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Tramadol: a valuable treatment for pain in Southeast Asian countries

Authors Vijayan R, Afshan G, Bashir K, Cardosa M, Chadha M, Chaudakshetrin P, Hla KM, Joshi M, Javier FO, Kayani AG, Musba AT, Nimmaanrat S, Pantjawibowo D, Que JC, Vijayanand P

Received 11 January 2018

Accepted for publication 17 April 2018

Published 24 October 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 2567—2575


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael Schatman

Ramani Vijayan,1 Gauhar Afshan,2 Khalid Bashir,3 Mary Cardosa,4 Madhur Chadha,5 Pongparadee Chaudakshetrin,6 Khin Myo Hla,7 Muralidhar Joshi,8 Francis O Javier,9 Asif Gul Kayani,10 Andi Takdir Musba,11 Sasikaan Nimmaanrat,12 Dwi Pantjawibowo,13 Jocelyn C Que,14 Palanisamy Vijayanand15

1Department of Anaesthesiology, University Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 2Department of Anaesthesiology, The Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan; 3Department of Anaesthesia, Hameed Latif Hospital, Lahore, Pakistan; 4Department of Anaesthesiology, Hospital Selayang, Selangor, Malaysia; 5Department of Pain Medicine, Primus Hospital and Fortis Group of Hospitals, New Delhi, India; 6Pain Management Clinic, Department of Anesthesiology, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand; 7Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Yangon General Hospital, University of Medicine-1, Yangon, Myanmar; 8Department of Anaesthesia & Pain Medicine, Virinchi Hospitals, Hyderabad, India; 9Pain Management Center, St Luke’s Medical Center, Metro Manila, Philippines; 10Department of Anesthesiology, Kulsum International Hospital, Islamabad, Pakistan; 11Department of Anesthesiology, Faculty of Medicine, Hasanuddin University, Makassar, Indonesia; 12Department of Anesthesiology, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Hatyai, Songkhla, Thailand; 13Department of Anesthesiology, Intensive Therapy, and Hospital Pain Management, Premier Bintaro Hospital, South Tangerang, Indonesia; 14Center for Pain Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines; 15Pain Management Department, Sri Ramakrishna Hospital, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India

Background: The supply of controlled drugs is limited in the Far East, despite the prevalence of health disorders that warrant their prescription. Reasons for this include strict regulatory frameworks, limited financial resources, lack of appropriate training amongst the medical profession and fear of addiction in both general practitioners and the wider population. Consequently, the weak opioid tramadol has become the analgesic most frequently used in the region to treat moderate to severe pain.
Methods: To obtain a clearer picture of the current role and clinical use of tramadol in Southeast Asia, pain specialists from 7 countries in the region were invited to participate in a survey, using a questionnaire to gather information about their individual use and experience of this analgesic.
Results: Fifteen completed questionnaires were returned and the responses analyzed. Tramadol is used to manage acute and chronic pain caused by a wide range of conditions. Almost all the specialists treat moderate cancer pain with tramadol, and every one considers it to be significant or highly significant in the treatment of moderate to severe non-cancer pain. The reasons for choosing tramadol include efficacy, safety and tolerability, ready availability, reasonable cost, multiple formulations and patient compliance. Its safety profile makes tramadol particularly appropriate for use in elderly patients, outpatients, and for long-term treatment. The respondents strongly agreed that tighter regulation of tramadol would reduce its medical availability and adversely affect the quality of pain management. In some countries, there would no longer be any appropriate medication for cancer pain or the long-term treatment of chronic pain.
Conclusions: In Southeast Asia, tramadol plays an important part in the pharmacological management of moderate to severe pain, and may be the only available treatment option. If it were to become a controlled substance, the standard of pain management in the region would decline.

Keywords: tramadol, questionnaire, indications, efficacy, safety, controlled substance

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