• Narcotic analgesics are the mainstay of pain control in patients with cancer. A controversy has been raging in the United States and Canada as to the legalization of heroin. We have reviewed the literature in order to determine the relative efficacy of heroin and morphine in cancer pain. We applied the following methodologic criteria: (1) Was the assignment of patients to the different opiates randomized? (2) Were all clinically relevant outcomes reported? (3) Were the patients recognizable? (4) Were both clinical and statistical significance considered? (5) Was the opiate regimen feasible in routine clinical practice? (6) Were all patients who entered the study accounted for at its conclusion? Two trials satisfied our first standard. The first, a double-blind cross-over trial, failed to meet standard 4 (the negative conclusion may represent a type 2 error) and only 21% of patients completed both treatment periods. The second study, which compared intramuscular heroin and morphine among patients with postoperative pain, failed to meet standards 3 (patients not described in sufficient detail and only tangentially related to chronic cancer pain) and 4 (type 2 error). Thus the relative efficacy of heroin and morphine in the relief of chronic cancer pain remains unknown. Randomized trials that meet all six methodologic standards must therefore be carried out for this controversy to be resolved.
(Arch Intern Med 1986;146:353-356)
Thank you for submitting a comment on this article. It will be reviewed by JAMA Internal Medicine editors. You will be notified when your comment has been published. Comments should not exceed 500 words of text and 10 references.
Do not submit personal medical questions or information that could identify a specific patient, questions about a particular case, or general inquiries to an author. Only content that has not been published, posted, or submitted elsewhere should be submitted. By submitting this Comment, you and any coauthors transfer copyright to the journal if your Comment is posted.
* = Required Field
Disclosure of Any Conflicts of Interest*
Indicate all relevant conflicts of interest of each author below, including all relevant financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including, but not limited to, employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speakers’ bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued. If all authors have none, check "No potential conflicts or relevant financial interests" in the box below. Please also indicate any funding received in support of this work. The information will be posted with your response.
Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.
Download citation file:
Web of Science® Times Cited: 11
Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.
More Listings atJAMACareerCenter.com >
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a link to reset your password.
Enter your username and email address. We'll send instructions on how to reset your password to the email address we have on record.
Athens and Shibboleth are access management services that provide single sign-on to protected resources. They replace the multiple user names and passwords necessary to access subscription-based content with a single user name and password that can be entered once per session. It operates independently of a user's location or IP address. If your institution uses Athens or Shibboleth authentication, please contact your site administrator to receive your user name and password.