Background: There is a need for newer therapies for chronic painful diabetic neuropathy as the existing drugs have their own limitations. Clinical trials on low-dose naltrexone (1-5 mg/d) showed efficacy and safety in certain chronic painful conditions, but not in painful diabetic neuropathy. Hence the present study was planned.
Methods: Sixty-seven participants with painful diabetic neuropathy were randomized to receive either 2 mg naltrexone or 10 mg amitriptyline daily following a 2-week run-in period. The participants were followed up every 2 weeks for a total of 6 weeks. Up-titration was done (to 4 mg naltrexone or 25/50 mg amitriptyline) if the pain reduction was less than 20% on the visual analog scale (VAS) during the next follow-up visit. Efficacy was assessed using the change in VAS score at the end of 6 weeks from baseline. Safety was evaluated at each follow-up visit. After 2 weeks of washout period, the participants were crossed over to receive the comparator drug for another 6 weeks with similar evaluations.
Results: The difference (confidence interval) in the change in VAS score between groups from baseline was 1.64 (-0.92 to 4.20) in per-protocol analysis and 1.5 (-1.11 to 4.13) in intention-to-treat analysis. Eight and fifty-two adverse events were reported in the naltrexone and amitriptyline groups, respectively (P < .001). The most common adverse events were mild diarrhea with naltrexone and somnolence with amitriptyline.
Conclusions: Low-dose naltrexone exhibited similar efficacy and a superior safety profile compared with amitriptyline in painful diabetic neuropathy.
Keywords: amitriptyline; clinical trial; diabetes; low-dose naltrexone; painful neuropathy.
© 2021 Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai JiaoTong University School of Medicine and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.