagonist: has affinity for binding but no efficacy; blocks action of endogenous and exogenous ligands
  • Mixed Agonist-Antagonist: produces an agonist effect at one receptor and an antagonist effect at another
  • Partial Agonist: has affinity for binding but low efficacy








general pharmacokinetics
General Pharmacokinetics
  • *oral (15-30 minutes)
  • *intranasal (2-3 minutes)
  • *intravenous (15 – 30 seconds)
  • *pulmonary-inhalation (6-12 seconds)
  • DURATION OF ACTION – anywhere between 4 and 72 hours depending on the substance in question.
  • Metabolism – hepatic via phase 1 and phase 2 biotransformations to form a diverse array of metabolites ( eg., morphine to morphine-6-glucuronide).
  • Routes of administration (preferred)


latency to onset –(15 – 60 minutes )

  • * it is also sniffed, swallowed and injected.
  • * duration of action – ( 3 – 6 hours)
  • * First-pass metabolism results in poor
  • availability from oral dosing.
  • * 30% is plasma protein bound
  • *symptomatic relief of moderate to severe pain
  • *relief of certain types of labored breathing
  • *suppression of severe cough (rarely)
  • *suppression of severe diarrhea
  • *AGONIST for mu, kappa, and delta receptors.
  • *Routes of administration (Preferred)
  • *Oral
  • *latency to onset (15 – 30 minutes)
  • *Intravenous
  • *Duration of Action (3-4 hours)
  • *Peak effect (30-60 minutes)
  • * potent analgesic like morphine but is 7-10
  • times as potent in this capacity.
  • *used fequently in surgical settings for moderate to
  • severe pain. (cancer, bone trauma, burns, renal colic.)
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Routes of Administration

* Oral, and transdermal (possibly intravenous)

*Highly lipophilic

*latency to onset (7-15 minutes oral; 12-17 hours


*duration of action ( 1-2 hours oral; 72 transdermal)

*80 – 85% plasma protein bound

*90 % metabolized in the liver to inactive metabolites

Other properties

* 80 times the analgesic potency of morphine

and 10 times the analgesic potency of


*high efficacy for mu 1 receptors.

*most effective opiate analgesic

  • Naloxone
  • Naltrexone
  • *latency to onset (oral tablet 15-30 min.)
  • *duration of action 24-72 hours
  • *peak effect (6-12 hours)
  • *Differs from naloxone insofar as the
  • allyl group on the nitrogen atom is supplanted
  • by a cyclopromethyl group.
  • *Reverses the psychotomimetic effects of opiate
  • agonists.
  • * Reverses hypotension and cardiovascular instability
  • secondary to endogeneous endorphins (potent vasodilators)
  • *inhibits Mu, Delta, and Kappa receptors.
  • Tolerance is a diminished responsiveness to the drug’s action that is seen with many compounds
  • Tolerance can be demonstrated by a decreased effect from a constant dose of drug or by an increase in the minimum drug dose required to produce a given level of effect
  • Physiological tolerance involves changes in the binding of a drug to receptors or changes in receptor transductional processes related to the drug of action
  • This type of tolerance occurs in opioids
tolerance continued
Tolerance continued
  • Molecular basis of tolerance involves glutaminergic mechanisms (glutamate-excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter)
  • 1997, Gies and colleagues stated that activation of glutamate NMDA receptors correlates with resistance to opioids and the development of tolerance
  • Mu-receptor mRNA levels are regulated by activation of these receptors
  • NMDA receptor blocker ketamine prevented the development of this late-onset and long-lasting enhancement in pain sensitivity after the initial analgesia effect dissipated
tolerance continued28
Tolerance continued
  • Thus, glutaminergic NMDA receptors MAY regulate mu-receptor mRNA, accounting for the development of tolerance to the continuous presence of opioid
  • Cross-tolerance is the condition where tolerance for one drug produces tolerance for another drug – person who is tolerant to morphine will also be tolerant to the analgesic effect of fentanyl, heroin, and other opioids
  • * note that a subject may be physically dependent on heroin can also be administered another opioid such as methadone to prevent withdrawl reactions
  • Methadone has advantages of being more orally effective and of lasting longer than morphine or heroin
tolerance continued29
Tolerance continued
  • Methadone maintenance programs allow heroin users the opportunity to maintain a certain level of functioning without the withdrawl reactions
  • Although most opioid effects show tolerance, locomotor stimulation shows sensitization with repeated opioid administration
  • Toxic effects of opioids are primarily from their respiratory depressant action and this effect shows tolerance with repeated opioid use
  • Opioids might be considered “safer” in that a heroin addicts drug dose would be fatal in a first-time heroin user
  • Physiological dependence occurs when the drug is necessary for normal physiological functioning – this is demonstrated by the withdrawl reactions
  • Withdrawl reactions are usually the opposite of the physiological effects produced by the drug
withdrawl reactions
Acute Action


