Antiepileptic drugs in the treatment of neuropathic pain

Elon Eisenberg, Yaron River, Ala Shifrin, Norberto Krivoy
Drugs 2007, 67 (9): 1265-89
Antiepileptic drugs are an effective treatment for various forms of neuropathic pain of peripheral origin, although they rarely provide complete pain relief. Multiple multicentre randomised controlled trials have shown clear efficacy of gabapentin and pregabalin for postherpetic neuralgia and painful diabetic neuropathy. Theses drugs can be rapidly titrated and are well tolerated. Topiramate, lamotrigine, carbamazepine and oxcarbazepine are alternatives for the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy, but should be titrated slowly. Carbamazepine remains the drug of choice for trigeminal neuralgia; however, oxcarbazepine and lamotrigine are potential alternatives. There is an apparent need for large-scale randomised controlled trials on the efficacy of antiepileptic drugs in neuropathic pain in general, and in cancer-related neuropathic pain and neuropathic pain of central origin in particular. Trials with long-term follow-up are required to establish the long-term efficacy of antiepileptic drugs in neuropathic pain. There is only limited scientific evidence to support the idea that drug combinations are likely to be more efficacious and safer than each drug alone; further studies are warranted in this area.

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