POM: Prescription only medicine
This information is intended for use by health professionals
Patients aged 18 years and overThe lowest Reletrans strength (Reletrans 5 microgram/hour transdermal patch) should be used as the initial dose. Consideration should be given to the previous opioid history of the patient (see section 4.5) as well as to the current general condition and medical status of the patient.Reletrans should not be used at higher doses than recommended.Reletrans should be administered every 7th day.
TitrationDuring initiation and titration with Reletrans, patients should use the usual recommended doses of short-acting supplemental analgesics (see section 4.5) as needed until analgesic efficacy with Reletrans is attained.The dose should not be increased before 3 days, when the maximum effect of a given dose is established. Subsequent dose increases may then be titrated based on the need for supplemental pain relief and the patient's analgesic response to the transdermal patch. To increase the dose, a patch of a higher strength should replace the transdermal patch that is currently being worn, or a combination of patches should be applied in different places to achieve the desired dose. It is recommended that no more than two transdermal patches are applied at the same time, up to a maximum total dose of 40 microgram/hour. Patients should be carefully and regularly monitored to assess the optimum dose and duration of treatment.
Conversion from opioidsReletrans can be used as an alternative to treatment with other opioids. Such patients should be started on the lowest available strength (Reletrans 5 microgram/hour transdermal patch) and continue taking short-acting supplemental analgesics (see section 4.5) during titration, as required.
Duration of administrationReletrans should under no circumstances be administered for longer than absolutely necessary. If long-term pain treatment with Reletrans is necessary in view of the nature and severity of the illness, then careful and regular monitoring should be carried out (if necessary with breaks in treatment) to establish whether and to what extent further treatment is necessary.
DiscontinuationAfter removal of the transdermal patch, buprenorphine serum concentrations decrease gradually and thus the analgesic effect is maintained for a certain amount of time. This should be considered when therapy with Reletrans is to be followed by other opioids. As a general rule, a subsequent opioid should not be administered within 24 hours after removal of the transdermal patch. At present, only limited information is available on the starting dose of other opioids administered after discontinuation of the transdermal patch (see section 4.5).
Elderly patientsNo dose adjustment of Reletrans is required in elderly patients.
Renal impairmentNo special dose adjustment of Reletrans is necessary in patients with renal impairment.
Hepatic impairmentBuprenorphine is metabolised in the liver. The intensity and duration of its action may be affected in patients with impaired liver function. Therefore, patients with hepatic insufficiency should be carefully monitored during treatment with Reletrans.Patients with severe hepatic impairment may accumulate buprenorphine during Reletrans treatment. Alternate therapy should be considered, and Reletrans should be used with caution, if at all, in such patients.
Paediatric populationAs Reletrans has not been studied in patients under 18 years of age the use of Reletrans in patients below this age is not recommended.
Method of administrationTransdermal use.Transdermal patch application:Reletrans should be applied to non-irritated, intact skin of the upper outer arm, upper chest, upper back or the side of the chest, but not to any parts of the skin with large scars. Reletrans should be applied to a relatively hairless or nearly hairless skin site. If none are available, the hair at the site should be cut with scissors, not shaven.If the application site must be cleaned, it should be done with clean water only. Soaps, alcohol, oils, lotions or abrasive devices must not be used. The skin must be dry before the transdermal patch is applied. Reletrans should be applied immediately after removal from the sealed sachet. Following removal of the protective layer, the transdermal patch should be pressed firmly in place with the palm of the hand for approximately 30 seconds, making sure the contact is complete, especially around the edges. If the edges of the transdermal patch begin to peel off, the edges may be taped down with suitable skin tape.Bathing, showering, or swimming should not affect the transdermal patch. If a patch falls off, a new one should be applied.A new transdermal patch should not be applied to the same skin site for the subsequent 3-4 weeks (see section 5.2).
