Data from a comparison study found that over-the-counter (OTC) transdermal lidocaine with menthol patches proved noninferior to prescription (Rx) lidocaine patches for efficacy, safety, and quality of life. The full findings are published in Pain Management.

For patients with localized pain (eg, back pain, arthritis pain), transdermal lidocaine has “become a gold standard” in treatment. Study authors sought to compare OTC lidocaine 3.6% with menthol 1.25% patches vs. Rx lidocaine 5% as well as to placebo. The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (n=87) randomized patients to these three treatment arms and assessed efficacy, adverse effects, and quality of life.

The data showed OTC lidocaine with menthol patches demonstrated noninferiority to Rx lidocaine. Compared to placebo, the OTC lidocaine with menthol patches demonstrated superiority for efficacy, general activity, and normal work; the safety profiles were similar.

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Based on these findings, the authors believe that menthol increases skin permeability which allows for more efficient drug delivery to the pain area and results in “higher than expected efficacy.” The lower cost and resource utilization of OTC patches may be favorable for patients and payers, the authors concluded.

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