More than 20 million people in the U.S. suffer neuropathic pain.
At least 25% of those cases are classified as unexplained and considered cryptogenic sensory polyneuropathy (CSPN). There is no information to guide a physician’s drug choices to treat CSPN.
A recent study from the University of Missouri compared four drugs in a large group of patients with neuropathic pain to determine which drugs are most useful for this condition.
They found the most effective drug for the health condition.
In the study, the team examined 402 patients with diagnosed CSPN who were 30 years or older and reported a pain score of four or greater on a 10-point scale.
Participants were prescribed one of four medications commonly used to treat CSPN: nortriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant; duloxetine, a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor; pregabalin, an anti-seizure drug; or mexiletine, an anti-arrhythmic medication.
Patients took the prescribed treatment for 12 weeks and were evaluated at four, eight, and 12 weeks.
The team found nortriptyline had the highest efficacious percentage (25%), and the second-lowest quit rate (38%), giving it the highest level of overall utility.
Duloxetine had the second-highest efficacious rate (23%), and lowest drop-out rate (37%). Pregbalin had the lowest efficacy rate (15%) and Mexiletene had the highest quit rate (58%).
The team says there was no clearly superior performing drug in the study. However, of the four medications, nortriptyline and duloxetine performed better when efficacy and dropouts were both considered.
Therefore, they recommend that either nortriptyline or duloxetine be considered before the other medications are tested.
There are other nonnarcotic drugs used to treat painful peripheral neuropathy, including gabapentin, venlafaxine and other sodium channel inhibitors.
The researchers say additional comparative effectiveness research studies can be performed on those drugs, so doctors can further build a library of data for the treatment of CSPN.
The study was published in JAMA Neurology and conducted by Richard Barohn et al.
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