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Naloxone (narcan)

Abstract

Naloxone (Narcan - Winthrop), the N-allyl derivative of oxymorphone, is a narcotic antagonist whose most important clinical property is reversal of narcotic-induced respiratory depression. Like nalorphine (Lethidrone - Wellcome) and levallorphan (Lorfan - Roche), it also antagonises the sedative, analgesic and miotic effects of narcotic analgesics.1 There is, however, an important difference. When not preceded by the administration of a narcotic or when given in excess, nalorphine and levallorphan themselves have narcotic effects; by contrast, naloxone has none.2 It is, for all practical purposes, a pure antagonist, whereas nalorphine and levallorphan are partial agonists, with agonist as well as antagonist effects.3

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