Medicines

High praise for research showing pregabalin is no use for sciatica


A study which shows the drug pregabalin is no better than placebo for treating sciatica has been named a runner-up for a prestigious research award.

The University of Sydney Musculoskeletal Health Study Research Group’s PRECISE trial, published last year in The New England Journal of Medicine, was one of three finalists in the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance’s annual competition, which recognises outstanding achievements in investigator-initiated clinical trials.

The randomised controlled trial involving 209 patients with moderate to severe leg pain found no significant difference in pain intensity between the treated and control group at eight weeks and 12 months.

The accolades speak to the impact and quality of the PRECISE trial, and the results have far reaching consequences for real world clinical practice, said the study’s senior author, Associate Professor Christine Lin.

“In recent years there has been a huge increase in the use of pregabalin, a nerve pain medication, to treat sciatica,” she said.

“The PRECISE trial now provides strong evidence that pregabalin does not provide benefits in people with sciatica but is associated with an increased risk of side effects like dizziness.

“These results mean that doctors and patients should avoid the use of pregabalin in patients with sciatica.”

The winner of Trial of the Year, announced on May 16, was the Australian Placental Transfusion Study, also carried out by researchers from the University of Sydney. The work showed that delayed clamping of the umbilical cord in preterm infants cuts the relative risk of death by a third.

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