Oral pharmacotherapeutics for the management of peripheral neuropathic pain conditions–a review of clinical trials


Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center


Introduction: Epidemiological studies have shown that 6.9-10% of people suffer from neuropathic pain, a complex painful condition which is often undertreated. Data regarding the effectiveness of treatment options for patients with neuropathic pain is inconsistent, and there is no single treatment option that shows cost-effectiveness across studies.

Areas covered: In this narrative review, the authors present the results of different prospective, randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses assessing the effects of different oral medications in the management of various peripheral neuropathic pain conditions. The authors discuss the effectiveness of commonly used oral medications such as voltage-gated calcium channels antagonists, voltage-gated sodium channel antagonists, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, NMDA antagonists, and medications with other mechanisms of action.

Expert opinion: Most of the presented medications were more effective than placebo; however, when compared to each other, none of them were significantly superior. The heterogeneity of the studies looking into different oral neuropathic conditions has been the major issue that prevents us from making stronger recommendations. There are multiple reasons including high placebo responsiveness, improperly treated underlying comorbidities (particularly anxiety and depression), and inter-patient variability. Different sensory phenotypes should also be taken into consideration when designing future clinical trials for neuropathic pain.

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