What Options Should Pharmacists Consider When Tapering Patients from Opioids?

MARCH 24, 2017

In this clip, Jeffrey Fudin, PharmD, who spoke at APHA 2017 on opioid tapering, discusses options pharmacists should consider when tapering patients. 


"I think that there needs to be a team approach where pharmacists are working with various providers to decide maybe opioid tapering is not the thing to do. If opioid tapering is the thing to do, then pharmacists need to understand how to go about that. It might be more reasonable to simply switch the opioid to another opioid.

If the opioid is going to be tapered, we need to consider the half-life of the drug. Methadone can be tapered much more rapidly because it has a long half-life. The distribution stays around for a long period of time, so you can taper it relatively quickly. Opioids that are relatively short-acting have a half-life of 4 hours or so. If the patient has been on it for a long period of time, it’s going to require a longer taper period. The other thing that pharmacists can consider when speaking to various commissions is a pure opioid alternative."