Pregabalin is the standard of care for peripheral neuropathic pain (PNP), but it can cause side effects that sometimes result in dose restrictions or discontinuation. The capsaicin patch is a potential alternative treatment, but it has never been directly compared with other treatments for PNP.
Now a head-to-head study has found that the capsaicin patch is as effective as pregabalin for treating PNP. After eight weeks, 282 patients receiving the capsaicin 8% patch were as likely to achieve a ≥30% decrease in pain score as 277 patients receiving an optimised dose of oral pregabalin.
Patients in the pregabalin group also experienced more systemic side effects, such as nausea and dizziness, while most side effects in the capsaicin group were related to the application site, the researchers report in the European Journal of Pain (online, 19 November 2015)