Fixed Dose Versus Loose Dose: Analgesic Combinations

Pergolizzi J, Varrassi G, LeQuang J K, et al. (January 03, 2023)
Fixed Dose Versus Loose Dose: Analgesic Combinations.
Cureus 15(1): e33320. doi:10.7759/cureus.33320


Combinations of drugs may be fixed (two or more entities in a single product) or loose (two or more agents taken together but as individual agents) to help address multimechanistic pain. The use of opioids plus nonopioids can result in lower opioid consumption without sacrificing analgesic benefits. Drug combinations may offer additive or synergistic benefits. A variety of fixed-dose combination products are available on the market such as diclofenac plus thiocolchicoside, acetaminophen and caffeine, acetaminophen and opioid, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, tramadol and acetaminophen, and others. Fixed-dose combination products offer predictable pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, known adverse events, and can reduce the pill burden. However, they are limited to certain drug combinations and doses; loose dosing allows prescribers the versatility to meet individual patient requirements as well as the ability to titrate as needed. Not all drug combinations offer synergistic benefits, which depend on the drugs and their doses. Certain drugs offer dual mechanisms of action in a single molecule, such as tapentadol, and these may further be used in combination with other analgesics. New technology allows for co-crystal productions of analgesic agents which may further improve drug characteristics, such as bioavailability. Combination analgesics are important additions to the analgesic armamentarium and may offer important benefits at lower doses than monotherapy.

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