Background: Continuous administration of a dopamine agonist could be used to treat patients with restless legs syndrome. Our aim was to investigate the efficacy of transdermal rotigotine in the treatment of idiopathic restless legs syndrome.
Methods: In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 458 patients with moderate-to-severe idiopathic restless legs syndrome (average baseline International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group severity rating scale [IRLS] sum score of 28.1) were randomly assigned to receive transdermal rotigotine 1 mg over 24 h (n=115), 2 mg over 24 h (n=112), or 3 mg over 24 h (n=114), or to receive placebo (n=117). Study medication was delivered via patches, applied once a day for 6 months. Randomisation was done with a computer-generated randomisation list, stratified by centre. Primary efficacy outcomes were absolute change from baseline to end of maintenance in IRLS sum score and in the clinical global impressions (CGI) item 1 score, assessed by analysis of covariance in the intention-to-treat population. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00136045.
Findings: Efficacy analyses were done on 112 patients in the 1 mg group, 109 in the 2 mg group, 112 in the 3 mg group, and 114 in the placebo group. Mean change in IRLS sum score from baseline at the end of the maintenance phase was -13.7 (SE 0.9) in the 1 mg group, -16.2 (0.9) in the 2 mg group, -16.8 (0.9) in the 3 mg group, and -8.6 (0.9) in the placebo group (p<0.0001 for treatment difference vs placebo with each dose). Mean change in CGI item 1 score from baseline at the end of the maintenance phase was -2.09 (0.14) in the 1 mg group, -2.41 (0.14) in the 2 mg group, -2.55 (0.14) in the 3 mg group, and -1.34 (0.14) in the placebo group (p<0.0001 for treatment difference vs placebo with each dose). Skin reactions, mostly mild or moderate, were seen in 145 (43%) of 341 patients who received rotigotine and in two (2%) of 117 who received placebo. Ten patients had serious adverse event that were deemed to be related to rotigotine: elevation of liver enzymes (one patient), worsening of tinnitus (one patient), non-response to anticoagulation (one patient), electrocardiogram changes (one patient), and application-site reactions (six patients). No admissions to hospital were needed for the application-site reactions, and they all resolved within a short time of patch removal without any other therapeutic intervention. The rate of typical dopaminergic side-effects in patients who received rotigotine was low; no signs of augmentation were noted.
Interpretation: 24 h transdermal delivery of low-dose rotigotine could be used to relieve the night-time and daytime symptoms of restless legs syndrome.
Funding: Schwarz Biosciences.