Ceftriaxone helped alleviate neuropathic pain in laboratory rats according to researchers lead by Dr. K. M. Ramos at the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and the Center for Neuroscience, in Boulder, Colorado.
In their research paper on a molecule called the glutamate transporter GLT-1, the research team concluded that “GLT-1 therefore may be a therapeutic target that could improve available treatment options for patients with chronic pain.”
Ceftriaxone is marketed by Hoffman-La Roche under the trade name Rocephin, and is a third-generation cephalosporin antibiotic approved for use on a prescription basis only to treat pneumonia and bacterial meningitis.
Since studies of ceftriaxone in the laboratory suggest it may protect motor neurons from injury, it is also being tested to relieve pain symptoms associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), though ceftriaxone by no means is a cure for ALS, which has so far resisted any known treatments.
Currently several medications are prescribed to treat the most common form of painful neuropathy, diabetic painful neuropathy (DPN). Among those are
- capsaicin cream and lidocaine patches (Lidoderm, Lidopain)
- tramadol (Ultram) and oxycodone have been shown to be effective in studies of limited duration but their adverse effects, such as constipation and physical dependency, may limit their usefulness as a first-line treatment for DPN
- tricyclic antidepressants have been shown to be effective for alleviating DPN, however their anticholinergic and sedative properties may not be well tolerated by patients – duloxetine (Cymbalta) is licensed in the US and EU for alleviating DPN
- gabapentin (Gabarone, Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica), appear to be the most evidence-based of the antiepileptic drugs for treating DPN
- topiramate, lamotrigine, sodium valproate and oxcarbazepine have been shown to be effective in smaller studies