Original Article| Volume 10, ISSUE 8, P612-623, November 1995

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Randomized evaluation of controlled-release codeine and placebo in chronic cancer pain

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      Codeine is widely used in combination with acetaminophen and aspirin for the management of mild to moderate pain. However, there are few controlled clinical trials of single-entity codeine in chronic cancer pain. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of controlled-release codeine given every 12 hr in patients with cancer pain. Thirty-five patients with chronic cancer pain were randomized in a double-blind crossover study to controlled-release (CR) codeine or placebo, for 7 days each. Pain intensity was assessed at 0800 hr and 2000 hr using a visual analogue scale (VAS) and a five-point categorical scale, and the use of “rescue” acetaminophen-plus-codeine (300 mg/30 mg every 4 hr as needed) was recorded. Thirty patients completed the study (17 male, 13 female; mean age, 64.4 ± 9.8 years) with a mean daily CR codeine dose of 277 ± 77 mg (range, 200–400 mg). CR codeine treatment resulted in significantly lower overall VAS pain intensity scores (22 ± 0.8 mm versus 36 ± 20 mm, P = 0.0001), categorical pain intensity scores (1.2 ± 0.8 versus 1.8 ± 0.8, P = 0.0001), and pain scores when assessed by day of treatment and by time of day. Daily “rescue” analgesic consumption was significantly lower on CR codeine, compared to placebo treatment (2.2 ± 2.3 versus 4.6 ± 2.8 tablets per day, P = 0.0001). Both patients and investigators preferred CR codeine to placebo (80% versus 3%, P = 0.0014 and 73% versus 7%, P = 0.0160, respectively). These data indicate that CR codeine, given every 12 hr results in significant reductions in pain intensity and the use of “rescue” acetaminophen-plus-codeine in patients with cancer pain. CR codeine provides the benefits of a flexible single entity codeine formulation and the convenience of 12-hr duration of action, which allows patients uninterrupted sleep and improved compliance.



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