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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2010 Aug;40(2):266-78. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2010.01.013. Epub 2010 Jun 11.

A randomized, double-blind, double-dummy comparison of the efficacy and tolerability of low-dose transdermal buprenorphine (BuTrans seven-day patches) with buprenorphine sublingual tablets (Temgesic) in patients with osteoarthritis pain.

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Spring House Surgery, Bolton, Lancashire, United Kingdom.



Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common cause of chronic pain, particularly in the older population. Modern approaches to the management of OA pain recommend tailoring treatment to the individual. This study examines treatment options for OA pain in the form of low-dose transdermal and sublingual opioid analgesia.


The aims of this trial were to compare the efficacy and tolerability of seven-day, low-dose transdermal buprenorphine patches (BuTrans, Napp Pharmaceuticals Limited UK) with sublingual buprenorphine (Temgesic, Schering-Plough Limited UK) in patients with moderate to severe pain caused by OA of the hip(s) and/or knee(s), and to establish analgesic equivalence of the two products.


Two hundred forty-six patients with OA pain in the hip(s) and/or knee(s) were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, parallel-group study; 110 completed the study. Patients were randomized to receive transdermal buprenorphine patches (5, 10, and 20 microg/hour) or sublingual buprenorphine (200 and 400 microg tablets). Their medication was titrated to pain control and they were treated for up to seven weeks. The main outcome measures were pain intensity (primary outcome), sleep disturbance, quality of life, and safety assessments.


Patients' Box Scale-11 pain scores decreased between entry and assessment in both treatment groups. During the 28-day assessment period, the estimated mean treatment differences (95% confidence intervals) were 0.00 (-0.68,0.69), -0.11 (-0.85,0.63), and -0.13 (-0.95,0.68), for the morning, midday, and evening scores, respectively. All the confidence intervals were within the prespecified limits for equivalence (-1.5, 1.5). Use of escape medication was low. In both treatment groups, sleep disturbance caused by pain decreased between entry and assessment. Patients' quality of life improved during the study. Significantly fewer patients receiving the transdermal buprenorphine patches reported nausea (P=0.035), dizziness (P=0.026), and vomiting (P=0.039).


In conclusion, seven-day, low-dose transdermal buprenorphine patches are as effective as sublingual buprenorphine, with a better tolerability profile.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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