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Papers of the Week

Papers: 5 Mar 2022 - 11 Mar 2022

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 Mar-Apr

Pain Rep



Nonopioid drug combinations for cancer pain: a systematic review.


Sohi G, Lao N, Caraceni A, Moulin DE, Zimmermann C, Herx L, Gilron I
Pain Rep. 2022 Mar-Apr; 7(2):e995.
PMID: 35261931.


Pain is highly prevalent in patients with cancer-nearly 40% report moderate-severe pain, which is commonly treated with opioids. Increasing cancer survivorship, opioid epidemics in some regions of the world, and limited opioid access in other regions have focused attention on nonopioid treatments. Given the limitations of monotherapy, combining nonopioids-such as antiepileptics and antidepressants-have shown promise in noncancer pain. This review seeks to evaluate efficacy of nonopioid combinations for cancer-related pain. Systematic searches of PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane CENTRAL were conducted for double-blind, randomized, controlled trials comparing a nonopioid combination with at least one of its components and/or placebo. This search yielded 4 randomized controlled trials, published between 1998 and 2019 involving studies of (1) imipramine + diclofenac; (2) mitoxantrone + prednisone + clodronate; (3) pentoxifylline + tocopherol + clodronate; and (4) duloxetine + pregabalin + opioid. In the first 3 of these trials, trends favouring combination efficacy failed to reach statistical significance. However, in the fourth trial, duloxetine + pregabalin + opioid was superior to pregabalin + opioid. This review illustrates recognition for the need to evaluate nonopioid drug combinations in cancer pain, although few trials have been published to date. Given the growing practice of prescribing more than 1 nonopioid for cancer pain and the need to expand the evidence base for rational combination therapy, more high-quality trials in this area are needed.