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Morphine infusor pump switch to oral methadone
  1. Juan Santos Suárez and
  2. Gema del Valle Arnáez
  1. Palliative Care, Servicio de Salud del Principado de Asturias (SESPA), Oviedo, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Juan Santos Suárez; juansantos.paliativos{at}


Between 2014 and 2017, four patients with widespread cancer were referred to a home palliative care team from a hospital in Oviedo (Spain) with subcutaneous elastomeric infusion pump containing 180–260 mg/day of morphine for previously uncontrolled pain. 3–4 rotations were performed over 5–11 days, gradually substituting morphine for oral methadone (three times a day) to minimise the risks of rapid conversion, with a highly variable final subcutaneous morphine:oral methadone ratio (5:1 to 17:1), guided by the absence of pain, and to enhance the patient’s functional capacity avoiding device dependence. The final methadone dose varied between 15 and 39 mg/day. There was daily telephone supervision and visits every 2–4 days. Patient demise occurred 56, 111, 168 and 350 days following the opioid conversion, and methadone was maintained until then. In all cases and prior to concluding the rotation, pain was controlled and sleepiness had subsided.

  • infusion pumps
  • nursing home care
  • palliative care
  • rotation

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  • Contributors JSS: study design, patient recruitment, data analysis and writing up of the first draft of the paper. GdVA: study design, patient recruitment and data collection.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.