Patients with fever or exposed to external heatWhile wearing the transdermal patch, patients should be advised to avoid exposing the application site to external heat sources, such as heating pads, electric blankets, heat lamps, sauna, hot tubs, and heated water beds, etc., as an increase in absorption of buprenorphine may occur. When treating febrile patients, one should be aware that fever may also increase absorption resulting in increased plasma concentrations of buprenorphine and thereby increased risk of opioid reactions. Athletes must be aware that this medicinal product may cause a positive reaction to sports doping control tests.
Effect of other active substances on the pharmacokinetics of buprenorphineBuprenorphine is primarily metabolised by glucuronidation and to a lesser extent (about 30%) by CYP3A4. Concomitant treatment with CYP3A4 inhibitors may lead to elevated plasma concentrations with intensified efficacy of buprenorphine.A drug interaction study with the CYP3A4 inhibitor ketoconazole did not produce clinically relevant increases in mean maximum (Cmax) or total (AUC) buprenorphine exposure following use of buprenorphine transdermal patches with ketoconazole as compared to buprenorphine transdermal patches alone.The interaction between buprenorphine and CYP3A4 enzyme inducers has not been studied. Co-administration of Reletrans and enzyme inducers (e.g. phenobarbital, carbamazepine, phenytoin and rifampicin) could lead to increased clearance which might result in reduced efficacy.Reductions in hepatic blood flow induced by some general anaesthetics (e.g. halothane) and other medicinal products may result in a decreased rate of hepatic elimination of buprenorphine.
Reletrans should be used cautiously with:
- Sedative medicinal products such as benzodiazepines or related medicinal products:
The concomitant use of opioids with sedative medicinal products such as benzodiazepines or related medicinal products increases the risk of sedation, respiratory depression, coma and death because of additive CNS depressant effect. The dose and duration of concomitant use should be limited (see section 4.4).
- Other central nervous system depressants: other opioid derivatives (analgesics and antitussives containing e.g. morphine, dextropropoxyphene, codeine, dextromethorphan or noscapine). Certain antidepressants, sedative H1-receptor antagonists, alcohol, anxiolytics, neuroleptics, clonidine and related substances. These combinations increase the CNS depressant activity.
At typical analgesic doses buprenorphine is described to function as a pure mu receptor agonist. In buprenorphine transdermal patch clinical studies subjects receiving full mu agonist opioids (up to 90 mg oral morphine or oral morphine equivalents per day) were transferred to buprenorphine transdermal patches. There were no reports of abstinence syndrome or opioid withdrawal during conversion from entry opioid to buprenorphine transdermal patches (see section 4.4).
PregnancyThere are no or limited amounts of data from the use of Reletrans in pregnant women. Studies in animals have shown reproductive toxicity (see section 5.3). The potential risk for humans is unknown. Towards the end of pregnancy high doses of buprenorphine may induce respiratory depression in the newborn infant even after a short period of administration. Long-term administration of buprenorphine during the last three months of pregnancy may cause a withdrawal syndrome in the newborn infant. Therefore, Reletrans should not be used during pregnancy and in women of childbearing potential who are not using effective contraception.
Breast-feedingBuprenorphine is excreted in human milk. Studies in rats have shown that buprenorphine may inhibit lactation. Available pharmacodynamic/toxicological data in animals have shown excretion of buprenorphine in milk (see section 5.3). Therefore, the use of Reletrans during lactation should be avoided.
FertilityNo human data on the effect of buprenorphine on fertility are available. In a fertility and early embryonic development study, no effects on reproductive parameters were observed in male or female rats (see section 5.3).
