An effective treatment for patients with pain related to advanced cancer has been shown to be a buprenorphine patch that is worn on the skin, also known as a transdermal patch. A European study completed earlier this year has shown that this patch is an effective means for pain management and it has been judged to be safe for patients.
Buprenorphine is a narcotic pain medication that is usually taken in tablet form however, researchers now know that the patch form of buprenorphine is safe and effective in treating severe pain.
A comparison study was done with transdermal buprenorphine and a placebo patch in which Dr. Philippe Poulain of Institut Gustave-Roussy in Villejuif, France treated 289 patients. These patients were suffering severe pain related to their disease and used strong opiods to treat such pain. In the study, buprenorphine tablets were used as needed by patients in addition to the patch.
The subsequent report found in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management stated that a positive result was recorded when a patient’s pain was reduced by at least 5 points in intensity on a scale of 1-10. In addition, patients were to have taken less than three buprenorphine tablets daily.
Not all patients were able to complete the study due to the varying stages of their cancer and many quit at different points throughout. However, in the end 75% of those individuals using the patch had a positive response to the buprenorphine while only 50% of the patients given the placebo responded favorably.
“This result was supported by a lower daily pain intensity, lower intake of buprenorphine sublingual tablets and fewer dropouts in the transdermal buprenorphine group,” Poulain and colleagues write.
The researchers were able to conclude from the results of the study that the buprenorphine patch is, in fact, safe for patients as well as being an effective treatment for pain.