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      A new transmucosal drug delivery system for patients with breakthrough cancer pain: the fentanyl effervescent buccal tablet

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          Breakthrough pain, a transitory severe pain with the background of otherwise controlled persistent pain has a prevalence between 52% and 67% in outpatients with cancer. Medications for such sudden-onset pain require non-invasive delivery of a potent and short-acting opioid for rapid pain relief. Although oral transmucosal delivery of fentanyl citrate (OTFC) has been shown to provide better pain relief than a typical oral opioid administration such as morphine sulfate immediate release (MSIR) in the management of breakthrough pain in patients with cancer-related pain, newer delivery systems offer a potential for further enhancement of pain relief. The fentanyl effervescent buccal tablet (FBT) formulation employs a novel drug delivery system that relies on an effervescence reaction to improve buccal fentanyl absorption. Using the effervescence reaction results in the production and dissipation of carbon dioxide with a dynamic shift in pH as the tablet dissolves. The induced low pH favors dissolution of fentanyl citrate in saliva (higher water solubility). The subsequent increase in pH thereafter favors the buccal absorption of non-ionized fentanyl across the buccal mucosa. Such a pH “pumping” mechanism increases the permeation of fentanyl into and through the buccal to the vascular system from where the agent is transported to the specific opioid receptor sites in the CNS. Compared with OTFC, data in healthy volunteers show that the effervescence reaction employed in FBT increases the total amount and the speed of absorption of fentanyl being absorbed. Compared with OTFC there is an increase in peak fentanyl blood concentrations, and an enhancement of the amount of buccal delivery of fentanyl. Such favorable data are underlined by the results of clinical studies where the FBT technology was studied in patients with breakthrough pain in chronic malignant pathologies.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Breakthrough pain: definition, prevalence and characteristics.

           R Portenoy,  N Hagen (1990)
          In the cancer population, the term breakthrough pain typically refers to a transitory flare of pain in the setting of chronic pain managed with opioid drugs. The prevalence and characteristics of this phenomenon have not been defined, and its impact on patient care is unknown. We developed operational definitions for breakthrough pain and its major characteristics, and applied these in a prospective survey of patients with cancer pain. Data were collected during a 3 month period from consecutive patients who reported moderate pain or less for more than 12 h daily and stable opioid dosing for a minimum of 2 consecutive days. Of 63 patients surveyed, 41 (64%) reported breakthrough pain, transient flares of severe or excruciating pain. Fifty-one different pains were described (median 4 pains/day; range 1-3600). Pain characteristics were extremely varied. Twenty-two (43%) pains were paroxysmal in onset; the remainder were more gradual. The duration varied from seconds to hours (median/range: 30 min/1-240 min), and 21 (41%) were both paroxysmal and brief (lancinating pain). Fifteen (29%) of the pains were related to the fixed opioid dose, occurring solely at the end of the dosing interval. Twenty-eight (55%) of the pains were precipitated; of these, 22 were caused by an action of the patient (incident pain), and 6 were associated with a non-volitional precipitant, such as flatulence. The pathophysiology of the pain was believed to be somatic in 17 (33%), visceral in 10 (20%), neuropathic in 14 (27%), and mixed in 10 (20%). Pain was related to the tumor in 42 (82%), the effects of therapy in 7 (14%), and neither in 2 (4%). Diverse interventions were employed to manage these pains, with variable efficacy. These data clarify the spectrum of breakthrough pains and indicate their importance in cancer pain management.
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            Morphine and alternative opioids in cancer pain: the EAPC recommendations

             G Hanks,  F Conno,  N Cherny (2001)
            An expert working group of the European Association for Palliative Care has revised and updated its guidelines on the use of morphine in the management of cancer pain. The revised recommendations presented here give guidance on the use of morphine and the alternative strong opioid analgesics which have been introduced in many parts of the world in recent years. Practical strategies for dealing with difficult situations are described presenting a consensus view where supporting evidence is lacking. The strength of the evidence on which each recommendation is based is indicated. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign
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              Breakthrough pain: characteristics and impact in patients with cancer pain.

              Few surveys have been performed to define the characteristics and impact of breakthrough pain in the cancer population. In this cross-sectional survey of inpatients with cancer, patients responded to a structured interview (the Breakthrough Pain Questionnaire) designed to characterize breakthrough pain, and also completed measures of pain and mood (Memorial Pain Assessment Card (MPAC)), pain-related interference in function (Brief Pain Inventory (BPI)), depressed mood (Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)), and anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI)). Of 178 eligible patients, 164 (92.2%) met the criteria for controlled background pain. The median age was 50.6 years (range 26 to 77 years), 52% were men, and 80.6% were Caucasian. Tumor diagnoses were mixed, 75% had metastatic disease, 65% had pain caused directly by the neoplasm, and a majority had mixed nociceptive-neuropathic pain. The median Karnofsky Performance Status score was 60 (range 40 to 90). Eighty-four (51.2%) patients had experienced breakthrough pain during the previous day. The median number of episodes was six (range 1 to 60) and the median interval from onset to peak was 3 min (range 1 s to 30 min). Although almost two-thirds (61.7%) could identify precipitants (movement 20.4%; end-of-dose failure 13.2%), pain was unpredictable in a large majority (78.2%). Patients with breakthrough pain had more intense (P < 0.001) and more frequent (P < 0.01) background pain than patients without breakthrough pain. Breakthrough pain was also associated with greater pain-related functional impairment (difference in mean BPI. P < 0.001), worse mood (mood VAS, P < 0.05; BDI, P < 0.001), and more anxiety (BAI, P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis confirmed that breakthrough pain independently contributed to impaired functioning and psychological distress. These data confirm that cancer-related breakthrough pain is a prevalent and heterogeneous phenomenon. The presence of breakthrough pain is a marker of a generally more severe pain syndrome, and is associated with both pain-related functional impairment and psychological distress. The findings suggest the need for further studies of breakthrough pain and more effective therapeutic strategies.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of pain research
                Dove Medical Press
                17 December 2008
                : 2
                : 13-20
                Center of Ambulatory Pain Medicine, Neuss-Uedesheim, Germany
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Enno Freye, Deichstrasse 3, 41468 Neuss-Uedesheim, Germany, Tel +49 2131 3142421, Email enno.freye@ 123456uni-duesseldorf.de
                © 2009 Freye, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.



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