Objective: To determine the safety and tolerability of mexiletine in a phase II double-blind randomized controlled trial of sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (SALS). Methods: Sixty participants with SALS from 10 centers were randomized 1:1:1 to placebo, mexiletine 300 mg/d, or mexiletine 900 mg/d and followed for 12 weeks. The primary endpoints were safety and tolerability. Secondary endpoints were pharmacokinetic study from plasma and CSF, ALS Functional Rating Scale-Revised (ALSFRS-R) score, slow vital capacity (SVC), and muscle cramp frequency and severity. Results: The only serious adverse event among active arm participants was one episode of imbalance. Thirty-two percent of participants receiving 900 mg of mexiletine discontinued study drug vs 5% on placebo (p 0.026). Pharmacokinetic study demonstrated a peak plasma concentration 2 hours postdose and strong correlation between plasma and CSF (p < 0.001). Rates of decline of ALSFRS-R and SVC did not differ from placebo. Analysis of all randomized patients demonstrated significant reductions of muscle cramp frequency (300 mg: rate 31% of placebo, p 0.047; 900 mg: 16% of placebo, p 0.002) and cramp intensity (300 mg: mean 45% of placebo, p 0.08; 900 mg: 25% of placebo, p 0.005). Conclusions: Mexiletine was safe at both doses and well-tolerated at 300 mg/d but adverse effects at 900 mg/d led to a high rate of discontinuation. Mexiletine treatment resulted in large dose-dependent reductions in muscle cramp frequency and severity. No effect on rate of progression was detected, but clinically important differences could not be excluded in this small and short-duration study. Classification of evidence: This study provides Class I evidence that mexiletine is safe when given daily to patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at 300 and 900 mg and well-tolerated at the lower dose.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology