Shingles-related chronic pain – known as neuropathic pain – caused by nerve damage can be treated with a new drug. This drug may also be able to combat neuropathic pain experienced in HIV, diabetes, nerve injury, and cancer chemotherapy. The new drug not only targets mechanisms omitted by the already existing drugs but its side effects too, often are unpleasant or disabling.
The study involved 183 patients with post-herpetic neuralgia from six countries. The new drug – EMA401 – was found to reduce pain without any serious side effects.
Lead author Andrew Rice said, “Conventional painkillers don’t tend to help people with severe chronic neuropathic pain and most available treatments have modest efficacy and/or are limited by side effects. We are therefore keen to find new ways of providing these people with some relief. A positive trial like this in such a challenging condition as post-herpetic neuralgia, for a drug that acts in a new way, is unusual and very exciting. We hope that the new drug will ultimately offer hope for patients who aren’t helped by current treatments.”
The study than compared EMA401 with a placebo, and 58 percent of the participants taking the drug found it to be effective for pain reduction by at least 30 percent.
Professor Rice added, “We are looking forward to seeing how EMA401 performs in a larger trial in people with post-herpetic neuralgia, where we will explore higher doses, and in trials where we will analyze its efficacy in other chronic pain conditions. Identifying the characteristics of the patients who do get good pain relief from EMA401 will also be an important avenue for research.”
Tom McCarthy, CEO of Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, said, “There is a clear need for new treatments that bring patients pain relief with fewer side effects. In addition to post-herpetic neuralgia, we see broad potential for EMA401 to treat a range of chronic painful conditions such as pain due to osteoarthritis and diabetes. We look forward to delivering on the further development of EMA401.”
Shingles pain prevention and treatment
Shingles can be a painful condition, and in order to prevent or manage pain here are some effective tips.
- Keep the rash as dry and clean as possible to help reduce the risk of infection as it can cause greater pain.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Don’t use rub-on antibiotic creams or adhesive dressings as they can slow down healing.
- If you use a dressing ensure it is non-adherent.
- Apply calamine lotion.
- Apply cool compresses.
- Only use compresses for 20 minutes a day to stop blisters from oozing.
- Don’t share towels, flannels, or cloths with others.
Treatment also involves using antiviral drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, antidepressants that can work to reduce pain, anticonvulsants, and ultimately staying away from others as much as you can to avoid the infection transmission.