There’s More Concern About Animals Suffering Than People

By Debbie Westerman, Guest Columnist

I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, as well four herniated discs in my lower back. Because of the “opioid crisis,” I was taken off the only medication that ever helped: fentanyl.

I see a reputable doctor and he is very sympathetic. But as he put it, doctors are no longer just being sued, they are being threatened with jail time.

In addition to my pain and fear, I felt so sorry for him. We’ve tried everything: nerve blocks, injections and I have two spinal cord stimulators.

I was weaned off the fentanyl and only have hydrocodone that I take for breakthrough pain. 

I’ve done everything I’m supposed to. I have an appointment with my doctor every 28 days, along with random drug tests to make sure I’m only taking what he’s prescribing.

My insurance doesn’t pay for the random drug tests. I have to pay $150 each time. I don’t abuse my meds. All of my doctors know what I’m taking. I don’t get any type of pain meds from anyone except my pain management doctor.

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I have to go to work every day. I’m single and have to take care of myself. I use a walker to get around. It’s been months since I have slept more than 2 to 4 hours a night. I’m constantly turning over, putting the pillow under my legs or between my legs, and the rest of the night I’m in and out of bed trying to walk because the pain is so bad.

What really gets me is that if I were an animal and suffering this bad with this much pain, I would be humanely put down. As a society we’ve become more concerned about our animals than we are about people who are suffering unspeakable, unexplainable amounts of pain.

I’ve never wished my pain on anyone. But I really wish that there was some way that these people who think they know what’s best for me could spend 6 hours in my shoes. I guarantee they would be screaming a different tune.

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Debbie Westerman lives in Texas.

Pain News Network invites other readers to share their stories with us. Send them to editor@painnewsnetwork.org. 

The information in this column is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.

Ambroxol: A Potential New Treatment for Chronic Pain

By A Rahman Ford, PNN Columnist

Researchers say a drug long used in cough syrup and cold medicines shows potential for treating some types of neuropathic pain.

A small study recently published in the journal Headache found that topical administration of ambroxol in a cream could significantly decrease pain in patients with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic facial condition that can make even routine tasks such as brushing one’s teeth excruciatingly painful. 

In their review of the medical records of five trigeminal neuralgia patients, German researchers reported that all five patients experienced pain reduction with ambroxol 20% cream being applied within 30 minutes of a pain flare, with pain relief lasting from 4 to 6 hours.  In one case, pain was eliminated completely in one week.  

The results were similar to those of previous German studies and were so significant that researchers recommended that ambroxol “should be investigated further as a matter of urgency.”

Similarly, a recent study in the journal Pain Management found that application of topical ambroxol reduced spontaneous pain in several patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a little understood nerve condition that causes chronic pain after a significant injury or surgery.  Notably, ambroxol therapy improved several other neuropathy-related conditions in CRPS patients, including edema, allodynia, hyperalgesia, skin reddening, motor dysfunction and skin temperature.

An Old Drug with a New Purpose

With a pharmacological history that can be traced back to Indian ayurvedic medicine, ambroxol was initially approved in 1978 as a medication to break down mucus and make it easier to eliminate by coughing.  It is generally administered in tablet or syrup form. 

Ambroxol is also used to treat a sore throat associated with pharyngitis, thus its potential role as a potent local anesthetic.  The drug’s anesthetic properties stem from its ability to block sodium and calcium channels that transmit pain signals.

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Although the idea that ambroxol can treat a sore throat is widely accepted, its application to other forms of pain is more recent.  

Previous studies using animal models of neuropathic pain have been promising.  In a 2005 study, researchers effectively reduced – and in some cases eliminated – chronic neuropathic and inflammatory pain in rats. Indian researchers also found ambroxol effective in treating neuropathic pain in rats, attributing its success to its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.  Unfortunately, human studies are few at this point.

Ambroxol and Fibromyalgia

A 2017 Clinical Rheumatology study showed that ambroxol can play a key role in treating chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia.  As reported by Fibromyalgia News Today, researchers from Mexico added ambroxol to the treatment regimens of 25 fibromyalgia patients, three times a day for one month.  At the end of the study, pain scores decreased significantly and there was also noticeable improvement in sleep disturbances, stiffness and autonomic nervous system dysfunction.  No major adverse events were reported. 

