In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), opioids can improve breathlessness, but not exercise capacity, according to a review published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden examined the efficacy and safety of opioids on refractory breathlessness, exercise capacity, and health-related quality of life in COPD. Data were included from 16 studies (15 crossover trials and one parallel group study), including 271 participants (95 percent with severe COPD).