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A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of neramexane in patients with moderate to severe subjective tinnitus

Markus Suckfüll1*, Michael Althaus2, Barbara Ellers-Lenz2, Alexander Gebauer2, Roman Görtelmeyer2, Pawel J Jastreboff3, Hans J Moebius2, Tanja Rosenberg2, Hermann Russ2, Yvonne Wirth2 and Hagen Krueger2

Author Affiliations

1 University of Munich, Department of Oto-Rhino-Laryngolgy, Marchioninistraße 15, 81377 Munich, Germany

2 Merz Pharmaceuticals, Frankfurt, Germany

3 Emory University, Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Center Atlanta, USA

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BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders 2011, 11:1  doi:10.1186/1472-6815-11-1

Published: 11 January 2011



Neramexane is a new substance that exhibits antagonistic properties at α9α10 cholinergic nicotinic receptors and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors, suggesting potential efficacy in the treatment of tinnitus.


A total of 431 outpatients with moderate to severe subjective tinnitus (onset 3-18 months before screening) were assigned randomly to receive either placebo or neramexane mesylate (25 mg/day, 50 mg/day and 75 mg/day) for 16 weeks, with assessment at 4-week intervals. The primary (intention-to-treat) efficacy analysis was based on the change from baseline in Week 16 in the total score of the adapted German short version of the validated Tinnitus Handicap Inventory questionnaire (THI-12).


Compared with placebo, the largest improvement was achieved in the 50 mg/d neramexane group, followed by the 75 mg/d neramexane group. This treatment difference did not reach statistical significance at the pre-defined endpoint in Week 16 (p = 0.098 for 50 mg/d; p = 0.289 for 75 mg/d neramexane), but consistent numerical superiority of both neramexane groups compared with placebo was observed. Four weeks after the end of treatment, THI-12 scores in the 50 mg/d group were significantly better than those of the controls. Secondary efficacy variables supported this trend, with p values of < 0.05 for the 50 mg/d neramexane group associated with the functional-communicational subscores of the THI-12 and the assessments of tinnitus annoyance and tinnitus impact on life as measured on an 11-point Likert-like scale. No relevant changes were observed for puretone threshold, for tinnitus pitch and loudness match, or for minimum masking levels. The 25 mg/d neramexane group did not differ from placebo. Neramexane was generally well tolerated and had no relevant influence on laboratory values, electrocardiography and vital signs. Dizziness was the most common adverse event and showed a clear dose-dependence.


This study demonstrated the safety and tolerability of neramexane treatment in patients with moderate to severe tinnitus. The primary efficacy variable showed a trend towards improvement of tinnitus suffering in the medium- and high-dose neramexane groups. This finding is in line with consistent beneficial effects observed in secondary assessment variables. These results allow appropriate dose selection for further studies.

Trial Registration NCT00405886