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Tapentadol: An initial analysis

Eric E. Prommer, MD


Tapentadol hydrochloride (17(—)-(1R,2R)-3-(3-dimethylamino-1-ethyl-2-methyl-propyl)-phenol) is a newly released analgesic that works at two levels: by acting as a μ-opioid agonist and as a modulator of descending inhibitory pathways through its effects on neurotransmitters involved in these pathways. The theoretical advantage is the provision of synergistic analgesic activities, which may lessen the need for opioid escalation. The advantage is its potential as a possible new agent in neuropathic pain. Preclinical models confirm analgesic properties in acute pain and neuropathic pain models, but with less potency than morphine. Tapentadol has minimal CYP 450 interactions limiting potential for drug interactions. Human clinical trial data in nonmalignant pain suggest less potency than a step-3 opioid, and the drug remains to be tested in patients with cancer pain and neuropathic pain.


tapentadol, affinity, neuropathic

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