MIAMI, FloridaTwo separate multicenter trials suggest that dose
titration in patients with chronic, moderate to severe pain can be
achieved as readily with controlled-release (CR) oral oxyco-done
(OxyContin) given once every 12 hours as with an oral
intermediate-release (IR) formulation given four times a day.
In one study, 48 patients with cancer pain inadequately controlled by
prior analgesic therapy were randomized to open-label titration with
either CR or IR oxycodone to a maximum dose of 400 mg/d for a period
of up to 21 days. A similar study included 57 patients with low back
pain titrated to a maximum dose of 80 mg/d for a period of up to 10
days. The majority of patients in both studies were converted to
oxycodone from other opioid analgesics.
Miami physician Robert T. Salzman, MD, reported that, in both
studies, there were no significant differences between the two
formulations with respect to the percentage of patients achieving
stable pain control, the time to achieve stable pain control, and the
degree of pain control achieved.
Among the cancer patients, 85% achieved stable analgesia, 92% with
the CR formulation and 79% with the IR agent. Nearly 60% of the
cancer patients achieved stable pain control with no dose
titration, Dr. Salzman said. Further, the majority of patients
(68%) did not use a nonopioid analgesic during titration (J Pain
Symptom Manage 18:271-279, 1999).
Among the cancer patients, the mean time to stable pain control was
1.6 days for patients receiving CR oxycodone and 1.7 days for those
on IR oxycodone. The mean daily doses for the cancer patients who
completed the titration period were 104 mg for CR oxycodone and 113
mg for IR oxycodone.
At the end of the titration period, the patients pain
assessment diaries showed a slight level of pain in both
groups, which met the criteria for stable pain control (see Table).
Patients reported reductions in pain intensity from baseline
despite use of prestudy opioid analgesics by the majority, Dr.
The most commonly reported adverse effects in both studies were
similar for the two formulations and were those expected with opioid
use: nausea, vomiting, constipation, somnolence, dizziness, and
pruritus. Thirteen of the cancer patients discontinued treatment,
eight because of ineffective treatment or intercurrent illnesses,
three because of adverse events, and two for other reasons.
Many physicians start opioid therapy with an IR formulation,
which they titrate to stable pain control before switching to a CR
formulation for maintenance therapy, Dr. Salzman said. However,
he noted, certain long-acting opioid forms, including CR oxycodone,
exhibit a rapid absorption and prompt onset of action that make them
suitable for titration.
CR oxycodone is characterized by an initial rapid absorption of
38% of the dose, providing onset of analgesia with 1 hour in most
patients, he said. The initial phase is followed by
slower absorption of the remaining 62% of the dose for prolonged
The study was sponsored by Purdue Pharma, Norwalk, Connecticut.