Health Alert: Fibromyalgia treatments

(Columbia) Oct. 10, 2003 - Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that affects mostly women of childbearing age. There are no specific drugs to treat it, but help is on the way.

For more than 20 years Elizabeth Tross-Deamer suffered the pain of Fibromyalgia. She says her pain subsided when she started taking Pregabalin, a new medication, "The memory is better. My relationships are better. People like me a lot more."

For the first time in years, the wine author can sleep at night, giving her back energy and stamina during the day.

Bernadine Smith took a different drug, Milnacipran, and had similar results, "I didn't have as much depression. I wasn't as fatigued."

Doctor Philip Mease is testing both drugs in separate studies, "At least a third of the patients in both trials have experienced, roughly, a 50 percent reduction in pain."

He says the drugs come from different families. Pregabalin is a pain reliever, and Milnacipran is an anti-depressant, "What both of these medications are doing are restoring to a more natural balance to the neuro-chemicals in the brain that are off kilter in this condition."

Both drugs are still in trials, but for Elizabeth and Bernadine, the verdict is already in.

The most common side effects in the Pregablin trial were mild dizziness, which went away as drug use continued. For Milnacipran, it was nausea. Pregabalin could be approved next year. Milnacipran will likely be approved in two years.

posted 1:30pm by Chris Rees