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Chronic pain treatments more effective when taken together, new study shows

People suffering from chronic, debilitating pain caused by nerve damage or disease report better pain relief at lower doses of a combined drug treatment than from either drug administered individually, a new Queen's study funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) shows.

When given a combination of the anti-seizure drug gabapentin and the opioid morphine, patients with two different types of neuropathic pain experienced lower pain intensity than when they received either of the drugs individually. As well, significantly lower doses of gabapentin and morphine were required during combination treatment than during treatment with either drug alone.

"We now have the first clinical evidence that combining these drugs provides better pain relief, with comparable side effects," says lead researcher Dr. Ian Gilron, Director of Clinical Pain Research for Queen's Departments of Anesthesiology, and Pharmacology & Toxicology, and an anesthesiologist at Kingston General Hospital. "This new treatment approach has the potential to dramatically improve quality of life for people suffering from neuropathic pain, a condition that has puzzled health care workers for years because it is often experienced in areas of the body which appear uninjured."

Results of the study will be published in the March 31 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Also on the team from Queen's are Joan Bailey (Anesthesiology), Dongsheng Tu (Mathematics and Statistics), Ronald Holden (Psychology,) Robyn Houlden (Medicine); and from Dalhousie University's Departments of Medicine and Chemistry, Donald Weaver.

"This is exciting news for the health research community in Canada," says Dr. Rmi Quirion, Scientific Director of CIHR's Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. "It is a great achievement for Dr. Gilron and his team, but most importantly, it is a critical research finding for Canadians whose chronic pain may be eased by thi
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Contact: Nancy Dorrance
dorrance@post.queensu.ca
613-533-2869
Queen's University
31-Mar-2005


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