Capsaicin “Chili Pepper” Patch Beats Lyrica for Peripheral Neuropathic Pain

A skin patch containing a synthetic version of capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, offers pain relief compared with Lyrica, but with faster pain relief, fewer side effects and greater treatment satisfaction, a new study concludes.

In a head-to-head study published in the European Journal of Pain, researchers compared capsaicin 8% patch (QUTENZA) with pregabalin capsules (Lyrica) in adults with peripheral neuropathic pain (PNP).

The study included 559 adults with moderate-to-severe PNP. Participants received either a single treatment with the capsaicin 8% patch or daily administration of an optimized dose of oral Lyrica.

Fifty-five percent (55%) of those using the capsaicin 8% patch achieved 30% or greater pain relief, compared to 54% of those using pregabalin, showing “non-inferior” pain relief.

But, what differed was how the patch offered faster pain relief.  Those taking the patch achieved pain relief in 7.5 days compared to 36 days with pregabalin.

“This means that there is now another treatment option for people with peripheral neuropathic pain, especially those patients who are very sensitive to the side effects of systemic medication or for those who do not wish to take tablets every day,” said Professor Maija Haanpää, Principal Study Investigator, Department of Neurosurgery, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki.

“Some patients may still receive inadequate pain management and have to balance effective pain relief and the side effects of their medication. The capsaicin 8% patch is applied topically and hence has shown less systemic side effects than seen with oral medications. There is a need to tailor treatment to individual patients and these data show that the capsaicin 8% patch is an efficacious agent to manage patients with peripheral neuropathic pain,” commented Dr. Andreas Karas, Senior Director, Medical Affairs, Astellas Pharma EMEA.

Peripheral neuropathic pain is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside the spinal cord. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially at night), and loss of reflexes.

Lyrica is approved by the FDA to treat chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia, epilepsy, shingles, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, and spinal cord injury.

The Qutenza (capsaicin) 8% patch is FDA approved to treat long-term pain associated with shingles attacks.

Leave a Comment