Health

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Fibromyalgia Medication Draws Praise, Skepticism

January 18, 2008 05:28 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves a medication—Lyrica—to treat fibromyalgia. The existence of this pain syndrome is still under debate.

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“The day that the FDA approved a drug and we had a public service announcement, my pain became real to people,” said Lynne Matallana, president of the National Fibromyalgia Association, in an interview with The New York Times.

Patients like Matallana say they have endured years of tests, and that their discomfort is often compounded by the shame of being told that the pain is all in their head.

Pain and fatigue characterize fibromyalgia. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Lyrica to treat fibromyalgia's symptoms. Advocates say this approval recognizes a condition that has long caused patients pain and frustration.

But some physicians question whether fibromyalgia is a true syndrome. There is no conclusive way to diagnose this condition, which is most likely to affect women between the ages of 30 and 60.

One rheumatologist says diagnosing someone with fibromyalgia can make things worse by enabling the patient to think about themselves in terms of an illness.

“These people live under a cloud,” Nortin Hadler, who practices in North Carolina, told the Times. “And the more they seem to be around the medical establishment, the sicker they get.”

Headline Links: ‘Drug Approved. Is Disease Real?’

Opinion & Analysis: Invisible illness or wastebasket diagnosis?

Background: Fibromyalgia information

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