Gabapentin vs. amitriptyline in painful diabetic neuropathy: an open-label pilot study

C Dallocchio, C Buffa, P Mazzarello, S Chiroli
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 2000, 20 (4): 280-5
The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy and tolerability of gabapentin and amitriptyline monotherapy in painful diabetic neuropathy. This was a 12-week, open-label, prospective, randomized trial. Twenty-five type-II diabetic patients with pain attributed to diabetic neuropathy and a minimum score of 2 on a pain intensity scale ranging from 0 (no pain) to 4 (excruciating pain) were randomized to receive either gabapentin, titrated from 1,200 mg/day to a maximum of 2,400 mg/day, or amitriptyline, titrated from 30 mg/day to a maximum of 90 mg/day. Both drugs were titrated over a 4-week period and maintained at the maximum tolerated dose for 8 weeks. The main outcome measures were weekly pain intensity and paresthesia intensity, measured on two categorical scales. Thirteen patients received gabapentin and 12 received amitriptyline. All 25 patients completed the trial. Gabapentin produced greater pain reductions than amitriptyline (mean final scores were 1.9 vs. 1.3 points below baseline scores; P = 0.026). Decreases in paresthesia scores also were in favor of gabapentin (1.8 vs. 0.9 points; P = 0. 004). Adverse events were more frequent in the amitriptyline group than in the gabapentin group: they were reported by 11/12 (92%) and 4/13 (31%) of patients, respectively (P = 0.003). Side effects were the main limiting factor preventing dose escalation. Gabapentin produced greater improvements than amitriptyline in pain and paresthesia associated with diabetic neuropathy. Additionally, gabapentin was better tolerated than amitriptyline. Further controlled trials are needed to confirm these preliminary results.

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