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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Mar 2022 - 1 Apr 2022

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 Mar 26

Clin Rheumatol

Comparative efficacy of amitriptyline, duloxetine and pregabalin for treating fibromyalgia in adults: an overview with network meta-analysis.


Alberti F F, Becker M W, Blatt C R, Ziegelmann P K, da Silva Dal Pizzol T, Pilger D
Clin Rheumatol. 2022 Mar 26.
PMID: 35347488.


Treatment recommendations for fibromyalgia (FM) include a range of predominantly pharmacological treatment options designed to ensure the maintenance of symptoms and improvement in the quality of life of these patients. Our aim is to identify and compare the efficacy of amitriptyline (AMT), duloxetine (DLX), and pregabalin (PGB) for reducing pain intensity by 30% (R30%) and 50% (R50%) in adult patients with fibromyalgia. The review was conducted in the Medline/PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Embase databases up to February 2022. This study included systematic reviews (SR) of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) targeting adult patients over 18 years of age diagnosed with fibromyalgia according to the criteria of scientific societies, which include the basic clinical diagnosis characterized by the presence of pressure sensitivity in at least 11 of the 18 tender points, in addition to the presence of widespread musculoskeletal pain for a period longer than 3 months and a general assessment of the patient's health status. Pregnant women and children or adolescents were excluded. The Rob 2.0 tool from the Cochrane Collaboration was used to assess the risk of bias in RCTs. The quality of evidence of the reviews included was assessed according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation-GRADE. A meta-analysis for the evidence network was performed using the Bayesian approach, which allows simultaneous comparison of all treatment options (medication and dose). The different treatments were ranked according to the response rate according to the surface under the curve (SUCRA), which was expressed as a percentage. The results were presented in tables and figures. The protocol with the detailed methods was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42021229264). Eight systematic reviews were identified, and, from these, 15 clinical trials comparing AMT (n = 273), DLX (n = 2595), and PGB (n = 3,506) against placebo were selected. For the outcome R30%, PGB 450 mg was superior to DLX 30 mg and PGB 150 mg, while DLX 20 mg and 30 mg were not superior to placebo. For the outcome R50%, AMT 25 mg was superior to all other alternatives evaluated. The calculation of the SUCRA indicated that PGB 450 mg was the best performance option for R30% and AMT 25 mg for R50%. PGB 150 mg was the drug with the worst performance in the two outcomes evaluated. The drugs evaluated showed benefits for pain reduction in patients with fibromyalgia. In the absence of direct comparison studies, indirect comparison meta-analyses are an important resource for assisting in clinical decision-making. Our data only provide an indicator of the effectiveness of the three drugs evaluated, but as with other health conditions, tolerability and safety are important for the decision-making process and clinical management. In this regard, we encourage caution in interpreting our data.