A pain relief plaster has been approved for restricted use in Scotland following new trials which showed it to be effective at relieving the pain caused by shingles.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium gave the approval for Versatis - a soft hydrogel plaster which is impregnated with lidocaine, a local analgesic.
Post-herpetic neuralgia - the pain that persists for more than three months after the onset of the shingles rash - affects approximately 200,000 people in the UK. It can start several weeks or even months after the rash has gone and can continue for weeks, months or years.
When applied to the skin, the Versatis plaster releases lidocaine into the skin to impair the transfer of signals which are normally associated with the perception of pain. Used as a continuous once-daily (12 hours on, 12 hours off) treatment for two to four weeks, it provides rapid and continuous pain relief.
Heather Wallace, Chairman of Pain Concern welcomed the decision: "The SMC is to be congratulated," she said. "They've taken a huge step forward in extending options for pain relief for people living with neuropathic pain. This decision will alleviate a lot of suffering."