Gender difference in prescription opioid abuse: A focus on oxycodone and hydrocodone

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Several data gathered in the last decade indicate an increase of abuse of prescription opioid drugs oxycodone (OXY) and hydrocodone (HYDRO) in women. However, to date there are no conclusive evidences investigating the gender-dependent abuse liability of prescription opioids. This study aims to supply a specific focus on women’s data through a selective summary of the literature analyzing gender differences in the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic dimension of OXY and HYDRO. Findings from this study suggest that the majority of OXY and HYDRO pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic effects do not differ according to gender, though confirming a significant difference in the incidence of adverse effects as demonstrated by the increased gastrointestinal adverse reactions in female subjects. Although the majority of recent clinical studies include an equal number of female and male subjects, the main outcome parameters do not relate specifically to gender differences. Due to the gender influence in activity of CYP3A4 and its crucial role in metabolism of both OXY than HYDRO, we suggest that assessing pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic interactions in clinical studies may be useful to clarify the effect of the higher CYP3A4 activity in female in relation to CYP2D6 genotype. Overall, considering the paucity of data regarding gender differences in European Union, this work highlights that impact of new abuse deterrent formulations should be assessed with a special focus on data concerning female subjects.

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