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ABSTRAL (fentanyl) sublingual tablets are indicated for the management of breakthrough pain in cancer patients 18 years of age and older who are already receiving and who are tolerant to opioid therapy for their underlying persistent cancer pain. Patients considered opioid tolerant are those who are taking around-theclock medicine consisting of at least 60 mg of oral morphine daily, or at least 25 mcg of transdermal fentanyl/hour, or at least 30 mg of oral oxycodone daily, or at least 8 mg of oral hydromorphone daily or at least 25 mg oral oxymorphone daily, or an equianalgesic dose of another opioid medication daily for a week or longer. Patients must remain on around-the-clock opioids when taking ABSTRAL.

ABSTRAL is contraindicated for patients who are not already tolerant to opioids because life-threatening respiratory depression and death could result at any dose in patients not on a chronic regimen of opioids. For this reason, ABSTRAL is contraindicated in the management of acute or postoperative pain, including headache/migraine, dental pain, or use in the emergency room.

ABSTRAL is intended to be prescribed only by healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable of, and skilled in, the use of Schedule II opioids to treat cancer pain.

Limitations of Use

As a part of the TIRF REMS Access program, ABSTRAL may be dispensed only to outpatients enrolled in the program [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. For inpatient administration of ABSTRAL (e.g., hospitals, hospices, and long-term care facilities that prescribe for inpatient use), patient and prescriber enrollment is not required.


Healthcare professionals who prescribe ABSTRAL on an outpatient basis must enroll in the TIRF REMS Access program and comply with the requirements of the REMS to ensure safe use of ABSTRAL [See WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

As with all opioids, the safety of patients using such products is dependent on health care professionals prescribing them in strict conformity with their approved labeling with respect to patient selection, dosing, and proper conditions for use.

Dose Titration

The objective of dose titration is to identify an effective and tolerable maintenance dose for ongoing management of breakthrough cancer pain episodes. The effective and tolerable dose of ABSTRAL will be determined by dose titration in individual patients.

Carefully supervise patients until a dose that provides adequate analgesia with tolerable side effects is reached for breakthrough pain control.

Starting Dose

Individually titrate ABSTRAL to a dose that provides adequate analgesia with tolerable side effects. Begin titration of all patients with an initial dose of ABSTRAL of 100 mcg. Due to differences in the pharmacokinetic properties and individual variability, even patients switching from other fentanyl containing products to ABSTRAL must start with the 100 mcg dose. ABSTRAL is not equivalent on a mcg per mcg basis with all other fentanyl products, therefore, do not switch patients on a mcg per mcg basis from any other fentanyl product. ABSTRAL is NOT a generic version of any other fentanyl product.

Start all patients with a single 100 mcg tablet.

  • If adequate analgesia is obtained within 30 minutes of administration of the 100 mcg tablet, continue to treat subsequent episodes of breakthrough pain with this dose.
  • If adequate analgesia is not obtained after ABSTRAL, the patient may use a second ABSTRAL dose (after 30 minutes) as directed by their health care provider. No more than two doses of ABSTRAL may be used to treat an episode of breakthrough pain.
  • Patients must wait at least 2 hours before treating another episode of breakthrough pain with ABSTRAL.
Titration Steps

If adequate analgesia was not obtained with the first 100 mcg dose, continue dose escalation in a stepwise manner over consecutive breakthrough episodes until adequate analgesia with tolerable side effects is achieved. Increase the dose by 100 mcg multiples up to 400 mcg as needed. If adequate analgesia is not obtained with a 400 mcg dose, the next titration step is 600 mcg. If adequate analgesia is not obtained with a 600 mcg dose, the next titration step is 800 mcg. During titration, patients can be instructed to use multiples of 100 mcg tablets and/or 200 mcg tablets for any single dose. Instruct patients not to use more than 4 tablets at one time. If adequate analgesia is not obtained 30 minutes after the use of ABSTRAL, the patient may repeat the same dose of ABSTRAL. No more than two doses of ABSTRAL may be used to treat an episode of breakthrough pain. Rescue medication as directed by the health care provider can be used if adequate analgesia is not achieved after use of ABSTRAL.

The efficacy and safety of doses higher than 800 mcg have not been evaluated in clinical studies in patients.

ABSTRAL Titration Process

ABSTRAL Titration Process - Illustration

ABSTRAL dosing for a subsequent episode should be separated by at least 2 hour

ABSTRAL dose Using
200 mcg 2 x 100 mcg tablets, or
1 x 200 mcg tablets
300 mcg 3 x 100 mcg tablets, or
1 x 300 mcg tablets
400 mcg 4 x 100 mcg tablets, or
2 x 200 mcg tablets, or
1 x 400 mcg tablets
600 mcg 3x200 mcg tablets, or
1 x 600 mcg tablets
800 mcg 4x200 mcg tablets, or
1 x 800 mcg tablets

In order to minimize the risk of ABSTRAL-related adverse reactions and to identify the appropriate dose, it is imperative that patients be supervised closely by health professionals during the titration process.

Maintenance Therapy

Once an appropriate dose for pain management has been established, instruct patients to use only one ABSTRAL tablet of the appropriate strength per dose. Maintain patients on this dose.

