There has been an increase in the number of chronic pain clinical trials in which the treatments being evaluated did not differ significantly from placebo in the primary efficacy analyses despite previous research suggesting that efficacy could be expected. These findings could reflect a true lack of efficacy or methodological and other aspects of these trials that compromise the demonstration of efficacy. There is substantial variability among chronic pain clinical trials with respect to important research design considerations, and identifying and addressing any methodological weaknesses would enhance the likelihood of demonstrating the analgesic effects of new interventions. An IMMPACT consensus meeting was therefore convened to identify the critical research design considerations for confirmatory chronic pain trials and to make recommendations for their conduct. We present recommendations for the major components of confirmatory chronic pain clinical trials, including participant selection, trial phases and duration, treatment groups and dosing regimens, and types of trials. Increased attention to and research on the methodological aspects of confirmatory chronic pain clinical trials has the potential to enhance their assay sensitivity and ultimately provide more meaningful evaluations of treatments for chronic pain.
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