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Oxycodone Effective for Herpes Zoster Pain Relief

Last Updated: April 01, 2009.


Randomized trial finds drug superior to gabapentin and placebo in relieving pain

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In patients with herpes zoster, controlled-release oxycodone effectively relieves pain and is generally well-tolerated, according to a study published in the April issue of Pain.

WEDNESDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with herpes zoster, controlled-release oxycodone effectively relieves pain and is generally well-tolerated, according to a study published in the April issue of Pain.

Robert H. Dworkin, Ph.D., of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, N.Y., and colleagues randomly assigned 87 patients to receive seven days of treatment with famciclovir in combination with 28 days of treatment with either controlled-release oxycodone, gabapentin or placebo.

The researchers found that controlled-released oxycodone significantly reduced the mean worst pain during days 1 to 14 and that gabapentin was not significantly more effective than placebo. Although they found that controlled-release oxycodone was generally safe, significantly more oxycodone patients than placebo patients discontinued treatment (27.6 percent versus 6.9 percent), primarily because of constipation.

"If antiviral medication and simple analgesics do not provide adequate pain relief within days, controlled-release oxycodone is the evidence-based next step," states the author of an accompanying editorial. "Although pain usually resolves within some weeks, patients do appreciate good pain relief for their severe zoster-associated pain. Individual titration, routine laxative use, and close follow-up are needed to ensure the best compromise between the efficacy and the side effects. Further study is needed to clarify the efficacy of controlled-released oxycodone to prevent postherpetic neuralgia."

The study was supported by research grants from Novartis and Pfizer, and study medications and placebo were provided by Endo, Novartis, Pfizer and Purdue Pharma. Several authors have disclosed financial relationships with these companies.

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