If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chances are your physician has written you a prescription to try at least one of the three drugs – Lyrica, Cymbalta or Savella – currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat fibromyalgia.
And chances are you may have been disappointed when those drugs didn’t work.
Well, here’s what your doctor won’t tell you, or maybe he/she doesn’t even realize: The drugs approved to treat fibromyalgia aren’t much better than sugar pills. The results of several clinical trials support this
In 2007, Lyrica became the first FDA-approved drug for fibro. At the time of the writing of this post, Lyrica’s website reads, “In clinical studies, many patients taking Lyrica had less fibromyalgia pain compared with patients taking a placebo (53% for Lyrica vs. 33% for placebo), so they felt better and could do more.”
But that statistic paints a somewhat distorted picture of Lyrica’s effectiveness, lumping improved patients into one group. Dig a little deeper into Pfizer’s research, and you’ll find the numbers aren’t nearly as impressive. During Pfizer’s first Lyrica trial for fibro:
- Only 20-21 percent of patients experienced at least a 50 percent reduction in pain, depending on the administered dose (dosages ranged from 300-600mg a day).
- Between 34-38 percent reported at least a 30 percent improvement in pain, depending on the dose. On the surface, this sounds ok … until you look at the number of patients who responded in the placebo (i.e. a sugar pill) group. About 27 percent of those patients reported the same 30 percent improvement in pain when taking a placebo! So, Lyrica only outperformed a sugar pill by a few percentage points.
I know Lyrica is a godsend for patients when it works, and I am in no way anti-pharmaceutical, but looking strictly at the numbers, Lyrica’s performance is hardly reliable.
Reading further down into the study, the numbers are even more dismal when you consider that 36 percent of the study’s participants didn’t even complete the trial. Many of those patients dropped out due to adverse side effects, such as dizziness, blurry vision, weight gain, sleepiness, trouble concentrating, swelling of the hands and feet, dry mouth and feeling “high.” (Let me point out that some of these side effects are the very ones we are trying to avoid by taking these medications.)