Capsaicin: The biggest winner in CAM for 2009

FDAQutenza (capsaicin) 8% patch is a medicated skin patch that can be used to help relieve the pain of post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).

This high concentration is now approved by the FDA for use as a prescription drug. And that places this complementary option for treating PHN squarely in the main stream.

Qutenza contains capsaicin, a compound found in chili peppers. Although there are over-the-counter products with lower concentrations of capsaicin that are marketed for the treatment of PHN, Qutenza is the first pure, concentrated, synthetic capsaicin-containing prescription drug to undergo FDA review.

The most frequently reported adverse drug reactions included pain, swelling, itching, redness, and bumps at the application site.

The bottom line?
Qutenza must be applied to the skin by a healthcare professional since placement of the patch can be quite painful, requiring the use of a local topical anesthetic, as well as additional pain relief such as ice or use of opioid pain relievers.

The patient must also be monitored for at least an hour since there is a risk of a significant rise in blood pressure following patch placement.

11/19/09 20:05 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.