Effectiveness and tolerability of transdermal buprenorphine patches: A multicenter, prospective, open-label study in Asian patients with moderate to severe chronic musculoskeletal pain

Do Heum Yoon, Seong Il Bin, Simon Kin Cheong Chan, Chun Kee Chung, Yong In, Hyoungmin Kim, Juan Javier Lichauco, Chi Chiu Mok, Young Wan Moon, Tony Kwun Tung Ng, Ester Gonzales Penserga, Dong Ah Shin, Dora You, Hanlim Moon

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Background: We examined the effectiveness and tolerability of transdermal buprenorphine (TDB) treatment in real-world setting in Asian patients with musculoskeletal pain. Methods: This was an open-label study conducted in Hong Kong, Korea, and the Philippines between June 2013 and April 2015. Eligible patients fulfilled the following criteria: 18 to 80 years of age; clinical diagnosis of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, low back pain, or joint/muscle pain; chronic non-malignant pain of moderate to severe intensity (Box-Scale-11 [BS-11] pain score ≥ 4), not adequately controlled with non-opioid analgesics and requiring an opioid for adequate analgesia; and no prior history of opioid treatment. Patients started with a 5 μg/h buprenorphine patch and were titrated as necessary to a maximum of 40 μg/h over a 6-week period to achieve optimal pain control. Patients continued treatment with the titrated dose for 11 weeks. The primary efficacy endpoint was the change in BS-11 pain scores. Other endpoints included patients' sleep quality and quality of life as assessed by the 8-item Global Sleep Quality Assessment Scale (GSQA) questionnaire and the EuroQol Group 5-Dimension Self-Report Questionnaire-3 Level version (EQ-5D-3 L), respectively. Tolerability was assessed by collecting adverse events. Results: A total of 114 eligible patients were included in the analysis. The mean BS-11 score at baseline was 6.2 (SD 1.6). Following initiation of TDB, there was a statistically significant improvement in BS-11 score from baseline to visit 3 (least squares [LS] mean change: -2.27 [95% CI -2.66 to -1.87]), which was maintained till the end of the study (visit 7) (LS mean change: -2.64 [95% -3.05 to -2.23]) (p < 0.0001 for both). The proportion of patients who rated sleep quality as 'good' increased from 14.0% at baseline to 26.9% at visit 6. By visit 6, the mean EQ VAS score increased by 7.7 units (SD 17.9). There were also significant improvements in patients' levels of functioning for all EQ-5D-3 L dimensions from baseline at visit 6 (p < 0.05 for all). Seventy-eight percent of patients reported TEAEs and 22.8% of patients discontinued due to TEAEs. TEAEs were generally mild to moderate in intensity (96.5%). Conclusions: TDB provides effective pain relief with an acceptable tolerability profile over the 11-week treatment period in Asian patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain. More studies are needed to examine the long-term efficacy and safety of TBD treatment in this patient population. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01961271. Registered 7 October 2013 (retrospectively registered; first patient was enrolled on 28 June 2013 and last patient last visit date was 26 Apr 2015).

Original languageEnglish
Article number337
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Aug 4

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Statistical support was provided by Liang Shen and editorial support was provided by Hui Hwa Choo of Research2Trials Clinical Solutions Pte Ltd., Singapore and was funded by Mundipharma Pte Ltd., Singapore. ®: NORSPAN, BUTRANS, and RESTIVA are registered trade marks of Mundipharma AG. TM: SOVENOR is a trade mark of Mundipharma AG.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rheumatology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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