Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Under suspicion: the painkiller ziconotide could increase suicidal ideation

23.11.2010
Experts recommend more precise diagnosis and closer medical surveillance / RUB pharmacists issue a warning in “PAIN”

The active agent ziconotide, the synthetic toxin of the cone snail (Conus magus), was acclaimed a safe alternative to morphine when it was introduced six years ago. Now it is increasingly suspected of causing patients to commit suicide. Researchers working under the auspices of Prof. Christoph Maier (Director of the Pain Clinic Bergmannsheil at the Ruhr University in Bochum) presume that ziconotide not only suppresses the transmission of pain stimuli, but also deteriorates the frame of mind and could simultaneously reduce anxiety and impulse control.

These mechanisms could promote suicidal tendencies in vulnerable patients. The research scientists thus advise careful diagnosis and monitoring of the psychic condition of patients treated with ziconotide. They have published their findings in the Medical Journal “PAIN.”

Alternative to opioids for severe pain

Ziconotide has numerous advantages, including the fact that it does not have any of the side effects typically associated with opioids, such as respiratory depression (asphyxia). Moreover, it does not lead to tolerance development. It has been on the European and American market since 2004, being administered to patients with intrathecal pumps if opioids do not suffice or if these trigger inacceptable side effects. Recently, the number of reports on the psychic side effects of ziconotide has increased. The researchers in Bochum analysed numerous studies, registering an increasing number of attempted suicides, which the original authors had not attributed to the ziconotide treatment. In PAIN, the physicians from RUB present two new cases, which underscore the suspicion that ziconotide enhances suicidal ideation.

Suicide despite pain relief and normal test results

As Prof. Maier stated, the first case is particularly tragic, the patient concerned, who had had pain is his feet for many years and undergone numerous unsuccessful treatments, having experienced a distinct improvement and pain relief for the first time when treated with ziconotide. There were no side effects. Tests disclosed that his depressiveness, which had also not been particularly marked before the ziconotide treatment commenced, even decreased. After a good three weeks, he appeared to be happy to all concerned. But two months after the ziconotide treatment had commenced he unexpectedly committed suicide. A further patient, a 39-year-old woman, who had undergone pain treatment for backache for 14 years, had had depressive phases 20 years previously and had attempted suicide after a pregnancy. Two months after the ziconotide treatment had commenced – which, according to current recommendations, should never have been administered to her in the first place due to her medical history – she mentioned that she had increased suicidal ideation. Moreover, she complained of other psychic side effects with hallucinations, confusion and partial amnesia, which had resulted in two severe car accidents. It is conceivable that the accidents were also of suicidal character. The physicians stopped the ziconotide treatment. Two weeks later both the suicidal ideation and the hallucinations were history.

Pharmaceutical companies and approval authorities must investigate the situation

Prof. Maier concludes that both cases underscore the assumption that there is a causality between ziconotide and suicidal tendencies. The pain specialist strongly emphasizes that the pharmaceutical companies and approval authorities should urgently investigate this yet again. All patients must be analysed for possible psychic disorders before treatment commences and closely monitored irrespective of pain relief due to the drug. The above-mentioned cases also underscore the fact that an increase in pain treatment when standard drugs fail is not always the correct mode of action. As Prof. Maier so aptly said, it is often even exactly the wrong path. This had already been pointed out a few weeks previously at the Congress of the German Pain Therapists (Kongress der deutschen Schmerztherapeuten)

Title

Christoph Maier, Hans-Helmut Gockel, Kai Gruhn, Elena K. Krumova and Marc-Andreas Edel: Increased risk of suicide under intrathecal ziconotide treatment? – A warning. In: PAIN, online 1.11.2010, doi:10.1016/j.pain.2010.10.007, http://www.painjournalonline.com/article/S0304-3959%2810%2900615-9/abstract

Further Information

Prof. Dr. Christoph Maier, Leiter der Schmerzklinik des RUB-Klinikums Bergmannsheil, Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789 Bochum, Tel. +49(0)234/302-6366, E-Mail: christoph.maier@rub.de

Editor: Meike Drießen

Dr. Josef König | idw
Further information:
http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/
http://www.painjournalonline.com/article/S0304-3959%2810%2900615-9/abstract

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

nachricht Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>