Low doses of transdermal buprenorphine in opioid-naive patients with cancer pain: a 4-week, nonrandomized, open-label, uncontrolled observational study

Sebastiano Mercadante, Gianpiero Porzio, Patrizia Ferrera, Federica Aielli, Lucilla Verna, Walter Tirelli, Patrizia Villari, Alessandra Casuccio
Clinical Therapeutics 2009, 31 (10): 2134-8

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect and tolerability of low doses of transdermal (TD) buprenorphine patches in opioid-naive patients with cancer pain.

METHODS: This was a nonrandomized, open-label, uncontrolled study in consecutive opioid-naive patients with advanced cancer and moderate pain. TD buprenorphine was initiated at a dose of 17.5 microg/h (0.4 mg/d), with patch changes every 3 days. Doses were then adjusted according to the clinical response. Pain intensity, opioid-related adverse effects, TD buprenorphine doses, and quality of life were monitored over 4 weeks. The time to dose stabilization and indexes of dose escalation were also calculated.

RESULTS: Thirty-nine consecutive patients completed all 4 weeks of the study. Low doses of TD buprenorphine were well tolerated and effective in these opioid-naive patients with cancer pain. Pain control was achieved within a mean of 1.5 days after the start of TD buprenorphine therapy. The mean TD buprenorphine dose was significantly increased from baseline beginning at 2 weeks after the start of therapy and had doubled by 4 weeks (P < 0.05). Pain intensity was significantly decreased from baseline beginning at 1 week and continuing through the remaining weekly evaluations (P < 0.05). The mean buprenorphine escalation index, calculated as a percentage and in milligrams, was 41.2% and 0.2 mg, respectively. Quality of life improved significantly over the study period (P = 0.007). There were no significant changes in opioid-related symptoms between weekly evaluations.

CONCLUSION: Observations from this study suggest that randomized, controlled, double-blind studies of TD buprenorphine 17.5 microg/h in opioid-naive patients with cancer pain may be warranted.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"