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Derry S, Bell RF, Straube S, et al. Pregabalin for neuropathic pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 Jan 23;1:CD007076. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007076.pub3. (Systematic review)
Abstract

BACKGROUND: This review updates part of an earlier Cochrane Review titled "Pregabalin for acute and chronic pain in adults", and considers only neuropathic pain (pain from damage to nervous tissue). Antiepileptic drugs have long been used in pain management. Pregabalin is an antiepileptic drug used in management of chronic pain conditions.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the analgesic efficacy and adverse effects of pregabalin for chronic neuropathic pain in adults.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and Embase for randomised controlled trials from January 2009 to April 2018, online clinical trials registries, and reference lists.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised, double-blind trials of two weeks' duration or longer, comparing pregabalin (any route of administration) with placebo or another active treatment for neuropathic pain, with participant-reported pain assessment.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality and biases. Primary outcomes were: at least 30% pain intensity reduction over baseline; much or very much improved on the Patient Global Impression of Change (PGIC) Scale (moderate benefit); at least 50% pain intensity reduction; or very much improved on PGIC (substantial benefit). We calculated risk ratio (RR) and number needed to treat for an additional beneficial (NNTB) or harmful outcome (NNTH). We assessed the quality of the evidence using GRADE.

MAIN RESULTS: We included 45 studies lasting 2 to 16 weeks, with 11,906 participants - 68% from 31 new studies. Oral pregabalin doses of 150 mg, 300 mg, and 600 mg daily were compared with placebo. Postherpetic neuralgia, painful diabetic neuropathy, and mixed neuropathic pain predominated (85% of participants). High risk of bias was due mainly to small study size (nine studies), but many studies had unclear risk of bias, mainly due to incomplete outcome data, size, and allocation concealment.Postherpetic neuralgia: More participants had at least 30% pain intensity reduction with pregabalin 300 mg than with placebo (50% vs 25%; RR 2.1 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.6 to 2.6); NNTB 3.9 (3.0 to 5.6); 3 studies, 589 participants, moderate-quality evidence), and more had at least 50% pain intensity reduction (32% vs 13%; RR 2.5 (95% CI 1.9 to 3.4); NNTB 5.3 (3.9 to 8.1); 4 studies, 713 participants, moderate-quality evidence). More participants had at least 30% pain intensity reduction with pregabalin 600 mg than with placebo (62% vs 24%; RR 2.5 (95% CI 2.0 to 3.2); NNTB 2.7 (2.2 to 3.7); 3 studies, 537 participants, moderate-quality evidence), and more had at least 50% pain intensity reduction (41% vs 15%; RR 2.7 (95% CI 2.0 to 3.5); NNTB 3.9 (3.1 to 5.5); 4 studies, 732 participants, moderate-quality evidence). Somnolence and dizziness were more common with pregabalin than with placebo (moderate-quality evidence): somnolence 300 mg 16% versus 5.5%, 600 mg 25% versus 5.8%; dizziness 300 mg 29% versus 8.1%, 600 mg 35% versus 8.8%.Painful diabetic neuropathy: More participants had at least 30% pain intensity reduction with pregabalin 300 mg than with placebo (47% vs 42%; RR 1.1 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.2); NNTB 22 (12 to 200); 8 studies, 2320 participants, moderate-quality evidence), more had at least 50% pain intensity reduction (31% vs 24%; RR 1.3 (95% CI 1.2 to 1.5); NNTB 22 (12 to 200); 11 studies, 2931 participants, moderate-quality evidence), and more had PGIC much or very much improved (51% vs 30%; RR 1.8 (95% CI 1.5 to 2.0); NNTB 4.9 (3.8 to 6.9); 5 studies, 1050 participants, moderate-quality evidence). More participants had at least 30% pain intensity reduction with pregabalin 600 mg than with placebo (63% vs 52%; RR 1.2 (95% CI 1.04 to 1.4); NNTB 9.6 (5.5 to 41); 2 studies, 611 participants, low-quality evidence), and more had at least 50% pain intensity reduction (41% vs 28%; RR 1.4 (95% CI 1.2 to 1.7); NNTB 7.8 (5.4 to 14); 5 studies, 1015 participants, low-quality evidence). Somnolence and dizziness were more common with pregabalin than with placebo (moderate-quality evidence): somnolence 300 mg 11% versus 3.1%, 600 mg 15% versus 4.5%; dizziness 300 mg 13% versus 3.8%, 600 mg 22% versus 4.4%.Mixed or unclassified post-traumatic neuropathic pain: More participants had at least 30% pain intensity reduction with pregabalin 600 mg than with placebo (48% vs 36%; RR 1.2 (1.1 to 1.4); NNTB 8.2 (5.7 to 15); 4 studies, 1367 participants, low-quality evidence), and more had at least 50% pain intensity reduction (34% vs 20%; RR 1.5 (1.2 to 1.9); NNTB 7.2 (5.4 to 11); 4 studies, 1367 participants, moderate-quality evidence). Somnolence (12% vs 3.9%) and dizziness (23% vs 6.2%) were more common with pregabalin.Central neuropathic pain: More participants had at least 30% pain intensity reduction with pregabalin 600 mg than with placebo (44% vs 28%; RR 1.6 (1.3 to 2.0); NNTB 5.9 (4.1 to 11); 3 studies, 562 participants, low-quality evidence) and at least 50% pain intensity reduction (26% vs 15%; RR 1.7 (1.2 to 2.3); NNTB 9.8 (6.0 to 28); 3 studies, 562 participants, low-quality evidence). Somnolence (32% vs 11%) and dizziness (23% vs 8.6%) were more common with pregabalin.Other neuropathic pain conditions: Studies show no evidence of benefit for 600 mg pregabalin in HIV neuropathy (2 studies, 674 participants, moderate-quality evidence) and limited evidence of benefit in neuropathic back pain or sciatica, neuropathic cancer pain, or polyneuropathy.Serious adverse events, all conditions: Serious adverse events were no more common with placebo than with pregabalin 300 mg (3.1% vs 2.6%; RR 1.2 (95% CI 0.8 to 1.7); 17 studies, 4112 participants, high-quality evidence) or pregabalin 600 mg (3.4% vs 3.4%; RR 1.1 (95% CI 0.8 to 1.5); 16 studies, 3995 participants, high-quality evidence).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Evidence shows efficacy of pregabalin in postherpetic neuralgia, painful diabetic neuralgia, and mixed or unclassified post-traumatic neuropathic pain, and absence of efficacy in HIV neuropathy; evidence of efficacy in central neuropathic pain is inadequate. Some people will derive substantial benefit with pregabalin; more will have moderate benefit, but many will have no benefit or will discontinue treatment. There were no substantial changes since the 2009 review.

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Physician 5 / 7
Comments from MORE raters

Physician rater

Useful review reinforcing the current knowledge and practice of this difficult pain to treat. Lower doses of Pregabalin (75mg and 150 mg) were not included in this meta-analysis (but probably even more difficult to measure their effect, if any) and I think they should be abandoned considering the lack of serious side-effects of 300 mg and 600 mg day.
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