Opioids are important drugs in modern medicine. They are widely used as antitussive, antidiarrhoeal, sedative, and analgesic agents and they are well established for treating the critically ill patient. The central effects of opioids are well documented, but opioids have other important effects. This article will examine some new developments in the field of opioid pharmacology. The relevance of endogenous opioids is highlighted, followed by a description of some important peripheral effects of opioids. These include some effects the importance of which is unknown.
John Farman Intensive Care Unit, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Correspondence to G. R. Park, MD, Director, The John Farman Intensive Care Unit, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 2QQ, United Kingdom