The Herald-Leader’s Aug. 25 editorial, “Doctors must stop overuse of opioids for patients’ pain” overlooked a key sub-group who must avoid them due to innate intolerance. As a “poor metabolizer” (one of the less than 10 percent of Americans) who carries defects in gene CYP2D6, I would be a thrilled collateral beneficiary of any newly discovered ways to treat severe pain incurred with surgery, serious injury, etc. Through a lifetime of experience, I have learned that opioids not only cause severe vomiting, vertigo, disorientation, etc., they fail to reduce extreme pain. I and others who test positive for CYP2D aberrations are initially very enthusiastic regarding the search for any new pain reduction alternatives.
However, Dr. Phillip K. Chang’s suggestions for “attitude adjustment” — Advil/Tylenol and numbing — are quite disappointing. After necessary surgery, no amount of extra strength Advil/Tylenol is adequate for pain control, so sleep-inducing meds were necessary just to allow me some rest. Also, my doctors warn, after a certain level, numbing agents, e.g. Lidocaine, can induce seizures.
I beseech Chang and all drug researchers, please invent a safer alternative to opioids that is stronger than Advil/Tylenol. CYP2D poor metabolizers will thank you most.