From the *Department of Psychiatry, Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, Staten Island University Hospital, Staten Island, New York†Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York‡Division of Pain Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, Hospital for Special Surgery, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York§Department of Anesthesia and Pain Management, Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada‖Division of Pain Medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York.
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Clinical studies demonstrate that buprenorphine is a pharmacologic agent that can be used for the treatment of various types of painful conditions. This study investigated the efficacy of 5 different types of buprenorphine formulations in the chronic pain population. The literature was reviewed on PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Database, clinicaltrials.gov, and PROSPERO that dated from inception until June 30, 2017. Using the population, intervention, comparator, and outcomes method, 25 randomized controlled trials were reviewed involving 5 buprenorphine formulations in patients with chronic pain: intravenous buprenorphine, sublingual buprenorphine, sublingual buprenorphine/naloxone, buccal buprenorphine, and transdermal buprenorphine, with comparators consisting of opioid analgesics or placebo. Of the 25 studies reviewed, a total of 14 studies demonstrated clinically significant benefit with buprenorphine in the management of chronic pain: 1 study out of 6 sublingual and intravenous buprenorphine, the only sublingual buprenorphine/naloxone study, 2 out of 3 studies of buccal buprenorphine, and 10 out of 15 studies for transdermal buprenorphine showed significant reduction in pain against a comparator. No serious adverse effects were reported in any of the studies. We conclude that a transdermal buprenorphine formulation is an effective analgesic in patients with chronic pain, while buccal buprenorphine is also a promising formulation based on the limited number of studies.