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Methoxyflurane is a better painkiller than placebo: but do we want to know more?
  1. Simon Carley1,2,
  2. Richard Body1,3
  1. 1Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
  3. 3University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor S Carley, Emergency Department, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9WL, UK; simon.carley{at}

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Recently the journal published a multicentre, randomised, controlled trial on the use of methoxyflurane for acute pain.1 Methoxyflurane is a volatile anaesthetic agent which, at low doses, has analgesic properties. It has been in widespread use as an analgesic in Australasia since as early as 1968 and there have been trials of its use in a variety of settings.2 In the UK and USA it does not currently have a license following safety concerns that it might precipitate renal failure.3

The trial concludes that methoxyflurane is an efficacious, safe and rapidly acting analgesic. The data presented do seem to support those assertions, although a trial of this size will not reliably detect rare events related to safety. Readers must now ask some interesting and important questions about …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

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