Buprenorphine for Cancer Pain: Is It Ready for Prime Time?

Eric Prommer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Buprenorphine (BUP) is a semisynthetic derivative of the opium alkaloid thebaine found in the poppy Papaver somniferum. Its chemical structure contains the morphine structure but differs by having a cyclopropylmethyl group. Buprenorphine is a potent µ opioid agonist. Buprenorphine undergoes extensive first-pass metabolism in the liver and gut. The development of a transdermal BUP formulation in 2001 led to its evaluation in cancer pain. This article provides the practitioner with an update on the current role of BUP in cancer care. It highlights data suggesting effectiveness in various types of cancer pain. The article reviews pharmacology, routes of administration, adverse effects, drug interactions, and cost considerations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)881-889
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • buprenorphine
  • cancer
  • neuropathic
  • opioid
  • pain
  • renal insufficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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