Posts Tagged ‘Lyrica’

Neurontin making a comeback? Kind of. GlaxoSmithKline is on the cusp of beginning a Phase III clinical trial of a “novel prodrug of gabapentin” (brand name: Neurontin) for the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome and related sleep disturbances. While not every Fibromyalgia sufferer experiences RLS, it’s a common component of the syndrome.

Neurontin was highly prescribed seven to 10 years ago, off label. Then it came out the company marketing it had been lying to doctors about the drug’s off label uses. However, some doctors still prescribe the medicine for FM. In 2007, Pfizer released Lyrica, which is structurally related to Neurontin and is FDA-approved for the treatment of Fibromyalgia.


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From the second Lyrica commerical -- the only one with someone who doesn't look like my grandma. (Not everyone with FM has grey hair!)

The Lyrica commercials help promote Fibromyalgia awareness. But the second spot is the only one featuring someone who doesn't look like my grandma.

When commercials for the Fibromyalgia drug Lyrica started airing on network television, my friends and coworkers started saying, “Hey, I saw a thing about that condition you have.” At first that doesn’t sound like much, but when people can’t see your illness and dismiss it as hypochondria, simple things like this help.

There are even some doctors who don’t “believe in” Fibromyalgia. (I still don’t understand this.) The press that has come as a result of the Lyrica launch and marketing has really helped the FM community. I was pleased to read last week that Pfizer, the manufacturer of Lyrica, is going to devote marketing dollars to promoting Fibromyalgia’s legitimacy. The more people who have heard of our condition, the easier it is for us to be open about our issues and needs.

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I came across an item about Pfizer’s commercials for the Fibromyalgia drug Lyrica on the Schwitzer Health News Blog, written by Gary Schwitzer of the University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communication. He was commenting on how the women in the commericals appear to have a very mild case of Fibromyalgia. I was enjoying his critique (you know my thoughts on the commercials) until I reached the end where there is an insinuation that Fibromyalgia is not a “real” medical condition. The blog links to and excerpts from a New York Times article about the launch of Lyrica, which asks if Fibromyalgia is real.

It’s disheartening to see that so many years after the discovery of Fibromyalgia Syndrome, we still encounter disbelief with such prevalence.

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Take it and you'll fly to Europe to enjoy your pain-free life.

Lyrica: Take it and you'll fly to Europe to fully enjoy your new, pain-free life.

The most recent commercial for Lyrica, the medication for neuropathic pain approved for Fibromyalgia treatment, has an older woman grabbing her shoulder when talking about her Fibro pain (see the video). I don’t know about you, but my shoulder sure isn’t my main point of pain…and is a good four or five inches from the nearest trigger point. While Fibro patients’ symptoms may vary, since when are shoulders a big part of the problem? Forearms, sure. Knees, oh hell yes. Neck, yep. Shoulders, uh, I guess when everything else is amped up, they hurt but nothing compared to those areas with trigger points.

Someone should let Pfizer know that being consistent with a condition’s symptoms in the commercial would help. That, and maybe throwing in a younger woman from time to time. The blog Bee’s Eclectic Life brings up a litany of other problems with the Lyrica advertising, for those of you wanting to delve further.

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Another Neurontin or a real solution?

Lyrica: Another Neurontin or a real solution?

A few months following the FDA approval of Lyrica for the treatment of Fibromyalgia, I brought it up to my doctor at the time. He was eager to give a shot and even had samples for me to take home. He had said I might not feel any different right away and that we might have to play with the dosage.

A month later I got a job two states away. I was so carried away with finding a new house, figuring out how to get the husband, the puppy and a house full of stuff to Texas in two weeks that I wasn’t as focused on the Lyrica. I kept taking it at the low dosage my doctor in Arizona had prescribed. I didn’t notice a giant change.

When I found my current doctor, she was skeptical of Lyrica. She pointed out that it’s spendy for something we’re not sure is really going to do anything. She was more apt to try and get me to use Flexeril more often. (I still just use it case-by-case, because I’m stubborn.) So, I haven’t really given Lyrica a shot.

I have concerns, like a lot of people, about the “off label” use of drugs. Back 10 years ago, I was taking Neurontin coupled with an onslaught of others (the only one I’m still taking is Tramadol). Neurontin, like Lyrica, was a medicine designed for something else—in this case epilepsy. However, doctors were sure that using it with other pain medicine was the answer to decreasing Fibromyalgia patients’ pain levels. After about a year on Neurontin, I decided it wasn’t working. We had played with different medication variations, and I didn’t feel any different without it.

A few years later it’s discovered that the drug company Pfizer was bribing doctors, among other things, to convince them to prescribe Neurontin for off-label uses it knew wouldn’t work. The company ended up pleading guilty to two Federal felonies. Pfizer is the same company that is marketing Lyrica. Maybe it learned a lesson through Neurontin. The company has brought plenty of great drugs to the market, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that they may be preying on Fibromyalgia patients longing for a cure.

So, I am debating whether it’s time to talk to my doctor again about trying the medicine. I don’t think it will be some magic pill, but wonder if it may do something noticeable. Some people say blending Tramadol and Lyrica is a godsend, while others heavily warn against it. Some of the anecdotal evidence I’ve read about the drug says the swelling of appendages, particularly fingers, is not worth the degree of pain recession. I hope my doctor has some real answer to whether Lyrica can help. She’s been right before.

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