Another 2017 study supported these findings, with the authors concluding that “fibromyalgia treatment with ambroxol should be systematically investigated” because the drug “is the only treatment option used thus far that has the potential to address not just individual but all of the aforementioned aspects of pain.”

Although data on its effectiveness in humans are limited, ambroxol shows great potential in treating painful conditions for which there are currently few safe and effective options.  It is particularly attractive because it has few significant side effects, is not addictive and can be administered topically in some instances.

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A. Rahman Ford, PhD, is a lawyer and research professional. He is a graduate of Rutgers University and the Howard University School of Law, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Howard Law Journal. He earned his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania.

Rahman lives with chronic inflammation in his digestive tract and is unable to eat solid food.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.

Scrambler Therapy Helped My Daughter Walk Again

By Reggie Greening, Guest Columnist

Beginning in August 2017, my daughter Amanda began having severe pain in her left foot after spraining her ankle. She was 20 years old at the time and described the pain as feeling as though her bones were being crushed by a red-hot anvil.

Over the next few months, Amanda started having more and more symptoms. It began with sharp pain, then discoloration, and severe swelling set in. This was about the time when she stopped being able to walk and had to be put on opioid medication in an attempt to manage the pain.

The bone crushing sensation began around the end of September, followed closely by burning pain. Amanda was still unable to walk and was taking opioids every four to six hours like clockwork. No one could figure out what was wrong or how to manage the pain other than with opioids.

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While attempting to get a diagnosis, Amanda went through many rounds of testing. She had multiple x-rays, two MRIs (one with contrast dye injected intravenously), a three-phase bone scan, a nerve conductivity test, and two phases of bloodwork examined. She also went to a plethora of doctors, including a podiatrist, orthopedist, rheumatologist, dermatologist, physical therapists, homeopathic physician, chiropractor, pain management doctor, and a general medicine doctor.

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The podiatrist and one of her physical therapists suspected Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), and her podiatrist was the one who eventually determined the diagnosis of CRPS on February 16, 2018.

This spurred my research to find a more sustainable treatment option for Amanda. I spent hours searching online before discovering Scrambler Therapy.

I found a physician in New Jersey who posted videos on YouTube about Scrambler Therapy (also known as Calmare Pain Relief Therapy) and its benefits for those suffering with CRPS and other chronic nerve conditions.

We live in Louisiana, so I looked for a doctor who had a Scrambler Therapy machine closer to our home state. I eventually found a doctor in Dallas who has a machine in his office.

Amanda’s first round of treatment was administered by an osteopathic doctor in March 2018. After the fourth consecutive day of treatment, she was able to walk with the aid of crutches for the first time in seven months. The next day, after her fifth treatment, Amanda was able to walk independently. By the end of her initial round of treatment, she was entirely off opioids and NSAID pain relievers.

Our local TV station did a story about Amanda’s recovery.

Right now, the Scrambler treatment is not covered by insurance and payment for it adds up rather quickly. I am trying to get this therapy more widely acknowledged and known about so that it may become an option for others suffering with chronic neuropathic pain.

I have seen the benefits of Scrambler Therapy firsthand in my daughter. At the time of this writing, Amanda has been off opioids for two months and has been able to maintain the benefits of the initial treatment through booster treatments as needed.

Scrambler Therapy has the potential to help not just those suffering from CRPS (for whom pain relief often seems distant and hopeless), but also for those suffering from other neuropathic pain conditions.

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The Greening family lives in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Pain News Network invites other readers to share their stories with us. Send them to editor@painnewsnetwork.org.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.

A Nightmare Experience With Surgery

By Rochelle Odell, Columnist

I have been warning my “healthy” family and friends that the opioid epidemic and the backlash against prescription opioids would affect them at some point. My recent nightmare of a surgery may prove that the time may now be at hand. 

On February 2, I underwent what normally would be minor surgery to remove a catheter -- called a portacath -- that had become dislodged. For patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), there is no such thing as a minor procedure and my experience became a prime example of what could go wrong.

