I recently had 6 weeks of head/neck radiation treatment. There was a period of acute pain in the mouth/throat lasting for a few weeks beyond the last treatment during which time I was prescribed some opioid analgesics. The doctor advised that most recipients of opioid medication encounter constipation and said to take laxatives and drink plenty of water. For me this didn't work, I had difficultly managing the balance between the analgesics & laxatives. It may have been a case of over sensitivity but I found I was either severely constipated or over evacuated (if you know what I mean) but in any case I was in constant pain. I found the pain from constipation was as bad as that from the radiation burns. A hospital pharmacist suggested that I switch to a new drug called Targin, which is the only opioid based painkiller designed to prevent constipation. For me this worked amazing well, each tablet lasted 12hrs so was easy to maintain. After a short course on this medication the pain was considerably eased (at both ends!), I was able to resume a better diet and gained weight. Only drawback is that Targin is currently not listed on the PBS so it will cost roughly $3/day. I found that this was close to the cost of regular pain killers plus the many laxatives, etc anyway but in any case the improved quality of life certainly made it worthwhile. As an aside, the pharmacist said that Targin had the added benefit of not being able to be diverted for recreational drug users. It is only effective when taken orally; it contains naloxone which will block effects for IV usage. I had to provide my GP with details about Targin for the prescription as they hadn't heard about it, same at the chemist, they had to order it in.
Interesting story on Targin. It is a great drug.
You may have seen in the paper recently some fuss about the government rejecting recommendations of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to put drugs on the PBS. They government has decided that cabinet has greater expertise that the PBAC, all done in the name of cost saving - sorry they didn't reject it they have deferred until economic conditions get better and the budget is in surplus. On of the eight drugs they rejected, all low cost as far as the PBS is concerned, was Targin. The cost saving if they switched to Targin would more than compensate for the cost of supplying this drug, but the bean counters do not think this way.
The list of consumer groups that have objected to this is huge. The Consumers Health Forum has coordinated this -so far all to no avail. The peak cancer consumer groups, the peak pain consumer groups were first off the block in objecting to the government's decision. The coalition of voices objecting to the decision has included all the pharmacy groups, all the consumer groups, the AMA, the manufacturers.
What the government can't seem to realise is that once they move to cabinet making the decisions new drug approvals become a political process rather than our present system which is the envy of the rest of the world.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.