Introduction: The treatment of chronic low back pain (cLBP) often involves multimodal pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic strategies. There remain shortcomings with these tools with regards to both effect size and side effects.
Areas covered: In an effort to better address cLBP, anti-nerve growth factor (NGF) monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are nearing marketing approval. This class of medications has been primarily evaluated for osteoarthritis, but are being examined at higher doses for use in cLBP. We review the efficacy of this class in treating LBP as well as their potential side effects based on nine phase II or III published clinical trials. Five trials evaluated Tanezumab and four trials evaluated Fasinumab, with seven trials evaluating nonspecific LBP, one evaluating sciatica related cLBP, and one evaluating vertebral fracture related cLBP.
Expert opinion: The results of available clinical trials indicate modest effectiveness with regard to reduction of pain in the low back, and improved functionality, compared to placebo in keeping with the effect size of other pharmacologic treatment modalities. Rapidly progressive osteoarthritis was infrequently reported. However, the continued observation of this serious side effects warrants careful patient selection and balancing the risks and benefits of anti-NGF mAbs in treating cLBP.
Keywords: Chronic pain; fasinumab; low back pain; monoclonal antibodies; nerve growth factors; tanezumab.