Opioids are frequently prescribed for pain management but there is large inter-individual variation in opioid-induced pain relief. These compounds are metabolized by enzymes leading to active and inactive metabolites, and there are differences in the quantity or presence of these metabolites between individuals.
This complicates the interpretation by clinicians of urine drug tests that are often administered to patients prescribed opioids. Further, although opioid addiction is a worldwide problem, only some of the individuals exposed to these drugs become addicted to them.
A mini-review titled “The Pharmacogenetics of Opioid Use and Implications for Pain Management” published in the January 2018 special issue of JALM on Laboratory Support of Pain Management discusses these complex topics.