Painful Diabetic Neuropathy the Gambia
They mostly seem to use paracetamol for these pains, which we know, as doctors, that this does not work easing the pains. You have to treat diabetic pains differently. This also holds true for Senegal and other Subsaharean African countries (SSA). Since 1980 the prevalence of Diabetes has doubled, according to the WHO.
We have done a lot of development work in recent years and have now developed an analgesic cream, which gives pain relief after 30 minutes after applying to the painful areas.
In 2017, we made a small start exploring how to set up a possible project to treat patients suffering from severe nerve pain in one of the SSA countries. We started exploring this with the initial support of Gambian medical colleagues.
Gambia and diabetic pains
The Gambia is the smallest country of the African continent. Its population is 2 million, and the rate of growth is 2.8% per year over the last decade. Diabetes increases in The Gambia, W.H.O. estimates diabetes by 2030 over 18 million people will have the condition in Africa.
Diabetes is a deadly disease that affects 371 million people worldwide, and 187 million of them don’t know they have diabetes. The Gambia is not immune to this disease. According to recent World Health Organization (WHO) data, The Gambian population has a higher percentage overall of raised blood glucose level compared to other Sub-Saharan Africa countries. Clearly, something needs to be done about diabetes in The Gambia.
Project Phenytoin Cream in Painful Diabetic Neuropathy in Gambia
In January, the first contacts were made with a colleague from the Medical Research Council there. This to map the first steps and to get an impression of whether the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy in the patients of Gambia would be possible.
In the period January-April 2018, the first preparations were made to have conversations with various doctors working in the Gambia health care. Furthermore, the landscape of the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy has been mapped, as is currently the case in Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries.
In April the first samples of Phenytoin cream and placebo cream were issued to one of the coordinating doctors. A start has also been made with the first article, which analyzes the context of painful diabetic neuropathy in SSA countries and determines the place of treatment with phenytoin cream.
There has also been contact with a charity and publicity activist in the Gambia, the DJ G Faal, who acts on behalf of the Diabetes Gambia association. In addition, discussions were held in which options were also discussed to place parts of the phenytoin project in Nigeria, where contact is possible with a gastero-enterologist.
Repositioning of phenytoin in poor SSA countries
Repositioning of phenytoin as an analgesic drug in non-main countries is meanwhile identified in the world, and at the 3rd Eastern-European Pain Congress: 7−9 June 2018 in Kyiv, Ukraine we will present a number of latest findings related to the project of repurposing phenytoin as a cream for the treatment of peripheral neuropathic pain. Topics presented will be:
- ‘New developments in topical treatment of peripheral neuropathic pain from the perspective of repositioned drugs. Enrichment designs in topical analgesic treatment, the role of a single blind response test in research a daily practice’, and: ‘the role of topical phenytoin formulations in the treatment of peripheral neuropathic pain.’
Gambia Health system
The healthcare system in the Gambia is basically a 3 level-system:
- The first level is focused on small villages with populations of over 400 individuals.
- On a secondary level health care is provided by large and small health centers in somewhat bigger agglomeraties.
- Care is delivered by 4 big referral hospitals and organizations: the Medical Research Council (MRC), several private clinics and NGO operated clinics.
In addition to the 4 referral hospitals, there are 8 main health centers and a further 16 smaller centers, 200 plus mobile clinic unit teams as well as the Medical Research Council which is funded by the UK Government.
There are also a number of privately run clinics as well as a few health focused NGOs operating in the Gambia. Health facility coverage is amongst the best in Africa (more than 80% of the population have access). Source
April 2018, prof. dr. Jan M. Keppel Hesselink, pain physician, pharmacologist
‘Painful Diabetic Neuropathy the Gambia’
Watch here our video’s about Neuropathy.
 Rolfe M1, Tang CM, Walker RW, Bassey E, George M. | Diabetes mellitus in The Gambia, west Africa. | Diabet Med. | 1992 Jun;9(5):484-8.
 Wilson DF1, Rumsey WL. | Factors modulating the oxygen dependence of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. | Adv Exp Med Biol. | 1988;222:121-31.
 Kopsky DJ1, Keppel Hesselink JM2. | Phenytoin in topical formulations augments pain reduction of other topically applied analgesics in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia. | J Clin Anesth. | 2017 May;38:154-155. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinane.2017.01.040. Epub 2017 Feb 17.
 Kopsky DJ1, Keppel Hesselink JM2. | Topical phenytoin for the treatment of neuropathic pain. | J Pain Res. | 2017 Feb 27;10:469-473. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S129749. eCollection 2017.
 Chiosi F1, Keppel Hesselink J2, Rinaldi M3, Di Staso S4, Bartollino S1, Costagliola C1. | Phenytoin: its potential as neuroprotective and retinoprotective drug. | Br J Clin Pharmacol. | 2018 Jan;84(1):195-196. doi: 10.1111/bcp.13435. Epub 2017 Oct 12.