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Piritramide is a synthetic opioid that is used for post-surgery pain. It is mostly found in Europe and as of 2011 had not been introduced into the United States. Piritramide is a long-lasting drug and is delivered either in pill form or by injection. Its effect is similar to morphine; however, it tends to cause fewer side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, as well as respiratory problems. Although the opioid is found in hospital emergency rooms, it can also be useful when used to lessen chronic pain.
In medical trials, 20 mg of piritramide was found to have the same pain lessening effect as 15 mg of morphine. Whereas piritramide tended to have a more hypnotic effect, or was more likely to induce sleep in a patient, it did seem to have less negative effects, including a lower likelihood of hypotension, or abnormally low blood pressure. Piritramide is also used as an anesthesia during childbirth. It does, however, have the potential for abuse and there are some that use the drug for recreational purposes.
A few other common uses for the drug are for patients suffering from osteoporosis, which is a disease of the bones; insertion of coronary arterial heart stents, which are small devices to keep the veins open and blood flowing; and ulcerative colitis, which is an inflammatory bowel disease. Some other commonly reported side effects include Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which refers to an allergic reaction of the skin; cyanosis, which is when the skin takes on a blue tint due to lack of oxygen in the blood; and pruritus, which is an excessive itching of the skin.
Side effects of this opioid can include anxiety, tremors, diarrhea, drowsiness and constipation. There are certain drugs that can negatively interact with piritramide. These can include barbiturates, which are depressants; benzodiazepines, used to treat anxiety; and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), which are usually prescribed for depression. Symptoms of overdoes may include dizziness, tachycardia, which is a disorder of the heart rhythm, and cessation of breathing. It is not recommended that people taking piritramide drive a car or operate heavy machinery.
Piritramide, also known by trade names such as Dipidolo® and Piridolan®, was first discovered in 1960 at the Janssen Pharmaceutica Company in Belgium. It is used extensively in countries such as Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. The opioid is banned in Finland. It is more expensive than opium, yet is considered to be a better option when it comes to dealing with post-operative pain in patients.