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Neuropathy worse after stopping
Feb 19, 1998

Dr. Gallant, is it usual for drug-induced neuropathy to worsen for a while after stopping the drug that's presumably causing it? My friend was just taken off D4T after 2 years, during which his neuropathy worsened gradually. He had both pain and numbness, and while he typically got relief from the pain using Elavil, Calcium, Magnesium and B-6, the numbness was always there and is now MUCH worse. He'd been on what I'd always felt might have been too-high a dose of D4T (40mg bid, although he weighs only 125); the D4T was discontinued 3 weeks ago. Question: His new combo has another "D" drug in it, ddI; could the continued discomfort be related to that? If not, is it possible even to guess at how long the D4T-induced neuropathy might take to subside? I realize everyone responds differently to drugs and drug changes, but both I and another friend recently also switched combos in which, among other things, we discontinued D4T and began ddI, and we both saw a fairly quick disappearance of the pain and numbness. Thanks for your tireless effort and good humor here. By the way, when this is all over, where would you like us to put your statue?

Response from Dr. Gallant

No statue necessary. It's just nice to get your thanks.

Someone with bad neuropathy should not be taking ANY "d-drug": ddI, d4T, or ddC. They all cause neuropathy, and it's no surprise that your friend's is getting worse if he's on ddI. You and your other friend were fortunate when you made that switch, but what's happening to this guy is more typical.

After you've developed bad neuropathy from any d-drug, there can be a long delay before improvement as the nerves heal, and sometimes they don't if the neuropathy is severe enough. But worsening pain is most likely due to the use of a second "neuropathic" drug in place of the first one.


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