Comparative efficacy and safety of controlled-release morphine suppositories and tablets in cancer pain

J Clin Pharmacol. 1998 Jan;38(1):74-81. doi: 10.1002/j.1552-4604.1998.tb04380.x.


Although the oral route is the preferred method of opioid therapy in patients with cancer pain, many patients will require an alternate route of analgesic administration at some point during the trajectory of their illness. This study compared the efficacy and safety of a novel, controlled-release suppository of morphine (MSC-R) and controlled-release morphine tablets (MSC-T) in patients with cancer pain. In a double-blind crossover study, 27 patients with cancer pain were randomized to receive MSC-R or MSC-T every 12 hours for 7 days each, using a 1:1 analgesic equivalence ratio. Pain intensity was assessed using a visual analog scale (VAS) and the Present Pain Intensity Index of the McGill Pain Questionnaire. Nausea and sedation were also assessed with a VAS. Pharmacodynamic assessments were made by the patient at 8:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 4:00 PM, and 8:00 PM and rescue morphine use recorded in a daily diary. There were no significant differences between MSC-R and MSC-T in overall scores for pain intensity VAS, ordinal pain intensity, and sedation. There was a small but significant difference in overall nausea VAS score in favor of MSC-R. Mean daily rescue analgesic use did not differ significantly during between treatment with MSC-R and MSC-T. MSC-R provides pain control comparable to that provided by MSC-T when given every 12 hours at a 1:1 dose ratio, and represents a reliable alternative method of pain control for patients unable to take oral opioid agents.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morphine / administration & dosage*
  • Morphine / adverse effects
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Pain, Intractable / drug therapy*
  • Suppositories
  • Tablets


  • Suppositories
  • Tablets
  • Morphine