My friend Debbie drove me to the hospital where the surgery was performed. I have undergone over 40 procedures for CRPS and I always become apprehensive, as any patient facing surgery should be. I told Debbie I did not have a warm toasty feeling about the surgery. I was frightened, a feeling I don't usually experience. But this time I did.

Before I was taken back to pre-op, Debbie asked me if I would like to pray. Thankful for the thought, I responded yes. It did not alleviate the feeling of dread nagging at me, but I hoped God would protect me.

Once in pre-op, the nurse went over my extensive allergy list. Believe me, it's long. I am allergic to almost all antibiotics, including penicillin, along with some opioids like Demerol and methadone, as well as aspirin and NSAID's. Betadine causes blisters and a horrible rash. I’m also allergic to most medical tape, including cloth, plastic, silk and paper tapes. The only one I can tolerate is Hypafix. It's a soft adhesive that allows the skin to breathe. I was very vocal about that.

The nurse asked what kind of surgery I was about to undergo and why. I told her it was because I don't have any good veins, never have, and that a catheter was a necessary evil. Without one, if I were to pass out or become very ill, dying could be a real possibility.

I told her she would only got two tries for the IV line I would need for surgery. I am not a pin cushion and multiple needle pricks could cause a major pain flare. She started the IV on the second try.

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The surgeon and anesthesiologist then came to see me. I explained how nervous I was and that I honestly was very close to walking out. I should have done that. I could tell the surgeon had no clue what CRPS was or how to treat me post-op. That is not unusual, a lot of doctors have no clue what it is, and that extra steps are needed to keep a major pain flare from happening.

Even the anesthesiologist seemed clueless about CRPS. I thought that odd, since anesthesiologists are often pain management physicians. He kept telling me don't worry, once in the operating room I would be out soon.

Four hours later I was taken to the operating room. I told the anesthesiologist that I forgot to add fentanyl to my allergy list. It gives me a smothering feeling and can't breathe. I also told him I wanted an LMA mask, because being intubated causes my asthma to flare. He told me he would use the mask, but he wanted to use fentanyl and that if I stopped breathing he would intubate me.

What is wrong with this explanation? Use something other than fentanyl and you won't have to intubate me. I also asked the surgeon to place me on IV antibiotics, as I have a long history of staph and MRSA infections.

Upon coming out of anesthesia, my throat was killing me. I knew he must have intubated me and used a drug I didn't want. The pain was excruciating. I was given small doses of Dilaudid and oxycodone, which did absolutely zip for me.

They also gave me IV Tylenol. Really, Tylenol post-op in a CRPS patient? The recovery room nurse was trying to console me as I was in tears.  Any nurse I dealt with said they were trying to make sure I didn't die of an opioid overdose. That took the cake, the minuscule doses I received were obviously not working, so an opioid overdose certainly would not happen.

One nurse told me my pain was emotional pain. I should have screamed at her to get away from me, but I was in so much pain I couldn't think clearly. I was kept for observation overnight, which brought more problems and the realization that the very thing I warned my healthy family and friends about was indeed at hand.

What kind of pain control do patients get now after surgery?  My surgeon was responsible for ordering all my meds, but how is a man who has no clue what CRPS is going to manage my pain? A man I had only seen one time before the surgery.

My RN was very sweet, but she too was stating what I think must be the hospital's policy. They do not want to provide opioid pain management.  Everyone is so convinced the opioid epidemic was and is caused by prescription opioid medication. It dawned on me, ignorance is alive and well and it must be contagious.

My ordeal continued to worsen. I looked at my surgery sites. Not only were my upper chest and right arm covered in the tell-tale orange color from Betadine, but there was medical tape. A big painful and very itchy rash had developed.

My skin was driving me nuts. I asked the nurse to remove the tape and use non-stick pads and Hypafix, but she refused. Didn't anyone read my allergy list? Why ask for one if you are going to ignore it? The surgeon ordered Benadryl cream for my arm. It helped a little and I did get one injection of IV Benadryl, but that was it. I received less medication in the hospital than I was taking at home.

