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A new transmucosal drug delivery system for patients with breakthrough cancer pain: the fentanyl effervescent buccal tablet

Authors Freye E

Published 17 December 2008 Volume 2009:2 Pages 13—20


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Enno Freye

Center of Ambulatory Pain Medicine, Neuss-Uedesheim, Germany

Abstract: Breakthrough pain, a transitory severe pain with the background of otherwise controlled persistent pain has a prevalence between 52% and 67% in outpatients with cancer. Medications for such sudden-onset pain require non-invasive delivery of a potent and short-acting opioid for rapid pain relief. Although oral transmucosal delivery of fentanyl citrate (OTFC) has been shown to provide better pain relief than a typical oral opioid administration such as morphine sulfate immediate release (MSIR) in the management of breakthrough pain in patients with cancer-related pain, newer delivery systems offer a potential for further enhancement of pain relief. The fentanyl effervescent buccal tablet (FBT) formulation employs a novel drug delivery system that relies on an effervescence reaction to improve buccal fentanyl absorption. Using the effervescence reaction results in the production and dissipation of carbon dioxide with a dynamic shift in pH as the tablet dissolves. The induced low pH favors dissolution of fentanyl citrate in saliva (higher water solubility). The subsequent increase in pH thereafter favors the buccal absorption of non-ionized fentanyl across the buccal mucosa. Such a pH “pumping” mechanism increases the permeation of fentanyl into and through the buccal to the vascular system from where the agent is transported to the specific opioid receptor sites in the CNS. Compared with OTFC, data in healthy volunteers show that the effervescence reaction employed in FBT increases the total amount and the speed of absorption of fentanyl being absorbed. Compared with OTFC there is an increase in peak fentanyl blood concentrations, and an enhancement of the amount of buccal delivery of fentanyl. Such favorable data are underlined by the results of clinical studies where the FBT technology was studied in patients with breakthrough pain in chronic malignant pathologies.

Keywords: breakthrough pain, fentanyl effervescent buccal tablet (FBT), cancer pain, effervescent technology

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