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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2001 Jul;22(1):575-83.

Long-term safety of oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate for breakthrough cancer pain.

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Pain and Palliative Care Service, Department of Neurology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


This open-label study evaluated the long-term safety and tolerability of oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate (OTFC) in ambulatory cancer patients with breakthrough pain undergoing cancer care at 32 university- or community-based practices. Patients had participated in a previous short-term titration trial of OTFC, were experiencing at least one episode per day of breakthrough pain, and had achieved relief of their breakthrough pain with an opioid. Patients received OTFC units at a starting dosage strength determined in the short-term trial (200-1600 microg). Outcome measures included number of successfully treated breakthrough pains, global satisfaction rating (0 = poor through 4 = excellent), and side effects. In total, 41,766 units of OTFC were used to treat 38,595 episodes of breakthrough pain in 155 patients. Number of treatment days ranged from 1 to 423 (mean, 91 days). Patients averaged 2.9 breakthrough pain episodes per day. About 92% of episodes were successfully treated with OTFC and there was no trend toward decreased effectiveness over time. Most patients (61%) did not require dose escalation during treatment. Global satisfaction ratings were consistently above 3, indicating very good to excellent relief. Common adverse events associated with OTFC were somnolence (9%), constipation (8%), nausea (8%), dizziness (8%), and vomiting (5%). Six patients (4%) discontinued therapy due to an OTFC-related adverse event. There were no reports of abuse and no concerns about the safety of the drug raised by patients or families. OTFC was used safely and effectively during long-term treatment of breakthrough pain in cancer patients at home.

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