If adequate analgesia is not obtained after use of ABSTRAL, the patient may use a second ABSTRAL dose (after 30 minutes) as directed by their health care provider. No more than two doses of ABSTRAL may be used to treat an episode of breakthrough pain.

Patients must wait at least 2 hours before treating another episode of breakthrough pain with ABSTRAL.

Dose Re-adjustment

If the response (analgesia or adverse reactions) to the titrated ABSTRAL dose markedly changes, an adjustment of dose may be necessary to ensure that an appropriate dose is maintained.

If more than four episodes of breakthrough pain are experienced per day, re-evaluate the dose of the long-acting opioid used for persistent underlying cancer pain. If the long-acting opioid or dose of long-acting opioid is changed, re-evaluate and re-titrate the ABSTRAL dose as necessary to ensure the patient is on an appropriate dose.

Limit the use of ABSTRAL to treat four or fewer episodes of breakthrough pain per day.

It is imperative that any dose re-titration is monitored carefully by a healthcare professional.

Administration of ABSTRAL

Place ABSTRAL tablets on the floor of the mouth directly under the tongue immediately after removal from the blister unit. Do not chew, suck, or swallow ABSTRAL tablets. Allow ABSTRAL tablets to completely dissolve in the sublingual cavity. Advise patients not to eat or drink anything until the tablet is completely dissolved.

In patients who have a dry mouth, water may be used to moisten the buccal mucosa before taking ABSTRAL.

Discontinuation of Therapy

For patients no longer requiring opioid therapy, consider discontinuing ABSTRAL along with a gradual downward titration of other opioids to minimize possible withdrawal effects.

In patients who continue to take their chronic opioid therapy for persistent pain but no longer require treatment for breakthrough pain, ABSTRAL therapy can usually be discontinued immediately.


Dosage Forms And Strengths

ABSTRAL is formulated as a sublingual tablet and is available in six strengths, distinguishable by the shape of the tablet and by de- bossing on the tablet surface. All tablets are white:

100 microgram tablet is a round tablet marked with the number “1”
200 microgram tablet is an oval-shaped tablet marked with the number “2”
300 microgram tablet is a triangle-shaped tablet marked with the number “3”
400 microgram tablet is a diamond-shaped tablet marked with the number “4”
600 microgram tablet is a “D”-shaped tablet marked with the number “6”
800 microgram tablet is a capsule-shaped tablet marked with the number “8”

[see Storage and Handling].

Storage And Handling

ABSTRAL is supplied in individually sealed child-resistant blister packages contained in a cardboard outer carton, in pack sizes of 12 (100 mcg, 200 mcg, 300 mcg and 400 mcg strengths) or 32 (all strengths) tablets. The packaging is color-coded for each ABSTRAL tablet strength.

The amount of fentanyl contained in ABSTRAL can be fatal to a child, individual for whom it is not prescribed or non-opioid tolerant adult. Patients and their caregivers must be instructed to keep ABSTRAL out of the reach of children [see BOXED WARNING - WARNINGS: Potential For Abuse and Importance Of Proper Patient Selection and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, and PATIENT INFORMATION].

Store at 20-25°C (68-77°F); excursions permitted between 15-30°C (59-86°F) [see USP Controlled Room Temperature]. Protect from moisture.

Disposal of ABSTRAL

Patients and their household members must be advised to dispose of any tablets remaining from a prescription as soon as they are no longer needed. Instructions are included in Patient Counseling Information and in the Medication Guide.

To dispose of any unused ABSTRAL tablets, remove them from the blister cards and flush down the toilet. Do not dispose of the ABSTRAL blister cards or cartons down the toilet.

If additional assistance is required, call Galena Biopharma, Inc. at 1-888-227-8725.

How Supplied

ABSTRAL is supplied in six dosage strengths. Tablets are supplied in child-resistant, protective blister cards with peelable foil. Each blister card contains 4 tablets, in pack sizes of 12 (100 mcg, 200 mcg, 300 mcg and 400 mcg strengths) or 32 (all strengths) tablets. Each tablet is white in color, with the strength distinguishable by the shape of the dosage unit and by de-bossing on the tablet surface:

Dosage Strength (fentanyl base) Tablet Shape Tablet Markings Carton/ Blister Package Color Pack size NDC Number
100 mcg Round “1” Light blue 12 32 57881-331-12 57881-331-32
200 mcg Oval “2” Dark orange 12 32 57881-332-12 57881-332-32
300 mcg Triangle “3” Brown 1232 57881-333-12 57881-333-32
400 mcg Diamond “4” Violet 1232 57881-334-12 57881-334-32
600 mcg “D” “6” Turquoise 32 57881-336-32
800 mcg Capsule “8” Indigo 32 57881-338-32

Note: Colors and shapes are a secondary aid in product identification. Please be sure to confirm the printed dosage before dispensing.

Manufactured by: Pharmaceutics International, Inc., Hunt Valley, MD 21031. Manufactured for: Galena Biopharma, Inc. Lake Oswego, OR 97034. Issued: July 2013

Last reviewed on RxList: 8/7/2013
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.


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