24 May 2017
The buprenorphine transdermal system (BTDS) is approved in the US for the management of chronic pain. Due to its high affinity for μ-opioid receptors with a slow dissociation profile, buprenorphine may potentially displace or prevent the binding of competing μ-opioid-receptor agonists, including immediate-release (IR) opioids, in a dose-dependent manner. Health care professionals may assume that the use of IR opioids for supplemental analgesia during BTDS therapy is not acceptable.
This post hoc analysis evaluated the use of IR opioids as supplemental analgesia during the management of moderate–severe chronic pain with BTDS at 52 US sites (BUP3015S, NCT01125917). Patients were categorized into IR-opioid and no-IR-opioid groups. At each visit of the extension phase, adverse events, concomitant medications, and information from the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) were recorded.
The most common supplemental IR opioids prescribed during BTDS treatment (n=354) were hydrocodone–acetaminophen and oxycodone–acetaminophen. The mean daily dose of IR opioids (morphine equivalents) for supplemental analgesia was 22 mg. At baseline, BPI – pain intensity and BPI – interference scores were higher for patients in the IR-opioid group. In both treatment groups, scores improved by week 4, and then were maintained throughout 6 months of the open-label extension trial. The incidence of treatment-emergent adverse events was similar in both groups.
Patients who were prescribed IR opioids reported lower scores for BPI pain intensity and pain interference to levels similar to patients receiving BTDS without IR opioids, without increasing the rate or severity of treatment-emergent adverse events. Patients prescribed concomitant use of IR opioids with BTDS had greater treatment persistence. The results of this post hoc analysis provide support for the concomitant use of IR opioids for supplemental analgesia during the management of moderate–severe chronic pain with BTDS.