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Medications Used to Treat Fibromyalgia

written by: DaniellaNicole • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 7/31/2010

When it comes to medications for fibromyalgia, a patient may wonder if they are safe and effective. Learn more about several common fibromyalgia drugs and their side effects.

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    In recent years, several medications have been developed specifically for the treatment of Fibromyalgia (FMS). Learn more about these and other commonly prescribed medications for fibromyalgia.

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    Lyrica

    It may surprise some to learn that Lyrica, a drug FDA-approved to treat fibromyalgia pain, is actually an anticonvulsant. Lead researcher in the field of pain medications, Dr. Scott S. Reuben plead guilty to research fraud involving falsifying more than 20 studies. Included in his crimes were falsification of studies on Lyrica, otherwise known as Pregabalin.

    Lyrica is known to cause weight gain, dizziness, swelling and sleepiness.

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    Neurontin

    An anti-seizure medication prescribed to FMS patients, this drug underwent a class-action lawsuit in February 2010, when patients reported severe weight gain, grogginess and decreasing mobility. They claimed the risks and side effects were understated by the company. Also known as gabapentin, neurontin is still available to patients.

    A lawsuit was filed in 2004 against the producer of the generic version (gabapentin). Statements related to the lawsuits suggest that these medication have only limited helpfulness in the treatment of pain and only for a very small amount of patients.

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    Cymbalta

    Though other anti-depressants have been prescribed to fibromyalgia patients to help combat pain, Cymbalta is the only one that is FDA-approved for that specific use. The drug, made by Eli Lily, has come under fire from critics, in much the same way other fibromyalgia drugs have.

    Some patients have reported a significant difference in pain levels, however, so this drug is the least criticized of the FMS drugs. A few known side effects of Cymbalta are stomach upset, nausea and headache.

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    Savella

    FDA-approved to treat fibromayalgia, this drug has also come under fire. With a claim of causing ‘dangerously high blood pressure,' in January 2010 a call by a consumer advocacy group was made to recall Savella. The group pointed out that the drug failed to meet the drug company’s own standards for success in testing.

    The generic form of this drug is milnacipran.

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    Summary

    Because the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, it is very much a process of trial and error to find what works and doesn’t work for any given patient. Though some medications are effective in helping some patients, nothing works for all patients. The advice for patients to become very involved in their own care is wise for those patients with FMS, given the known problems related to medications for fibromyalgia.

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    References

    Treating Fibromyalgia Pain: Medication Options. 5 types of medications to help ease fibromyalgia symptoms. Fibromyalgia Health Center. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/features/treating-fibromyalgia-pain-medication-options?page=2

    Fraud Case Rocks Anesthesiology Community. Adam Marcus. March 2009. Volume 35:3. Anesthesiology News. http://www.anesthesiologynews.com/index.asp?section_id=3&show=dept&article_id=12634&ses=ogst

    Anti-seizure drug promotion faces legal fire. CBS News. Last updated February 22, 2010. http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2010/02/22/gabapentin-neurotonin-lawsuit.html

    Group Urges Recall of Drug for Fibromyalgia. Matthew Perrone. Business/Technology. Seattle Times. January 10, 2010. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2010840314_apuspaindrugfdapetition.html?syndication=rss