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A randomized, double-blind study of hydromorphone hydrochloride extended-release tablets versus oxycodone hydrochloride extended-release tablets for cancer pain: efficacy and safety in Japanese cancer patients (EXHEAL: a Phase III study of EXtended-release HydromorphonE for cAncer pain reLief)

Authors Inoue S, Saito Y, Tsuneto S, Aruga E, Ide A, Kakurai Y

Received 13 March 2017

Accepted for publication 19 July 2017

Published 18 August 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 1953—1962


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr E Alfonso Romero-Sandoval

Satoshi Inoue,1 Yoji Saito,2 Satoru Tsuneto,3 Etsuko Aruga,4 Azusa Ide,1 Yasuyuki Kakurai5

1Clinical Development Department, R&D Division, Daiichi Sankyo, Tokyo,2Department of Anesthesiology, Faculty of Medicine, Shimane University, Shimane, 3Human Health Sciences, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, 4Department of Palliative Medicine, School of Medicine, Teikyo University, Tokyo, 5Biostatistics and Data Management Department, R&D Division, Daiichi Sankyo, Tokyo, Japan

Background: In Japan, there are limited options for switching opioid analgesics. Hydromorphone is an opioid analgesic that is routinely used instead of morphine for cancer pain; however, it is not yet available in Japan. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of hydromorphone (DS-7113b) extended-release tablets in opioid-naïve patients with cancer pain not relieved by non-opioid analgesics.
Subjects and methods: This was a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group trial. A double-dummy method was used for blinding. Each randomized subject received either hydromorphone extended-release tablets plus placebo oxycodone hydrochloride extended-release tablets 4 mg/day (n=88) or placebo hydromorphone extended-release tablets plus oxycodone hydrochloride extended-release tablets 10 mg/day (n=93) orally for 7 days (once-daily dosing for hydromorphone and twice-daily dosing for oxycodone). The doses were adjusted as necessary. Efficacy was evaluated by change in visual analog scale (VAS) score from baseline to completion of treatment.
Results: The between-group difference in least squares mean changes in VAS score from baseline to completion or discontinuation of treatment was −0.4 mm (95% CI −5.9 to 5 mm) by analysis of covariance where the baseline VAS score was used as a covariate. The upper limit of the 95% CI was below 10 mm, which was predefined as the noninferiority limit. This verified the noninferiority of hydromorphone tablets relative to oxycodone tablets. The incidence of adverse events was 80.7% (71 of 88) in the hydromorphone group and 83.7% (77 of 93) in the oxycodone group. The most common adverse events were nausea, vomiting, somnolence, diarrhea, and constipation, most of which are commonly observed with opioid analgesics.
Conclusion: The efficacy and safety of hydromorphone extended-release tablets were equivalent to those of the oxycodone extended-release formulation.

Keywords: hydromorphone, oxycodone, cancer pain, palliative medicine, double-blind study

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