In animal research, obtaining efficient and constant pain control is regulatory but challenging. The gold standard pain management consists of opioid analgesic administration, such as buprenorphine or fentanyl extended-release patches. However, as in all drugs with a short half-life time, repeated buprenorphine administrations are needed, leading to multiple injections that affect the research protocol. On the other hand, fentanyl patch efficacy is discussed in some species. These elements highlight the need of an optimal formulation of analgesic drugs for laboratory animals. In this study, we investigated how Recuvyra®, a fentanyl transdermal solution (FTS), validated in dog perioperative pain management, could provide sustained analgesia after a single topical administration in pigs in a surgical context.
A total of 11 minipigs were used in this study. As a preliminary experiment, two different doses were tested as a single application on five pigs: two pigs at full dose (2.6 mg/kg) and three pigs at half dose (1.3 mg/kg). Plasma fentanyl dosages were performed during 4 consecutive days, using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry detection. The efficacy of FTS was then evaluated in a perioperative period. Six minipigs benefited from a surgical intervention comprising a laparotomy. The FTS was blotted on the skin in a single application 20 min before the surgical incision and plasma fentanyl dosages, clinical examination (body weight, food intake, heart rate, and body temperature) and pain assessment were performed for 7 consecutive days.
During the preliminary experiment, all fentanyl concentrations reached the minimum effective concentration (MEC) extrapolated in pigs (fentanylemia ≥0.2 ng/mL) throughout the 4 days. The half dose was chosen for the next step of the study. After the surgical intervention, all plasma fentanyl concentrations remained above the MEC up to 7 days post administration. Pig clinical examinations and pain evaluations showed efficient and constant pain control at the half dose, and few adverse events were observed.
This study confirms the pharmacological and clinical efficacy of FTS at 1.3 mg/kg in pigs throughout at least 7 postoperative days following laparotomy. The clinical analgesic effect of FTS appears more efficient and well-tolerated than the one observed with repeated injections of buprenorphine. This analgesic drug formulation could be universally used in animal research to provide optimal perioperative pain management and long-term analgesia.

© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel.