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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

What are the names for the patch form of painkillers?

Q) In the spring 2007 edition of Arthritis Today, Mrs B Walker of Polegate, East Sussex, asked if there were any painkillers stronger than paracetamol for her arthritis, and you mentioned some are now available in patch form, though expensive. Could you let me know the names of the patch painkillers? I'm always ready to try anything that may help. I'm 86, have longstanding 'top-to-toe' osteoarthritis and have had two hip replacements.
Mrs Joan Ottewell, Belper, Derbyshire (Summer 2007) 

A) The patch form of painkillers are morphine based. Although they're designed to be effective and convenient they're strong and can have significant side-effects, particularly in the elderly. The three available are called Duragesic (the drug is called fentanyl), Transtec and Butrans (in both of these the drug is called buprenorphine). They're stuck on the skin at a convenient spot and changed every three days in the case of Duragesic, every four days in the case of Transtec, or weekly in the case of Butrans. Some people have difficulty with the patches and develop an allergic reaction. Sometimes nausea, dizziness and confusion develop, but on the whole they're effective and well tolerated.

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