Managing severe cancer pain: The role of transdermal buprenorphine: A systematic review

S. Deandrea, O. Corli, I. Moschetti, Giovanni Apolone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pain is a frequent and important symptom in cancer patients. Among the available strong opioids, transdermal buprenorphine has been licensed in Europe since 2002, and results from a few clinical studies suggest that it may be a good alternative to the other oral or transdermal opioids. To assess the best available evidence on its efficacy and safety, we carried out a systematic literature review with the aim of pooling relevant studies. We identified 19 eligible papers describing 12 clinical studies (6 randomized controlled trials and 6 observational prospective studies), including a total of about 5000 cancer patients. Given the poor quality of reports and the heterogeneity of methods and outcomes, pooling was not feasible as the type of data was not appropriate for combining the results statistically. A meta-analysis based on individual data is ongoing in the context of the Cochrane Collaboration. In conclusion, although the narrative appraisal of each study suggests a positive risk benefit profile, well designed and statistically powered controlled clinical trials are needed to confirm this preliminary evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-718
Number of pages12
JournalTherapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Cancer pain
  • Systematic review
  • Transdermal buprenorphine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Medicine(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Safety Research
  • Chemical Health and Safety


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