After a long painful night, I told the nurse I would refuse to see the surgeon. Anyone who causes a patient as much pain as he did is one I will not see again. The nurse said he had to see me in order to release me. I told her to tell him to have a different doctor release me, as I did not want to see him. I was livid. The morning I was released I removed the tape, as I could no longer tolerate it. She helped me cover the area with sterile gauze.

As soon as I got home I cleaned the surgery area thoroughly and made an occlusive dressing over the two surgical sites. The next morning my whole upper right chest was covered with tiny blisters and a nasty looking rash. My friend took pictures for me.  The asthma flare I was afraid of was in full swing and I was running a temperature of 102.  I could barely breath and my pain was completely out of control.

I had a temperature for three weeks, and six weeks later I am still coughing up yellow gunk. That could have easily been prevented, but what do I know, I am just the patient.  Because I refused to see the surgeon for a post-op checkup, my primary care provider sent me a letter informing me I was trying to direct my care and was argumentative. He would only treat me for 30 more days and I needed to find a new primary care physician.

In the past I might have been upset with a letter like that, but since this opioid epidemic has affected me so negatively, I simply do not want to be seen by any physician who doesn't try to understand how sick I am. I was in so much pain.  Wouldn't you try to direct your care at that point?

My ordeal has not ended. As of this writing, the whole port area and catheter tubing are swollen and look infected. Have I gotten it checked yet? Nope. I have literally been frozen in place by fear, a fear I have never experienced before. I know this will require more surgery to remove and replace the portacath. Just thinking about it scares me.

All of this could have been avoided if my allergy list had been read, if there had been adequate pain management, and if IV antibiotics had been started. If this is the future of medical care, I may reconsider seeing any doctor. It just isn't worth the stress and pain.

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Rochelle Odell lives in California. She’s lived for nearly 25 years with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS/RSD).

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.

Rare Disorders Require Unusual Care

By Roger Chriss, Columnist

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of listing cannabis as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act is underway in New York City.

The plaintiffs, including an Iraq War veteran with PTSD and a 12-year-old girl with a rare seizure disorder, are claiming that the government’s decision to classify marijuana as an illegal controlled substance is irrational, unconstitutional and motivated by politics, not science.

The position of the federal government is simple: Marijuana has no accepted medical use and poses a significant risk of abuse and addiction.  But the situation is complex and emblematic of a larger issue – which is the medical treatment of people with rare and incurable disorders.

Modern medicine is an increasingly precise undertaking involving thousands of possible diagnoses, many with multiple treatment options.

There is a wide range of disorders that involve crippling anxiety, including post-traumatic stress disorder. There are also many seizure disorders, including conditions like Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, that are extremely difficult to treat.

In the same fashion, there are hundreds of disorders that cause debilitating pain that persists for months, years or even a lifetime, including interstitial cystitis, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, and trigeminal neuralgia.

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Many of these disorders are rare and entirely unfamiliar to non-specialists. But even when the disorder itself is not so rare, its presentation may be rare in terms of severity. Fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis are common enough, but still can be debilitating in some cases.

As a result, research on such disorders is thin and clinical trials are few and far between. For instance, there are no studies of cannabis for small fiber neuropathy and only a handful on cannabis for cluster headaches. When trials do exist, they are easily criticized as being statistically underpowered because of the small number of participants.

Moreover, standard treatments do not necessarily work for everyone. Neuropathic pain sometimes responds well to neuroleptic drugs like gabapentin (Neurontin), but as a recent Cochrane review found, over half of those treated with gabapentin will not have worthwhile pain relief and may experience adverse side effects.

Usual Rules Don’t Apply

Many people with rare disorders are often medically atypical in other important ways. Patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, for example, are famously intolerant of a wide range of medications. So the usual rules about medications may not even apply to people with rare disorders.

All of this creates obvious clinical difficulties. It is not easy to develop standards of care for rare disorders. General recommendations are based on limited clinical experience and testing, often with people whose reactions to common, generally well-tolerated medications are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Thus, medications that are controversial may still be useful for people with rare disorders, especially if they are refractory to common treatments.

