The researchers pooled together data from 106 clinical studies published between 2011 and 2015 examining the effectiveness of pharmacologic approaches to improving pain in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The analysis compared outcomes in patients taking 21 different medications, though the authors were unable to draw conclusions for any head-to-head drug comparisons due to insufficient evidence.
The researchers found moderate evidence to suggest that duloxetine and venlafaxine were more effective at reducing neuropathy-related pain than placebo. Tricyclic antidepressants, botulinum toxin, the opioids tramadol and tapentadol, and the anticonvulsants pregabalin and oxcarbazepine were also found to be more effective than placebo, but the evidence base for these medications was weak.
In contrast, the anticonvulsant gabapentin, mood stabilizer valproate, and capsaicin cream were all found to be no more effective than placebo; these findings run contrary to guidelines for treating diabetic peripheral neuropathy published by the American Academy of Neurology in 2011, which listed all three agents as probably effective.
“Our findings generally support the effectiveness of the three drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of pain in diabetic peripheral neuropathy: duloxetine, pregabalin, and tapentadol,” wrote Julie Waldfogel, Pharm.D., of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and her colleagues. “Additional studies evaluating longer term outcomes are needed to better inform clinical decision-making, patient choice, and clinical practice guidelines.”
To read more about treatment of patients with diabetes, see the Psychiatric News article “New Initiative Targets Psychosocial Issues Related to Diabetes.”