MC11C4: a pilot randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of venlafaxine to prevent oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy

Collin Zimmerman, Pamela J. Atherton, Deirdre Pachman, Drew Seisler, Nina Wagner-Johnston, Shaker Dakhil, Jacqueline M. Lafky, Rui Qin, Axel Grothey, Charles L. Loprinzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Purpose: Previous pilot data suggested that venlafaxine could prevent acute and chronic oxaliplatin-related neuropathy. The purpose of this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded pilot study was to obtain additional data to support conducting a phase III trial to test the use of venlafaxine to prevent oxaliplatin neurotoxicity. Methods: Fifty patients, scheduled to undergo oxaliplatin-based therapy (FOLFOX) for stages II–III (67 %) or stage IV (33 %) colon cancer, were randomized to receive venlafaxine extended release (37.5 mg) or placebo, twice daily, through their last dose of oxaliplatin and then titrated off. Neurotoxicity was evaluated via several patient- and physician-reported measures, including the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy 20 (EORTC QLQ-CIPN20) instrument. Results: Baseline patient characteristics were equivalent for the two arms, with a median age of 60 years. There was a trend toward benefit for the venlafaxine arm, when evaluated by the oxaliplatin-specific neuropathy scale and by acute neuropathy measures of throat discomfort and discomfort swallowing cold liquids, the latter only for the first two oxaliplatin doses. These trends were outweighed by a lack of any such trends in all other measurements including the following: (1) the CIPN20 sensory subscale (P = 0.55, primary endpoint), physician-completed NCI CTCAE assessment, or cumulative administered oxaliplatin doses (median 716 vs 631 mg for placebo and venlafaxine, respectively, P = 0.34). Conclusions: The present study neither supports the use of venlafaxine for preventing oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy in clinical practice nor the initiation of a phase III trial to investigate venlafaxine in this setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1071-1078
Number of pages8
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Chemotherapy-induced neuropathy prevention
  • Venlafaxine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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