In this study, the effect of the medication gabapentin to treat itching secondary to liver
disease is being studied.
There are some funds to cover travel expenses for patients who are not from New York (NY).
Gabapentin is approved to treat seizures in human beings. In this study, patients with liver
disease who meet inclusion criteria are admitted to the research hospital of the New York
Presbyterian Hospital to record scratching behavior by the use of a machine designed for that
purpose. Blood work will be obtained. After completion of recording, patients are assigned by
chance to receive active medication or placebo (a capsule that does not contain active
medication). The patients will come to the outpatient office of the research hospital 2 weeks
into the study for an interview and blood work. After 4 weeks, patients are readmitted to the
hospital to record scratching behavior. After data are collected, the code is broken, if
patient had been on inactive drug, active drug will be supplied as per protocol for 4 weeks.
Blood work will be obtained. If patient had been randomized to active medication, the study
will provide one week supply of drug. After that, the referring physician, with whom the
study was previously discussed, could prescribe the medication as it is available.
Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of gabapentin for the pruritus of
cholestasis. Duration: 4 weeks. Some travel funds available for patients from out of the NY
area for all the visits. Hospitalization at baseline and after 4 weeks of treatment. One
outpatient department visit at week 2.
All patients have to be referred by their physician, who will receive a summary of the
results at the end of the patient's study participation.
If patients are randomized to active drug and respond to it with decrease in pruritus, a one
week supply of medication is given. The referring physician could prescribe the drug for long
term use. If the patient is randomized to placebo they can be treated with active medication
provided by the study for 4 weeks, at end of which, the drug could be prescribed by referring
physician if the patient responds to the drug with decrease in the pruritus.
Inclusion criteria include:
- Patients from ages 18 to 80 with chronic pruritus secondary to liver disease
Patients must have:
- a normal chest X- ray during the previous year
- normal thyroid function tests (treated thyroid dysfunction is acceptable)
- controlled diabetes, if diabetes mellitus is present
- negative fecal occult blood within the previous year
Exclusion criteria include:
- history of hepatic encephalopathy
- decompensated liver disease as suggested by ascites and history of variceal bleeding
- inability to practice contraception
- creatinine > 1.7 mg/dl
- hemoglobin < 10mg/dl
- S/P liver transplantation
- HIV infection