Drug Combo May Improve Care for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is an insidious disease that often compromises physical and mental health. Canadian researchers now believe a combination drug regimen can help to provide pain relief, improve physical function, and enhance quality of life.

The disease is a chronic condition characterized by chronic widespread pain and typically accompanied by fatigue, as well as sleep, mood, and memory problems.

In the new study, Queen’s University researcher Ian Gilron, uncovered a more effective way of treating the disease by combining two drugs that have been used individually for the condition.

Gilron combined pregabalin (brand name Lyrica), an anti-seizure drug, with duloxetine (Cymbalta), an antidepressant. He discovered the combo treatment can safely improve outcomes in fibromyalgia, including not only pain relief, but also physical function and overall quality of life.

“Previous evidence supports added benefits with some drug combinations in fibromyalgia,” Gilron said. “We are very excited to present the first evidence demonstrating superiority of a duloxetine-pregabalin combination over either drug alone.”

Fibromyalgia was initially thought to be a musculoskeletal disorder. Research now suggests it’s a disorder of the central nervous system — the brain and spinal cord. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the level and activity of brain chemicals responsible for processing pain signals.

The condition affects about 1.5 to five percent of Canadians and Americans — and more than twice as many women as men.

“It can have a devastating on the lives of patients and their families,” said Gilron. “Current treatments for fibromyalgia are either ineffective or intolerable for many patients.”

This study is the latest in a series of clinical trials that Gilron and his colleagues have conducted on combination therapies for chronic pain conditions.

By identifying and studying promising drug combinations, their research is showing how physicians can make the best use of current treatments available to patients.

“The value of such combination approaches is they typically involve drugs that have been extensively studied and are well known to health-care providers,” Gilron said.

This new research was published in the journal Pain.

Source: Queens University