System organ class
Immune system disorders
|hypersensitivity||anaphylactic reaction, anaphylactoid reaction|
Metabolism and nutrition disorders
|confusion, depression, insomnia, nervousness||sleep disorder, restlessness, agitation, depersonalisation, euphoric mood, affect lability, anxiety, hallucinations, nightmares||psychotic disorder, decreased libido||drug dependence, mood swings|
Nervous system disorders
|headache, dizziness, somnolence||paraesthesia||sedation, dysgeusia, dysarthria, hypoaesthesia, memory impairment, migraine, syncope, tremor, abnormal coordination, disturbance in attention||balance disorder, speech disorder||involuntary muscle contractions|
|dry eye, blurred vision||visual disturbance, eyelid oedema, miosis|
Ear and labyrinth disorders
|tinnitus, vertigo||ear pain|
|angina pectoris, palpitations, tachycardia|
|vasodilatation||hypotension, circulatory collapse, hypertension, flushing|
Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders
|dyspnoea||asthma aggravated, cough, hypoxia, rhinitis, wheezing, hyperventilation, hiccups||respiratory depression, respiratory failure|
|Constipation, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting||abdominal pain, diarrhoea, dyspepsia||flatulence||diverticulitis, dysphagia, ileus|
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders
|pruritus, erythema||rash, sweating, exanthema||dry skin, face oedema, urticaria, dermatitis contact||pustules, vesicles|
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders
|muscle cramp, myalgia, muscular weakness, muscle spasms|
Renal and urinary disorders
|urinary retention, micturition disorder|
Reproductive system and breast disorders
|erectile dysfunction, sexual dysfunction|
General disorders and administration site conditions
|application site pruritus, application site reaction||tiredness, asthenia, pain, peripheral oedema, application site erythema, application site rash, chest pain||fatigue, influenza like illness, pyrexia, rigors, malaise, oedema, drug withdrawal syndrome||application site inflammation*|
|alanine aminotransferase increased, weight decreased|
Injury, poisoning and procedural complications
|accidental injury, fall|
Reporting of suspected adverse reactionsReporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme Website:www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard or search for MHRA Yellow Card in the Google Play or Apple App Store.
SymptomsSymptoms similar to those of other centrally acting analgesics are to be expected. These include respiratory depression, sedation, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, cardiovascular collapse and marked miosis.
TreatmentAny transdermal patches should be removed from the patient's skin. A patent airway should be established and maintained, respiration assisted or controlled as indicated and adequate body temperature and fluid balance maintained. Oxygen, intravenous fluids, vasopressors and other supportive measures should be employed as indicated.A specific opioid antagonist such as naloxone may reverse the effects of buprenorphine. The dose of naloxone may be in the range 5 to 12 mg intravenously. The onset of the naloxone effect may be delayed by 30 minutes or more. Maintenance of adequate ventilation is more important than treatment with naloxone.
Mechanism of actionBuprenorphine is a partial agonist opioid, acting at the mu opioid receptor. It also has antagonistic activity at the kappa opioid receptor.
Clinical efficacy and safetyEfficacy has been demonstrated in five pivotal phase III studies of up to 12 weeks duration in patients with nonmalignant pain of various aetiologies. These included patients with moderate and severe OA and back pain. Buprenorphine transdermal patches demonstrated clinically significant reductions in pain scores (approximately 3 points on the BS-11 scale) and significantly greater pain control compared with placebo.A long term, open-label extension study (n=384) has also been performed in patients with non-malignant pain. With chronic dosing, 63% of patients were maintained in pain control for 6 months, 39% of patients for 12 months, 13% of patients for 18 months and 6% for 21 months. Approximately 17% were stabilised on the 5 microgram/hour strength, 35% on the 10 microgram/hour strength and 48% on the 20 microgram/hour strength.
AbsorptionFollowing Reletrans application, buprenorphine diffuses from the transdermal patch through the skin. In clinical pharmacology studies, the median time for buprenorphine transdermal patches 10 microgram/hour to deliver detectable buprenorphine concentrations (25 picograms/ml) was approximately 17 hours. Analysis of residual buprenorphine in transdermal patches after 7-day use shows 15% of the original load delivered. A study of bioavailability, relative to intravenous administration, confirms that this amount is systemically absorbed. Buprenorphine concentrations remain relatively constant during the 7-day patch application.Application site:A study in healthy subjects demonstrated that the pharmacokinetic profile of buprenorphine delivered by buprenorphine transdermal patch is similar when applied to upper outer arm, upper chest, upper back or the side of the chest (midaxillary line, 5th intercostal space). The absorption varies to some extent depending on the application site and the exposure is at the most approximately 26% higher when applied to the upper back compared to the side of the chest.In a study of healthy subjects receiving buprenorphine transdermal patch repeatedly to the same site, an almost doubled exposure was seen with a 14 day rest period. For this reason, rotation of application sites is recommended, and a new transdermal patch should not be applied to the same skin site for 3-4 weeks.In a study of healthy subjects, application of a heating pad directly on the transdermal patch caused a transient 26 - 55% increase in blood concentrations of buprenorphine. Concentrations returned to normal within 5 hours after the heat was removed. For this reason, applying direct heat sources such as hot water bottles, heat pads or electric blankets directly to the transdermal patch is not recommended. A heating pad applied to a buprenorphine transdermal patch site immediately after transdermal patch removal did not alter absorption from the skin depot.
