This is an updated version of the original Cochrane review published in Issue 3, 2012. That review considered both fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain, but the efficacy of milnacipran for neuropathic pain is now dealt with in a separate review.Milnacipran is a serotonin-norepinephrine (noradrenaline) reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that is licensed for the treatment of fibromyalgia in some countries, including Canada, Russia, and the United States.
To assess the analgesic efficacy of milnacipran for pain in fibromyalgia in adults and the adverse events associated with its use in clinical trials.
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, and EMBASE to 18 May 2015, together with reference lists of retrieved papers and reviews, and two clinical trial registries. For the earlier review, we also contacted the manufacturer.
We included randomised, double-blind studies of eight weeks' duration or longer, comparing milnacipran with placebo or another active treatment in fibromyalgia in adults.
We extracted efficacy and adverse event data, and two review authors examined issues of study quality independently.
We identified one new study with 100 participants for the pooled analysis. We identified two additional reports of a study using an enriched enrolment randomised withdrawal (EERW) design that included participants from earlier randomised controlled trials and an open-label study. Because this study used the same participants already included in our main analysis, and a different design, we dealt with it separately.The main analysis included six studies (five from the earlier review; 4238 participants in total), all of which were placebo-controlled, and used titration to a target dose of milnacipran 100 or 200 mg, with assessment after 8 to 24 weeks of stable treatment. There were no studies with active comparators. Study quality was generally good, although the imputation method used in analyses of the primary outcomes could overestimate treatment effect.Both doses of milnacipran provided moderate levels of pain relief (at least 30% pain intensity reduction) to about 40% of participants treated, compared to 30% with placebo, giving a number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNT) of 6 to 10 (high quality evidence). Using a stricter definition for responder and a more conservative method of analysis gave lower levels of response (while maintaining a 10% difference between milnacipran and placebo) and increased the NNT to 11 (high quality evidence). One EERW study was broadly supportive.Adverse events were common in both milnacipran (86%) and placebo (78%) groups (high quality evidence), but serious adverse events did not differ between groups (less than 2%) (low quality evidence). Nausea, constipation, and headache were the most common events showing the greatest difference between groups (number needed to treat for an additional harmful outcome (NNH) of 5.7 for nausea, 13 for constipation, and 29 for headache) (moderate quality evidence).Withdrawals for any reason were more common with milnacipran than placebo, and more common with 200 mg (NNH 9) than 100 mg (NNH 23), compared with placebo. This was largely driven by adverse event withdrawals, where the NNH compared with placebo was 14 for 100 mg and 7.0 for 200 mg (high quality evidence). Withdrawals due to lack of efficacy were less common with milnacipran than placebo but did not differ between doses (number needed to treat to prevent an additional unwanted outcome (NNTp) of 41) (moderate quality evidence).
The evidence available indicates that milnacipran 100 mg or 200 mg is effective for a minority in the treatment of pain due to fibromyalgia, providing moderate levels of pain relief (at least 30%) to about 40% of participants, compared with about 30% with placebo. There were insufficient data to assess substantial levels of pain relief (at least 50%), and the use of last observation carried forward imputation may overestimate drug efficacy. Using stricter criteria for 'responder' and a more conservative method of analysis gave lower response rates (about 26% with milnacipran versus 17% with placebo). Milnacipran was associated with increased adverse events and adverse event withdrawals, which were significantly greater for the higher dose.