NEW YORK, Oct 28 (Reuters) Duloxetine appears to be a safe and effective treatment for diabetes-related pain caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system, according to a report in the journal Neurology.
This damage, also called diabetic peripheral neuropathy, occurs when the communication network that transmits information back and forth from the peripheral nerves to the central nervous system is damaged. This can result in a variety of symptoms including pain, numbness or tingling sensations.
Duloxetine, the active ingredient in Cymbalta, is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor that treats depression by increasing levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, and treats neuropathy by blocking pain signals to the brain.
To investigate how effective duloxetine is in treating pain from diabetic peripheral neuropathy, Dr Joachim Wernicke of Eli Lily and Company, Indianapolis, Indiana, evaluated 334 non-depressed patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain who were randomly assigned to 60 mg duloxetine once or twice daily, or placebo.
''A 50-per cent reduction in the 24-hour average pain response was achieved by 27 per cent of patients in the placebo-treated group,'' they report, compared with 43 per cent of patients in the once-day duloxetine group and 53 per cent in the twice-daily duloxetine group.
Treatment with duloxetine, at either frequency, also reduced pain rapidly. The benefits of the drug over placebo in reducing the 24-hour average pain severity score became apparent during the first week of treatment.
With the exception of overall increased sensitivity to pain, all secondary measures of pain, such as night pain and the severity of the worst pain, were significantly improved with duloxetine compared with placebo. The benefits with once- versus twice-daily duloxetine appeared to be comparable.
Duloxetine therapy had an acceptable safety profile with no association with any serious side effects. However, nausea, dizziness, constipation, fatigue, drowsiness, diarrhea, and increased sweating were significantly more common with the drug than with placebo.
The results support the use of once daily duloxetine for patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain, the authors conclude.
While the twice-daily dosing may raise the risk of side effects, it may provide additional benefits in some patients, they add.
REUTERS DKA VV0920