Drug trials at Flinders bring relief

More than 20,000 Australian patients a year will benefit from the listing of a capsule to relieve chronic breathlessness.

Mayne Pharma’s Kapanol, a low-dose, sustained release morphine drug, went through clinical trials led by Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor David Currow and experts at the Palliative Care Clinical Studies Collaborative (PaCCSC) at Flinders University.

Kapanol gained TGA approval and is listed on the national Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme in addition to its use in relieving chronic severe disabling pain unresponsive to non-opioid analgesics.

Health Minister Greg Hunt says: “Kapanol helps with the relief of distressing chronic breathlessness in the palliative care of patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiac failure, malignancy or other causes.”

This listing is expected to benefit around 20,000 of these patients per year, many of whom are housebound and very limited in their day-to-day activities.

Professor David Currow says the use of Kapanol in severe chronic breathlessness can reduce this debilitating symptom in patients with advanced disease.

“The repurposing of low dose morphine for chronic breathlessness is a world first registration for this indication,” says Professor Currow, adding the PBS listing will make it more affordable treatment option.

The PaCCSC study has resulted in a series of papers, including the most recent ‘Controlled-release oxycodone versus placebo in the treatment of chronic breathlessness – a multi-site randomised placebo controlled trial’ October 2019 by Diana H Ferreira, Sandra Louw, Philip McCloud, Belinda Fazekas, Christine F McDonald, Meera Agar, Katherine Clark, Nikki McCaffrey, Magnus Ekström and David C Currow, has been published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (Elsevier) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2019.10.017

Kapanol (morphine sulfate pentahydrate) 10mg, 20mg, 50mg and 100mg capsules, modified release, are an opioid analgesic indicated for the relief of chronic pain unresponsive to non-narcotic analgesia. The capsules contain polymer-coated pellets which provide sustained-release of morphine sulfate after they are swallowed.

Adelaide-based Mayne Pharma has a 30-year track record of developing new oral drug delivery systems and these technologies have been successfully commercialised in numerous products that have been marketed around the world.

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College of Medicine and Public Health

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