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Drugs. 2018 Sep;78(14):1433-1442. doi: 10.1007/s40265-018-0964-9.

Current and Innovative Pharmacological Options to Treat Typical and Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia.

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Department of Human Neuroscience, Sapienza University, viale Università 30, 00185, Rome, Italy.
Department of Human Neuroscience, Sapienza University, viale Università 30, 00185, Rome, Italy.


Trigeminal neuralgia is a representative neuropathic facial pain condition, characterised by unilateral paroxysmal pain in the distribution territory of one or more divisions of the trigeminal nerve, triggered by innocuous stimuli. A subgroup of patients with trigeminal neuralgia [TN (previously defined as atypical TN)] also suffer from concomitant continuous pain, i.e. a background pain between the paroxysmal attacks. The aim of this review is to provide current, evidence-based, knowledge about the pharmacological treatment of typical and atypical TN, with a specific focus on drugs in development. We searched for relevant papers within PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and the Clinical Trials database (, taking into account publications up to February 2018. Two authors independently selected studies for inclusions, data extraction, and bias assessment. Carbamazepine and oxcarbazepine are the first-choice drugs for paroxysmal pain. When sodium channel blockers cannot reach full dosage because of side effects, an add-on treatment with lamotrigine or baclofen should be considered. In patients with atypical TN, both gabapentin and antidepressants are expected to be efficacious and should be tried as an add-on to oxcarbazepine or carbamazepine. Although carbamazepine and oxcarbazepine are effective in virtually the totality of patients, they are responsible for side effects causing withdrawal from treatment in an important percentage of cases. A new, better tolerated, Nav1.7 selective state-dependent, sodium channel blocker (vixotrigine) is under development. Future trials testing the effect of combination therapy in patients with TN are needed, especially in patients with concomitant continuous pain and in TN secondary to multiple sclerosis.

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