Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The Qutenza (capsaicin) skin patch has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat pain due to postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), the nerve pain that may follow shingles, drug maker NeurogesX said in a news release.
Capsaicin is the substance in chili peppers that provides the heat sensation. The Qutenza 8 percent patch delivers a synthetic form of the substance to the skin where the nerve pain is felt, the company said.
Clinical studies showed PHN pain was reduced for up to 12 weeks with the one-hour application of as many as four Qutenza patches, which can be cut to conform to the areas of pain. The non-narcotic medication is unlikely to cause drowsiness or interact with other drugs, NeurogesX said.
The most common clinical side effects reported were redness at the application site, an increase in blood pressure and itching.
Qutenza is likely to be available in the United States in the first quarter of next year, the company said. NeurogesX is based in San Francisco.