Respiratory Depression


Relaxation and sleep


Decreased blood pressure


Pupillary constriction


Drying of secretions

Reduced sex drive

Flushed and warm skin

Withdrawl Sign

Pain and irritability


Dysphoria and depression

Restlessness and insomnia

Fearfulness and hostility

Increased blood pressure


Pupillary dilation


Lacrimation, runny nose

Spontaneous ejaculation

Chilliness and “gooseflesh”

Withdrawl Reactions
dependence continued
Dependence continued
  • Acute withdrawl can be easily precipitated in drug dependent individuals by injecting an opioid antagonist such as naloxone or naltrexone – rapid opioid detoxification or rapid anesthesia aided detoxification
  • The objective is to enable the patient to tolerate high doses of an opioid antagonist and undergo complete detox in a matter of hours while unconscious
  • After awakening, the person is maintained on orally administered naltrexone to reduce opioid craving
chapter 10 nonnarcotic anti inflammatory analgesics

Chapter 10: Nonnarcotic, Anti-Inflammatory Analgesics

Treatment for: mild to moderate pain, fever, inflammation, stroke/heart attack prevention, arthritis, *? prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia

aspirin and related nsaids
Aspirin and related NSAIDs
  • display a ceiling effect for analgesia (not as effective as opioids)
  • can be used in combination with opiate analgesics (summation effect)
history actions

Bark of willow tree: Pain relief from chemical in bark, salicin (chemically related to aspirin)

NSAID prototype:

Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) = aspirin

Action of NSAIDs:

through either selective or non-selective blocking of enzymes involved in the synthesis of prostaglandins

NSAID= non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug

  • Members of group of lipid-derived paracrines


      • chemicals secreted by a cell to act on cells in the immediate vicinity via process of diffusion
  • Can be released by all cells in the body
  • An enzyme involved in prostaglandin synthesis
    • cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1): beneficial prostaglandins
    • cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2): harmful prostaglandins
effects of cox inhibition by most nsaids
Effects of COX Inhibition by Most NSAIDS

NSAIDs : anti-platelet—decreases ability of blood to clot

pharmacokinetics asa
Pharmacokinetics: ASA

Absorption: from stomach and intestine

Distribution: readily, into most fluids/tissues

Metabolism : primarily hepatic

  • ASA contraindicated for use in children with viral fever –can lead to Reye’s Syndrome
  • Fatal overdose is possible

Similar pharmacokinetics for ibuprofen and related NSAIDs

selective cox 2 inhibitors
Selective Cox-2 Inhibitors
  • Greater affinity for cyclooxygenase-2
  • Decreased incidence of negative effects associated with non-selective COX-inhibitors
acetaminophen n acetyl p aminophenol apap
AcetaminophenN-Acetyl-P-Aminophenol (APAP)

Classification: analgesic, antipyretic, misc. not an NSAID

Mechanism: inhibits prostaglandin synthesis via CNS inhibition of COX (not peripheral)---doesn’t promote ulcers, bleeding or renal failure; peripherally blocks generation of pain impulses, inhibits hypothalamic heat-regulation center

apap liver metabolism
APAP Liver Metabolism

1. Major pathway —Majority of drug is metabolized to produce a non-toxic metabolite

2. Minor pathway—Produces a highly reactive intermediate (acetylimidoquinone) that conjugates with glutathione and is inactivated.

  • At toxic APAP levels, minor pathway metabolism cannot keep up (liver’s supply of glutathione is limited), causing an increase in the reactive intermediate which leads to hepatic toxicity and necrosis
pharmacokinetics apap
Pharmacokinetics: APAP

Metabolism: major and minor pathways

Half-life: 1-3 hours

Time to peak concentration: 10-60 min

Treatment for overdose: Acetylcysteine (Mucomyst)

see new approach pain
See “New Approach…Pain”
  • http://www.drugabuse.gov/NIDA_Notes/NNVol15N5/Approach.html