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Neuromodulation. 2015 Jul;18(5):414-20. doi: 10.1111/ner.12274. Epub 2015 Feb 24.

Intrathecal Pharmacology Update: Novel Dosing Strategy for Intrathecal Monotherapy Ziconotide on Efficacy and Sustainability.

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Center for Pain Relief, Teays Valley, WV, USA.
Center for Pain Relief, Charleston, WV, USA.



Intrathecal drug delivery is a well-defined strategy to treat malignant and nonmalignant pain. Ziconotide is a well-studied intrathecal medicine option that has many attractive qualities, as it is non-granulomagenic, overdose or underdose is not associated with cardiopulmonary compromise or death, and is a non-opoid analgesic. However, it has had slow adoption into pain care algorithms because it has been historically plagued with the connotation of having a narrow therapeutic window and a low sustainability rate. We introduce a novel dosing strategy to improve patient outcomes and sustainability.


Patients were identified as being an intrathecal candidate and trialed with ziconotide based on the current standard of care. Patient demographics, diagnosis, previous treatment failures, and pre-implant visual analog scale (VAS) scores were recorded. Once the trial was deemed successful, based on the dual bolusing strategy, the patient underwent device implantation. Consecutive patients were prospectively followed. Ziconotide was then initiated with a flex dosing strategy, weighted during nocturnal dosing. Outcome endpoints included: reduction in VAS, side effects, durability of therapy, and systemic opioid use prior to implant and at last visit were noted (calculated to daily morphine equivalents). Primary endpoint was tolerability of ziconotide at three months following new dosing strategy. No industry support or funding was obtained for this project.


All enrolled patients met the endpoint of the study of tolerability of ziconotide at three months. Numbers declined to 75% of patients at four months, and 70% of patients at six months. The discontinuing side-effects were most commonly urinary retention and visual hallucinations. There were no serious adverse events and no unresolved complications reported. Numerical rating scale (NRS) decreased on average from 9.06 to 1.8. Opioid reduction in morphine equivalents averaged 91.5%


The efficacy and tolerability of monotherapy ziconotide may be improved by using a weighted bolus flex dosing strategy as compared with slow continuous infusions.


We present a novel strategy to deliver ziconotide using a unique continuous infusion flex dosing strategy. Further randomized, prospective, higher-powered studies are needed to critically evaluate the conclusions suggested by this limited prospective case series.


Chronic pain; intraspinal drug delivery; intrathecal pump; intrathecal therapy; ziconotide

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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