Transdermal scopolamine use in the control of narcotic-induced nausea.
Nausea affects from 40% to 70% of cancer patients who received narcotics to manage their pain. This occurs more frequently when they are ambulatory than when they are recumbent and may be the result of narcotic-enhanced labyrinthine sensitivity to motion. Scopolamine has previously been found to be an effective antiemetic for motion sickness. In a prospective pilot study, 9 (69%) of 13 cancer patients experienced rapid relief of their narcotic-induced nausea when they used Scopolamine Transderm-V patches alone. Only two patients experienced side effects with the scopolamine, and in one patient, the side effects may have been dose related. Although tolerance to the increased vestibular sensitivity may occur, this was not universal. Further prospective trials are necessary to establish whether transdermal scopolamine is useful in controlling the narcotic-induced nausea experienced by cancer patients.