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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Pregabalin, the lidocaine plaster and duloxetine in patients with refractory neuropathic pain: a systematic review

Melanie Plested1*, Sangeeta Budhia1 and Zahava Gabriel2

Author Affiliations

1 Heron Evidence Development Ltd, Butterfield Technology Park, Luton, UK

2 Pfizer Ltd, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Walton-On-The-Hill, Surrey, UK

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BMC Neurology 2010, 10:116  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-10-116

Published: 19 November 2010

Abstract

Background

Patients frequently fail to receive adequate pain relief from, or are intolerant of, first-line therapies prescribed for neuropathic pain (NeP). This refractory chronic pain causes psychological distress and impacts patient quality of life. Published literature for treatment in refractory patients is sparse and often published as conference abstracts only. The aim of this study was to identify published data for three pharmacological treatments: pregabalin, lidocaine plaster, and duloxetine, which are typically used at 2nd line or later in UK patients with neuropathic pain.

Methods

A systematic review of the literature databases MEDLINE, EMBASE and CCTR was carried out and supplemented with extensive conference and grey literature searching. Studies of any design (except single patient case studies) that enrolled adult patients with refractory NeP were included in the review and qualitatively assessed.

Results

Seventeen studies were included in the review: nine of pregabalin, seven of the lidocaine plaster, and one of duloxetine. No head-to-head studies of these treatments were identified. Only six studies included treatments within UK licensed indications and dose ranges. Reported efficacy outcomes were not consistent between studies. Pain scores were most commonly assessed in studies including pregabalin; trials of pregabalin and the lidocaine plaster reported the proportion of responders. Significant improvements in the total, sensory and affective scores of the Short-form McGill Pain Questionnaire, and in function interference, sleep interference and pain associated distress, were associated with pregabalin treatment; limited or no quality of life data were available for the other two interventions. Limitations to the review are the small number of included studies, which are generally small, of poor quality and heterogeneous in patient population and study design.

Conclusions

Little evidence is available relevant to the treatment of refractory neuropathic pain despite the clinical need. There is a notable lack of high-quality comparative studies. It is evident that there is a need for future, high quality trials, particularly "gold-standard" RCTs in this refractory patient population.