A pill used to treat nerve pain has been found effective in treating hot flashes in women, claim Mayo Clinic researchers.
They have found that pregabalin decreased hot flash severity and frequency about 20 percent more than did a placebo.
Pregabalin has been found to offer about the same benefit as gabapentin, an older, related drug, as well as newer classes of antidepressants.
"Hot flashes are a major problem in many women, and for those who opt not to take hormonal therapies or antidepressants, pregabalin appears to be another treatment option," said the study's lead author, Charles Loprinzi, M.D., a medical oncologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
Women who use pregabalin only need to take two pills a day, versus three for gabapentin, he added.
Gabapentin and a variety of antidepressants are commonly prescribed for treatment of hot flashes and pregabalin is a newer version of gabapentin.
Dr. Loprinzi and colleagues set up a 207-participant study conducted by the North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG). Patients getting pregabalin started off with lower doses which were increased weekly to the eventual full dose.
The researchers found that for the 163 patients both doses of pregabalin reduced hot flashes to about the same degree, but that toxicities, such as cognitive dysfunction, were increased at the higher dose.
After six weeks of treatment, women receiving pregabalin showed 65 percent decrease in hot flashes compared to 50 percent decrease in those receiving placebo.
"All in all, this study demonstrates that we have another agent to add to the list of medications that offer benefit against hot flashes, even in women using anti-estrogen therapies," said Dr. Loprinzi .
The findings were presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).