Approximately 390,000 Canadians have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, according to the latest available national figures.* As of May 12, 2009, the drug pregabalin (trade name Lyrica®) is available for prescription to fibromyalgia (FM) patients. May 12 honors the birth date of Florence Nightingale – "the mother of modern nursing," also believed to be an FM/ME/CFS sufferer.
In the U.S., pregabalin became the first drug to win FDA approval as an FM treatment in 2007.
FM – Considered a Disorder of Central Nervous System Pain Processing
“Patients with fibromyalgia report pain at much lower levels of stimulus than those without the condition, which has been confirmed in several studies, including technology with advanced functional MRI scanning of the brain. It is as if the "volume control" for pain is turned up," notes Dr. Gordon D. Ko, Medical Director of the Canadian Centre for Integrative Medicine and Consultant in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto. "Now that there is a viable and effective treatment option available, there is hope that this will change and those who suffer from fibromyalgia will find relief from their pain."
What is Pregabalin?
According to the drug’s maker – Pfizer, Canada – pregabalin (Lyrica) is:
“An analgesic agent that selectively binds to a specific sub-unit of calcium channels that modulates nerve transmission in the brain and spinal cord, thereby reducing the activity of hyper-excited nerve cells involved in pain.
“This mechanism restores nerve cell function to more normal levels. The safety of Lyrica for fibromyalgia has been established in 3,446 patients (controlled and uncontrolled studies) and has a favorable safety profile.
“The most common treatment-related adverse events (greater than or equal to) 5% and twice the rate of that seen in placebo) in controlled clinical studies in fibromyalgia were: dizziness, somnolence, weight gain, dry mouth, blurred vision, peripheral edema, constipation, and disturbance in attention. Adverse events were usually mild to moderate in intensity.
“Lyrica is also indicated for the management of neuropathic pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) and postherpetic [shingles] neuralgia (PHN).
“It is approved, with conditions, for the use in management of central neuropathic pain (CNeP). This includes nerve pain associated with conditions such as spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease.”
* Extracted from the Statistics Canada datafile for the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey by Margaret Parlor, President of Canada’s National ME/FM Action Network. Specifically, reports Parlor, of the 390,000 people then diagnosed with FM, 25% were younger than 45; more than 50% were ages 45-64; and 20% were 65 or older. More than 80% were female.
Sources: Pfizer Canada news release, May 12, 2009; National ME/FM Action Network release, May 11, 2009.