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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 67

of 'Prevention and management of side effects in patients receiving opioids for chronic pain'

Donepezil in the treatment of opioid-induced sedation: report of six cases.
Slatkin NE, Rhiner M, Bolton TM
J Pain Symptom Manage. 2001;21(5):425.
Donepezil, an oral acetylcholinesterase inhibitor approved for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, was given to 6 cancer pain patients having sedation related to the analgesic use of opioids. Each patient was taking more than 200 mg of oral morphine equivalents per day, and several were receiving complex analgesic regimens consisting of multiple adjuvant medications. Sedation improved at least moderately in 5 of the patients and mildly in 1 after they began taking donepezil. Patients reported a decrease in episodes of spontaneous sleeping during the day, fewer myoclonic twitches, improved daily function and greater social interaction. Several also reported improved sleep at night. Analgesia was not compromised by the use of donepezil, and in some cases it appeared improved. Donepezil may be a valuable alternative to psychostimulants in the treatment of opioid-induced sedation. A prospective controlled trial comparing the treatment effects of psychostimulants and donepezil on patients having opioid-induced sedation is underway.
Department of Supportive Care and Palliative Medicine, City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA 91010, USA.