N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists have been shown to improve opioid analgesia in the animal model. The cough suppressant dextromethorphan is a clinically available NMDA-receptor antagonist. In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study 20 patients with chronic pain of several years duration were given 100 mg of oral dextromethorphan or matching placebo 4 h prior to an intravenous infusion of morphine 15 mg. Pain intensity and adverse effects were assessed at 0, 4, 5 and 7 h. Dextromethorphan had no effect on morphine analgesia: the mean (±SEM) visual analogue scores for pain relief (VAS, 0-100 mm) at the end of the morphine infusion were 38 (±6) for dextromethorphan+morphine and 38 (±7) for placebo+morphine. VAS scores for pain intensity were comparable both at rest and at movement at all time points. The most common adverse effects reported were dizziness, nausea and sedation. There were no significant differences in either the incidence or severity of adverse effects. In conclusion, oral dextromethorphan 100 mg had no effect on pain relief by intravenous morphine 15 mg in patients with chronic pain. © 2002 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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