Antidepressant Use in Chronic Pain Management: Is There Evidence of a Role for Duloxetine?



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Background: Duloxetine is a novel antidepressant that is anticipated to be clinically available soon. It exerts simultaneous noradrenergic and serotonergic neurotransmitter effects. Because of these influences, it is postulated to have a role in management of pain.

Data Sources: An Index Medicus search from 1997 to 2003 was conducted using the search terms duloxetine, Cymbalta, and pain.

Data Analysis: Preclinical animal studies suggest that duloxetine may have a direct analgesic role. Premarketing studies have emphasized its utility in alleviating somatic, specifically pain, complaints among patients with major depression.

Conclusion: Although promising, these results cannot be generalized to patients with pain disorders; the reasons for this are discussed herein. While duloxetine may be useful among somatizing depressed patients and possibly chronic pain patients with comorbid depression, its analgesic role has yet to be elucidated in future research.

Primary Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2003;5(3):118-123