The MERITO Study: a multicentre trial of the analgesic effect and tolerability of normal-release oral morphine during 'titration phase' in patients with cancer pain.Palliat Med. 2008 Apr; 22(3):214-21.PM
Adequate and rapid pain control is one of the main goals of cancer pain treatment. The objective of this study was to assess the effect and tolerability of oral normal-release morphine during the initial phase of treatment in patients with moderate-to-severe cancer pain. Consecutive patients naïve to strong opioids received normal-release morphine 5 or 10 mg every 4 h during the titration phase (first 5 days), depending on previous analgesic therapy. Pain intensity was assessed using an 11-point Numerical Rating Scale (0-10), and data were recorded in a patient-compiled diary. The primary endpoint was the proportion of time with pain control (a reduction of at least 50% with respect to the baseline pain score) during the titration phase. A total of 159 consecutive patients (102 men; mean age 65 years) with cancer-related pain were enrolled. Pain control was observed for 75% (95% CI 70-80) of the follow-up period in the intent-to-treat population. Overall, 50% and 75% of patients achieved pain control within 8 and 24 h after starting normal-release morphine therapy respectively. The mean pain score was 7.63 points at baseline, and decreased to 2.43 and 1.67 points (both P<0.001) at days 3 and 5 respectively. The most commonly reported adverse events were somnolence (24% of patients), constipation (22%), vomiting (13%), nausea (10%) and confusion (7%). Normal-release morphine results in rapid and satisfactory pain control, and is well tolerated, during the strong-opioid titration phase in patients with moderate-to-severe cancer pain.