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Drugs. 1998 Oct;56(4):691-707.

Mexiletine. A review of its therapeutic use in painful diabetic neuropathy.

Author information

1
Adis International Limited, Auckland, New Zealand. demail@adis.co.nz

Abstract

Mexiletine is an orally active local anaesthetic agent which is structurally related to lidocaine (lignocaine) and has been used for alleviating neuropathic pain of various origins. Mexiletine has been evaluated in several randomised, placebo-controlled trials in patients with painful diabetic neuropathy. The drug decreased mean visual analogue scale (VAS) pain ratings in all studies that used this measure, although in only 2 studies was this effect significantly greater than the often substantial responses seen with placebo. The clinical significance of these decreases is not clear. Statistically significant (vs placebo) reductions in VAS pain ratings were observed in 16 patients receiving mexiletine 10 mg/kg/day for 10 weeks in 1 study and in nocturnal (but not diurnal) pain in 31 patients receiving mexiletine 675 mg/day for 3 weeks in another. Retrospective analysis of another study revealed that mexiletine recipients (225 to 675 mg/day) who described their pain as stabbing, burning or formication on the pain-rating-index-total instrument of the McGill Pain Questionnaire, experienced statistically significant reductions in VAS pain scores after 5 weeks, compared with placebo recipients. Mexiletine generally did not have a significant influence on the quality of sleep in patients with diabetic neuropathy. In Japanese patients, statistically significant reductions in subjective pain ratings were achieved with mexiletine 300 mg/day in 1 study and with 450 mg/day in a further study. In controlled trials, the frequency of adverse events in patients receiving mexiletine for painful diabetic neuropathy ranged from 13.5 to 50%. Gastrointestinal complaints, of which nausea was the most frequent, were the most common adverse events in mexiletine recipients. Central nervous system complaints were uncommon, but included: sleep disturbance, headache, shakiness, dizziness and tiredness. Serious cardiac arrhythmias have not been reported in patients receiving mexiletine for painful diabetic neuropathy; however, transient tachycardia and palpitations have been reported. There are significant differences in the metabolism of mexiletine between people who have cytochrome P450 2D6 [CYP2D6; extensive metabolisers (EMs)] and those who lack this isoenzyme [poor metabolisers (PMs)]. EMs, but not PMs, are susceptible to drug interactions between mexiletine and drugs that inhibit CYP2D6 (e.g. quinidine). Moreover, mexiletine inhibits CYP2D6-mediated metabolism of metoprolol and cytochrome P450 1A2-mediated metabolism of theophylline. Phenytoin and rifampicin (rifampin) induce the metabolism of mexiletine. Clearance of mexiletine is impaired in patients with hepatic, but not renal, dysfunction. Hence, dosage adjustments may be necessary in patients with liver disease.

CONCLUSIONS:

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are the agents of choice for painful diabetic neuropathy; however, they are ineffective in approximately 50% of patients and are generally not well tolerated. Mexiletine is an alternative agent for the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy in patients who have not had a satisfactory response to, or cannot tolerate, TCAs and/or other drugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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