The opioid crisis has been national news for years, with many states, insurers like Kaiser Permanente and Intermountain Health, and drug store chains like CVS moving to reduce prescribing levels. But for some conditions, opioid medication remains one of the few viable alternatives.

For instance, the Mayo Clinic recognizes the value of opioids for refractory restless leg syndrome, calling them “a mainstay in the management of these patients.” And the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke acknowledges the complexity of neuropathic pain when it lists opioids and anticonvulsants as potentially useful.

The situation is similar for medical cannabis. The federal government gave marijuana Schedule I status in the 1970s, but many states legalized medical cannabis in the past two decades in part to deal with rare disorders that do not respond to conventional treatment. Clinical research is justifying this.  A 2017 trial of cannabidiol for drug-resistant seizures in Dravet Syndrome found that cannabis based medication reduced the frequency of convulsive seizures.

In other words, rare disorders involving problems such as severe pain, seizures or anxiety require highly specialized care using all available options. In many cases, people with these disorders have failed first-line therapies and even second-line therapies. They are facing choices that do not occur in everyday clinical practice but now have to be considered.

Thus, the issue here goes beyond rescheduling cannabis or reining in opioid prescribing. The average person has little if any medical need for these substances. But medicine has to address the needs of all people, and healthcare laws and regulations cannot ignore the reality that some people are living with challenging and rare disorders.

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Roger Chriss lives with Ehlers Danlos syndrome and is a proud member of the Ehlers-Danlos Society. Roger is a technical consultant in Washington state, where he specializes in mathematics and research.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.

Are You Still Hoping for a Cure?

By Rochelle Odell, Columnist

As a 25 year survivor of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS/RSD), I ask myself all the time if I have lost hope, become too cynical and if reality has finally hit home.

Yes to all three, unfortunately. And I don't like that.

For most chronic pain conditions, there is usually hope for a cure. But for some there is no hope at all -- people just have to learn to live with the outcome and hope there are doctors who know how to treat it accordingly.

When viewing the main CRPS/RSD websites and support groups, hope for a cure is a common thread. But in reality for me and others like me who have lived with this insidious monster for far too long, there truly is no hope. Medical treatment and modalities have changed little in the 25 years I have battled this disease and that concerns me.

Why haven't greater strides been made? Possibly because researchers and scientists just do not fully understand the human brain yet. Until there is a complete understanding of the mechanics of this disease and others like it, hope ends there.

I recently learned from a friend that her physician, a general practitioner, had little respect for anesthesiologists who treated post-surgical pain and how he felt a patient wasn't treated appropriately. So I looked into when pain management became its own medical specialty.

Pain management became the first sub-specialty of anesthesia in 1993, the same year that I was diagnosed with CRPS/RSD. Most pain management specialists are anesthesiologists, but neurologists and psychiatrists can also become board certified in pain management. The training is long and arduous, but they are among the highest paid in the medical profession.  

When my treatment began, my first pain management physician was still learning and I was his all too cooperative guinea pig. I just wanted the CRPS/RSD pain in my left foot to go away. Would I go down that path again? Never.

My outcome may have been much better without all the “minimally invasive” procedures that were attempted. It started with epidural blocks and progressed from there. The more procedures that were done, the faster the CRPS/RSD spread and the worse the pain became. 

I often wonder where the term “minimally invasive” began. Even though doctors may not go deeply into the body, just by going into our spine or brain for whatever reason, they are venturing into the very nerve fiber of every patient. That is not minimal.

I have read where researchers, scientists and even some pain management physicians now believe that all those minimally invasive procedures may in the end do more harm than good.  Do I believe it?  Absolutely!  But that's just me -- although many long term CRPS/RSD patients will admit that it was wrong for them too.  Most just do not go around talking about this other dark side of the pain. 

There are times I want to scream at a patient: DON'T DO IT! EXPLORE ALL YOUR OPTIONS FIRST. AND ABOVE ALL EDUCATE YOURSELF!

But I don't, I temper my tongue.

Many of us don't believe our physicians as we are rushed through an appointment. We may be allotted only about 10-15 minutes. If you haven't written down your questions and concerns first, you soon realize you are sitting in the exam room with your mouth open as the doctor leaves, telling you to pick up your prescription at the front desk, schedule your next appointment or, worse yet, that they will be unable to treat you any longer. 

