Efficacy of rapid-onset oral fentanyl formulations vs. oral morphine for cancer-related breakthrough pain: a meta-analysis of comparative trials

Article English OPEN
Jandhyala, R ; Fullarton, JR ; Bennett, MI (2013)
  • Publisher: Elsevier
  • Journal: Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (issn: 0885-3924, vol: 46, pp: 573-580)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2012.09.009
  • Subject: Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine | Clinical Neurology | Nursing(all)

Context: Breakthrough cancer pain (BTcP) is widely recognized as a clinically significant complication of chronic cancer pain. With most BTcP episodes peaking in intensity within a few minutes and lasting for approximately 30 minutes, speed of onset is crucial for effective pain management. Although the last decade has seen the development of a number of rapid-onset fentanyl preparations, BTcP is still typically managed by supplemental or rescue doses of the patient's around-the-clock medication, such as oral morphine. Importantly, although the fentanyl preparations, such as fentanyl buccal tablet (FBT), sublingual fentanyl citrate orally disintegrating tablet (ODT), and oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate lozenge (OTFC), have all been proven to be efficacious in clinical studies, oral morphine has never been specifically tested in BTcP, other than as a comparator in studies of OTFC and fentanyl pectin nasal spray. Objectives: To determine the relative contributions to pain relief from oral morphine and the fentanyl preparations using placebo as a common comparator. Methods: Relevant studies were identified by review of the literature and used in a mixed-treatment meta-analysis to indirectly compare fentanyl preparations, morphine, and placebo for the treatment of BTcP. Results: Analysis incorporating the five relevant studies identified revealed that although the fentanyl preparations provide superior pain relief vs. placebo in the first 30 minutes after dosing (FBT provided an 83% probability of superior pain relief, ODT 66%, and OTFC 73% vs. placebo), oral morphine performed little better than placebo (56% probability). Conclusion: This mixed-treatment analysis suggests that FBT, ODT, and OTFC might provide more efficacious treatment options than oral morphine for BTcP.
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