Morphine improves intractable dyspnoea [B.M.J]

Morphine can provide added relief to patients who have intractablebreathlessness even though they are receiving maximal treatmentfor its underlying causes. In a randomised, double blind, placebocontrolled, crossover study in 38 patients with predominantlychronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Abernethy and colleagues(p 523) showed that 20 mg of sustained release morphine dailyimproved dyspnoea scores by 7-10%, without respiratory depressionor serious side effects. The authors state that the use of opioidsin the management of intractable breathlessness has been controversial