This type of inadequate treatment, with your pain increasing and no end in sight, is where cynicism soon develops.  It is also when reality hits you smack in the face and you start to question yourself. What in the hell am I doing here?

When clinical trials are started, they are aimed at a specific group of people, often in the early stages of a disease. There is often a large exclusion list, such as those of us who have had CRPS/RSD for many years. New treatments are not being investigated or developed for us, so the standard nerve blocks, injections, surgical procedures and implants are utilized. And now, because of the opioid crisis, more patients than ever are being dropped.

Treating a CRPS/RSD patient has so many variables. What works for one, doesn't work for the other, and what worked yesterday may not work the next day. Treating us has to be a nightmare for any physician.

I do have hope for patients who are newly diagnosed with CRPS/RSD, absolutely. But at this point in time, unless medical advances are developed, they soon will be walking down the same path so many of us long time pain patients or on, when hope is dashed, and cynicism and reality make a grand entrance.

I get tired of hearing the word “hope” as it has no meaning for me. Yet we are continually told to hope for a cure, to be brave, and to develop a positive attitude. Am I all doom and gloom? Not yet. I still smile and laugh.

But when alone in the dark, when reality hits me once again, I cry. 

Rochelle Odell lives in California. She lives with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS/RSD).

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.

FDA Designates CRPS Drug as ‘Breakthrough Therapy’

By Pat Anson, Editor

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has designated an experimental drug as a potential breakthrough therapy for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a chronic and disabling neurological disease for which there is no cure or treatment.

Neridronic acid was discovered by Abiogen Pharma, an Italian drug maker, and is jointly being developed with Grünenthal, a German pharmaceutical company.

The Breakthrough Therapy designation by the FDA came after the companies reported the results of a Phase II clinical trial showing a significant reduction in pain and symptoms of CRPS with neridronic acid treatment. The drug has already received fast track and orphan drug designations from the FDA.

The agency considers a new drug as a breakthrough therapy if it is intended to treat a serious condition and if preliminary clinical evidence demonstrates substantial improvement over current treatments. There are no current FDA approved treatments for CRPS, which is also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).

"It is very encouraging to see that the FDA recognizes the urgent need for new treatments for patients with CRPS and has granted neridronic acid the status of a Breakthrough Therapy. This supports our efforts to develop an efficacious treatment option to these patients,” said Klaus-Dieter Langner, MD, Chief Scientific Officer of Grünenthal. “We are committed to working closely with the FDA to bring neridronic acid to patients with CRPS as fast as possible.”

In the Phase II study, neridronic acid or a placebo was administered intravenously to 464 patients with CRPS type 1, when the disease is in its early stages. The study ended in November.  

A previous study of 82 CRPS patients in Italy found that those who were treated with infusions of neridronic acid experienced significant and persistent reductions in pain.

Neridronic acid is currently being evaluated in a Phase III clinical trial. If successful, the drug could be the first FDA-approved treatment for CRPS, which is characterized by severe, burning pain that usually begins in the arms or legs after an injury or surgery. The pain often spreads throughout the body.

"Grünenthal is highly dedicated to improving the lives of patients with pain as well as rare diseases with limited treatment options. This is an area of high unmet medical need,” Gabriel Baertschi, CEO of the Grünenthal.

The company recently purchased Thar Pharmaceuticals, which is developing an oral form of zoledronic acid for the treatment of CRPS. That drug is also undergoing a Phase III study.

Neridronic acid is an investigational aminobisphosphonate. According to the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association (RSDSA), bisphosphonates have been used for years overseas to treat CRPS.

“We need options and if this can help patients and encourage other medications and treatment options to come onto the market for CRPS’ers, it’s a great thing,” said Barby Ingle, who suffers from CRPS/RSD and is President of the International Pain Foundation.

“We saw with fibromyalgia and Lyrica that once it (fibromyalgia) had a medication designated it gained more awareness and acceptance in society, leading to better access to care. The same could happen with a CRPS designation for a medication, leading to greater treatments and a cure in the future.”