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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2011 Dec;42(6):903-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2011.04.006. Epub 2011 Sep 25.

Efficacy and safety of the seven-day buprenorphine transdermal system in opioid-naïve patients with moderate to severe chronic low back pain: an enriched, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

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Purdue Pharma L.P., Stamford, Connecticut 06901-3431, USA.



This article presents the results of a pivotal Phase 3 study that assesses a new treatment for the management of chronic low back pain: a transdermal patch containing the opioid buprenorphine. In this randomized, placebo-controlled study with an enriched enrollment design, the buprenorphine transdermal system (BTDS) was found to be efficacious and generally well tolerated.


This enriched, multicenter, randomized, double-blind study evaluated the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of BTDS in opioid-naïve patients who had moderate to severe chronic low back pain.


Patients who tolerated and responded to BTDS (10 or 20 mcg/hour) during an open-label run-in period were randomized to continue BTDS 10 or 20 mcg/hour or receive matching placebo. The primary outcome was "average pain over the last 24 hours" at the end of the 12-week double-blind phase, collected on an 11-point scale (0=no pain, 10=pain as bad as you can imagine). Sleep disturbance (Medical Outcomes Study subscale) and total number of supplemental analgesic tablets used were secondary efficacy variables.


Fifty-three percent of patients receiving open-label BTDS (541 of 1024) were randomized to receive BTDS (n=257) or placebo (n=284). Patients receiving BTDS reported statistically significantly lower pain scores at Week 12 compared with placebo (least square mean treatment difference: -0.58, P=0.010). Sensitivity analyses of the primary efficacy variable and results of the analysis of secondary efficacy variables supported the efficacy of BTDS relative to placebo. During the double-blind phase, the incidence of treatment-emergent adverse events was 55% for the BTDS treatment group and 52% for the placebo treatment group. Laboratory, vital sign, and electrocardiogram evaluations did not reveal unanticipated safety findings.


BTDS was efficacious in the treatment of opioid-naïve patients with moderate to severe chronic low back pain. Most treatment-emergent adverse events observed were consistent with those associated with the use of opioid agonists and transdermal patches.


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