(HealthDay News) – The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent diflunisal slows the rate of neurodegenerative progression associated with familial amyloid polyneruopathy, according to a study published in the Dec. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

John L. Berk, MD, from Boston University, and colleagues conducted a trial in which 130 patients with familial amyloid polyneuropathy exhibiting neuropathy were randomized to receive diflunisal, 250mg (64 participants), or placebo (66 participants) twice daily for two years. The Neuropathy Impairment Score plus 7 nerve tests (NIS+7) was used to measure the difference in polyneuropathy progression between treatments.

The researchers found that the NIS+7 score increased by 25 points in the placebo group and by 8.7 points in the diflunisal group (P<0.001). Mean physical scores on the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) decreased by 4.9 points in the placebo group and increased by 1.5 points in the diflunisal group (P<0.001), while mean SF-36 mental scores declined by 1.1 points and increased by 3.7 points, respectively (P=0.02). Significantly more patients in the diflunisal group showed neurological stability at two years, compared to the placebo group (29.7% vs. 9.4%; P=0.007).

“Among patients with familial amyloid polyneuropathy, the use of diflunisal compared with placebo for two years reduced the rate of progression of neurological impairment and preserved quality of life,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Merck Sharp & Dohme supplied the study drug.

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