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Pain. 2012 Oct;153(10):2073-82. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2012.06.024. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

An enriched-enrolment, randomized withdrawal, flexible-dose, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel assignment efficacy study of nabilone as adjuvant in the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain.

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  • 1The Department of Clinical Neurosciences, the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and the University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. corytoth@shaw.ca


Cannabinoids are emerging as potential options for neuropathic pain treatment. This study evaluated an oral cannabinoid, nabilone, in the treatment of refractory human diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain (DPN). We performed a single-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, flexible-dose study with an enriched enrollment randomized withdrawal design. DPN subjects with a pain score ≥ 4 (0-10 scale) continued regular pain medications and were administered single-blinded adjuvant nabilone for 4 weeks. Subjects achieving ≥ 30% pain relief (26/37) were then randomized and treated with either flexible-dose nabilone 1-4 mg/day (n=13) or placebo (n=13) in a further 5-week double-blind treatment period, with 30% (11/37) of subjects deemed run-in-phase nabilone nonresponders. For nabilone run-in-phase responders, there was an improvement in the change in mean end-point neuropathic pain vs placebo (mean treatment reduction of 1.27; 95% confidence interval 2.29-0.25, P=0.02), with an average nabilone dose at end point of 2.9 ± 1.1mg/day, and improvements from baseline for the anxiety subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the Medical Outcomes Study sleep scale problems index, and the European Quality of Life-5-Domains index score (each P<0.05). Nabilone run-in-phase responders reported greater global end-point improvement with nabilone than with placebo (100% vs 31%; P<0.05). Medication-related confusion led to discontinuation in 2/37 subjects during single-blind nabilone treatment. Potential unmasking occurred in 62% of both groups. Flexible-dose nabilone 1-4 mg/day was effective in relieving DPN symptoms, improving disturbed sleep, quality of life, and overall patient status. Nabilone was well tolerated and successful as adjuvant in patients with DPN.

Copyright © 2012 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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