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Cocaine-free topical anaesthetics ‘may be effective’

A new brand of cocaine-free topical anaesthetics may be effective in the treatment of pain caused by broken skin, according to a new systematic review.

Wiping or placing an anaesthetic cream, gel or patch onto damaged skin can be easier to perform and less painful to the patient than injecting a painkiller through a needle.

The first versions of this form of painkiller used cocaine, but this makes the painkiller difficult to use in practice because there are concerns over possible side effects and in many countries cocaine use is tightly controlled. Consequently the pharmaceutical industry has produced a range of non-cocaine topical anaesthetics.

In this new study, a team of Cochrane researchers analysed data from 32 randomised control trials comprising a total of 3,128 patients.

“The research clearly showed that cocaine-free topical anaesthetics can substantially reduce pain without triggering serious side effects,” said the study’s lead researcher Anthony Eidelman.

“We need to encourage people to do more research using non-cocaine topical anaesthetics and to perform the research in ways that are sufficiently rigorous.

“These agents look promising at the moment, but it would be great to confirm their value with high-quality research.”

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