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Wednesday 01 December 1999

Efficacy and tolerability of tropisetron in primary fibromyalgia--a highly selective and competitive 5-HT3 receptor antagonist. German Fibromyalgia Study Group.

By: Farber L, Stratz T, Bruckle W, Spath M, Pongratz D, Lautenschlager J, Kotter I, Zoller B, Peter HH, Neeck G, Alten R, Muller W.

Scand J Rheumatol Suppl 2000;113:49-54

OBJECTIVE: Based on a potential role for serotonin receptors in fibromyalgia, we investigated the efficacy and tolerability of treatment with tropisetron, a highly selective, competitive inhibitor of the 5-HT3 receptor. METHODS: In this prospective, multicenter, double-blind, parallel-group, dose-finding study, 418 patients suffering from primary fibromyalgia (ACR criteria) were randomly assigned to receive either placebo, 5 mg, 10 mg or 15 mg tropisetron once daily, respectively. The duration of treatment was 10 days. The clinical response was measured by changes in pain-score, visual analog scale (VAS), and the number of painful tender-points. RESULTS: Treatment with 5 mg tropisetron resulted in a significantly higher response rate (39.2%) when compared with placebo (26.2%) (p=0.033). The absolute reduction in pain-score was -13.5% for 5 mg tropisetron, -13.0% for 10 mg tropisetron, and -6.3% for placebo (p<0.05). The effects of 15 mg tropisetron were similar to placebo, thus suggesting a bell-shaped dose-response curve. Compared with placebo, treatment with 5 mg tropisetron led to a significant improvement (p<0.05) in VAS, while a clear trend in terms of clinical benefit was seen with 10 mg tropisetron. The number of painful tender-points was also reduced significantly (p=0.002) in the 5 mg tropisetron group. Of interest, during the 12-month follow-up period, pain intensity of responders on 5 mg and 10 mg tropisetron was still markedly below baseline. The treatment was well tolerated, with gastro-intestinal complaints being the most frequently reported side effects, in keeping with the known safety profile for 5-HT3 receptor antagonists. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the efficacy of short-term treatment with 5 mg tropisetron once daily in primary fibromyalgia. Treatment was well tolerated and prolonged clinical benefits were seen.

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