DistributionThere is evidence of enterohepatic recirculation.Studies in non-pregnant and pregnant rats have shown that buprenorphine passes the bloodbrain and placental barriers. Concentrations in the brain (which contained only unchanged buprenorphine) after parenteral administration were 2-3 times higher than after oral administration. After intramuscular or oral administration buprenorphine apparently accumulates in the foetal gastrointestinal lumen presumably due to biliary excretion, as enterohepatic circulation has not fully developed.Each transdermal patch provides a steady delivery of buprenorphine for up to seven days. Steady state is achieved during the first application. After removal of Reletrans, buprenorphine concentrations decline, decreasing approximately 50% in 12 hours (range 1024 h).Buprenorphine is approximately 96% bound to plasma proteins. Studies of intravenous buprenorphine have shown a large volume of distribution, implying extensive distribution of buprenorphine. In a study of intravenous buprenorphine in healthy subjects, the volume of distribution at steady state was 430 l, reflecting the large volume of distribution and lipophilicity of the active substance. Following intravenous administration, buprenorphine and its metabolites are secreted into bile, and within several minutes, distributed into the cerebrospinal fluid. Buprenorphine concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid appear to be approximately 15% to 25% of concurrent plasma concentrations.
Biotransformation and eliminationBuprenorphine metabolism in the skin following Reletrans application is negligible. Following transdermal application, buprenorphine is eliminated via hepatic metabolism, with subsequent biliary excretion and renal excretion of soluble metabolites. Hepatic metabolism, through CYP3A4 and UGT1A1/1A3 enzymes, results in two primary metabolites, norbuprenorphine and buprenorphine 3-O-glucuronide, respectively. Norbuprenorphine is glucuronidated before elimination. Buprenorphine is also eliminated in the faeces. In a study in post-operative patients, the total elimination of buprenorphine was shown to be approximately 55 l/h.Norbuprenorphine is the only known active metabolite of buprenorphine.Effect of buprenorphine on the pharmacokinetics of other active substances:Based on in vitro studies in human microsomes and hepatocytes, buprenorphine does not have the potential to inhibit metabolism catalysed by the CYP450 enzymes CYP1A2, CYP2A6 and CYP3A4 at concentrations obtained with use of Reletrans 20 microgram/hour transdermal patch. The effect on metabolism catalysed by CYP2C8, CYP2C9 and CYP2C19 has not been studied.
Reproductive and developmental toxicityNo effect on fertility or general reproductive performance was observed in rats treated with buprenorphine. In embryofoetal developmental toxicity studies conducted in rats and rabbits using buprenorphine, no embryofoetal toxicity effects were observed. In a rat pre- and post-natal developmental toxicity study with buprenorphine there was pup mortality, decreased pup body weight and concomitant maternal reduced food consumption and clinical signs.
GenotoxicityA standard battery of genotoxicity tests indicated that buprenorphine is non-genotoxic.
CarcinogenicityIn long-term studies in rats and mice there was no evidence of any carcinogenic potential relevant for humans.
Systemic toxicity and dermal toxicityIn single- and repeat-dose toxicity studies in rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs and mini pigs, buprenorphine transdermal patch caused minimal or no adverse systemic events, whereas skin irritation was observed in all species examined. Toxicological data available did not indicate a sensitising potential of the additives of the transdermal patches.