Neuraxial drug delivery for the management of cancer pain: cost, updates, and society guidelines

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The present study discusses the utilization of neuraxial drug delivery (NDD) for the management of cancer pain, based on recent trials, reviews, and guidelines with a focus on cost analysis.

Recent findings

Almost all recent publications suggest that more stringent research is needed to improve evidence on NDD, particularly as conflicting reports exist regarding cost effectiveness of drug delivery systems. The combination of local anesthetics and opioids, with or without clonidine, continues to be reported as beneficial with the utilization of patient controlled systems providing an advantage over continuous ones. Interestingly, the use of opioids as an adjunct to local anesthetics may not enhance analgesia but the addition of dexamethasone is useful for incident cancer-related bone pain. Ziconitide remains supported as first-line therapy in districts where it is available – United States and Europe. Although new targeted drugs are being designed for cancer pain management, none have seen human clinical trials in the last year.

Summary

The ability to demonstrate cost effectiveness of NDD is variable from region to region. Less expensive externalized systems may pose a viable alternative. With the exception of dexamethasone, no new drugs have been shown to provide any benefit to conventional medications.

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