Patients with advanced cancer experienced fewer episodes of breakthrough cancer pain (BTcP) and rapid pain relief with fentanyl buccal tablets (FBTs), according to a study published in Supportive Care in Cancer.

This prospective, noninterventional trial evaluated the response of 276 patients to FBT from 64 pain and oncology clinics. Pain was assessed utilizing a numeric rating scale, and other measurements such as BTcP episodes, opioid therapy, and FBT dose were recorded at baseline. An interim evaluation occurred 2 to 4 weeks after study initiation, and a final follow-up was performed at 8 weeks.

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At baseline, 77% of study patients described their pain quality as being mixed, while 14% experienced nociceptive pain, and 9% experienced neuropathic pain. Patients had previously received pain treatment with transdermal fentanyl, hydromorphone, oxycodone, sustained-release morphine, and buprenorphine.

The median pain intensity score was 6 points, and patients experienced an average of 2 to 5 BTcP episodes per day.

After successful titration of FBT, 36% of patients reported achieving BTcP control within 5 minutes, 68% within 10 minutes, and 95% within 15 minutes. The pain intensity score decreased to 4, and patients experienced less than 1 to 3 episodes of BTcP daily.

Eighty-nine percent to 99% of patients rated BTcP control and FBT onset of action, potency, tolerability, and safety as good or excellent.

The results of the study demonstrate that FBT is a well-tolerated and effective therapeutic option for BTcP.


1. Masel EK, Landthaler R, Gneist M, Watzke HH. Fentanyl buccal tablet for breakthrough cancer pain in clinical practice: results of the non-interventional prospective study ErkentNIS [published online August 28, 2017]. Support Care Cancer. doi: 10.1007/s00520-017-3853-y