A clinical evaluation of transdermal therapeutic system fentanyl for the treatment of cancer pain

Paul A. Sloan, Dwight E. Moulin, Helen Hays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Fentanyl has been incorporated into a transdermal therapeutic system (TTS) containing a rate-limiting membrane that provides constant release of the opioid. TTS fentanyl provides continuous opioid delivery for up to 72 hr without the need for special equipment. After Institutional Review Board approval, 53 patients with cancer pain requiring 45 mg or more of oral morphine daily were admitted into an open-label, prospective, multicenter evaluation of TTS fentanyl for the relief of pain. After a 1-week stabilization on oral morphine, patients were transferred from morphine to an appropriate dose of TTS-fentanyl (25, 50, 75, or 100 μg/hr) administered as a transdermal patch every 3 days. TTS fentanyl was titrated to pain relief, and patients were followed up for as long as 3 months. Pain relief and the side effects of the medications were assessed daily. Twenty-six men and 27 women with a mean (± SD) age of 61 (± 12) years entered the study; 23 patients completed the full 84-day study. The mean duration of TTS fentanyl use was 58 ± 32 days. The mean (± SEM) daily morphine dose during the last 2 days of stabilization was 189 (± 20) mg, and the mean initial fentanyl patch dose was 58 (± 6) μg/hr. The mean daily morphine dose taken 'as needed' for breakthrough pain at study completion was 35 mg. The mean final fentanyl dosage at study completion was 169 (± 29) μg/hr. Pain relief was rated as good or excellent by 82% of patients during the treatment period. When asked to compare pain relief during the first month of TTS-fentanyl use to that provided by their last analgesic before study entry, 63% preferred TTS fentanyl. Side effects considered related to the fentanyl patch were nausea (13%), vomiting (8%), skin rash (8%), and drowsiness (4%). Thirty percent of patients reported adverse experiences related to the fentanyl patch, and 17% had to be discontinued from the study. We conclude that TTS fentanyl administered every 3 days for the treatment of cancer pain is effective, safe, and well tolerated by most patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-111
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc.


  • Cancer pain
  • Opioid analgesia
  • Opioid side effects
  • Transdermal fentanyl

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing (all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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