Novel Technology Breaks Through Cancer Pain
Breaks Through Cancer Pain
Cancer patients fraught with flare-ups of pain, or breakthrough pain, may soon receive some assistance in the form of a new easy-to-use oral drug delivery system developed by BioDelivery Sciences designed to quickly deliver pain medication.
Cancer patients frequently experience two types of pain: persistent and breakthrough. Persistent cancer pain is characterized as continuous pain present for long periods of time, and often most of the day. Persistent pain is treated by daily or regular doses of pain medication.
Breakthrough pain is a brief and often severe shooting of pain that "breaks through" a patient's continuous medication for persistent pain. Breakthrough pain often has a rapid onset and lasts a short duration of time. It is called breakthrough pain because it "breaks through" a regular pain medicine schedule.
"Breakthrough pain is caused either by the cancer itself or the cancer treatment. For some patients, the pain is connected to certain activities, such as walking or dressing. For others, it occurs unexpectedly," says Dr. Andrew Finn, BioDelivery Sciences' VP of Product Development.
One breakthrough pain medication is the opiate fentanyl. Fentanyl is a potent opioid analgesic (painkiller) first developed in the 1950s, and long in use by the medical community for controlling various types of pain.
The next generation product able to quickly deliver fentanyl for the treatment of cancer breakthrough pain is a patient-friendly, small oral adhesive disc called BEMA Fentanyl, which has recently completed Phase III trials by BioDelivery Sciences. The BEMA technology is a very small layered disc that is applied to a mucosal surface (inner lining of the mouth) in a similar way a transdermal disc is applied to the skin.
The small disc is composed of an adhesive layer and a non-adhesive backing layer. The disc adheres to the inside cheeks and delivers the dose of medication quickly into the bloodstream. Instead of requiring removal upon completion of the drug delivery, the BEMA disc disintegrates in the mouth and leaves no drug residue.
The results of the Phase III pivotal efficacy clinical trial in cancer patients with breakthrough pain announced earlier this year with BEMA Fentanyl are very encouraging.
"The results of our study demonstrated that fentanyl could be delivered rapidly, effectively and easily using the BEMA technology," said Finn. "Besides allowing greater absorption of fentanyl, the BEMA disc was easier to use, as it only required seconds to apply."
It is estimated that at least 60 percent of people with advanced cancer will experience significant pain of some type, oftentimes including breakthrough pain.