The Big Three Fibro Meds!

First an announcement!

Please note: I’ve been working for a few months on setting up a telephone support group for those interested. The idea is to have it weekly for 45 minutes to one hour. I could speak on a topic and then there would be plenty of time for questions and answers. The nice part is that all conferences will be recorded and e-mailed to you after the call.  If interested, please e-mail me at and write support group in the description.

Tentatively:  Every Tuesday:          6 PM Pacific

                                                            7 PM Mountain      

                                                            8 PM Central

                                                            9 PM Eastern

Lets speak a bit about the Fibromyalgia drugs on the market. Please keep in mind that Pharmaceutical companies are businesses whose job is to sell meds. These are the three most Common which you hear about.

Lyrica: This is the med you see constantly advertised on television. In fact these days, it has almost become synonymous with Fibromyalgia. So what is Lyrica?

Lyrica is a trade name for Pregabalin, an anti-seizure medication. It is marketed by Pfizer. When the drug was filed with the FDA, it was written up as a help for diabetic pain, neuralgia, epilepsy and Fibromyalgia. Lyrica is one of four drugs which a subsidiary of Pfizer in 2009 pleaded guilty to misbranding “with the intent to defraud or mislead”. Pfizer agreed to pay $2.3 billion  in settlement. Usually you would start on low doses and the effects are supposed to be felt in approximately one week. It appears to help some people, however many others report a whole plethora of side effects causing them to discontinue it’s use. One thing that is important is that if you have been taking Lyrica for a longer period of time, it is essential to not abruptly stop as it can lead to many withdrawal symptoms, including seizures.

Lyrica should not be taken if you have kidney disease, diabetes, congestive heart failure, depression with suicidal thoughts  or bleeding disorders.

Commonly reported side effects are

  • muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness (especially if you also have a fever and feel tired);
  • easy bruising or bleeding; or
  • swelling in your hands or feet, rapid weight gain.
  • dizziness or drowsiness, anxiety;
  • loss of balance or coordination;
  • problems with memory or concentration;
  • dry mouth;
  • skin rash;
  • constipation, stomach pain;
  • increased appetite; or
  • joint or muscle pain.

Cymbalta: This is probably the second most common drug you see advertised for Fibromyalgia. Cymbalta is the trade name and is produced by Ely Lilly. It’s real name is Duloxetine.

Cymbalta is a serotonin-nonepinephrine re-uptake inhibitor, meaning that it is an anti-depressant medication. It was marketed at one time for urinary incontinence, but failed to show any improvement and was not okay-ed by the FDA. It sometimes will help those with nerve pain and Fibromyalgia, but others cannot tolerate it and it’s side effects.

Side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat or runny nose
  • A decreased sex drive 
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Coughing
  • Shakiness (tremors)
  • Muscle pain
  • Sexual side effects, including ejaculation problems, a decreased sex drive (libido), and orgasm problems 
  • Blurred vision
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Weight loss 
  • Hot flashes
  • Yawning
  • Indigestion or Heartburn
  • Muscle spasms
  • The Flu
  • Abnormal dreams.

Again, if for any reason you decide to stop using Cymbalta, you must gradually stop, no “cold turkeyor you will experience withdrawal symptoms which can include irritability, agitation, dizziness, sensory disturbances,anxiety, confusion, headache, lethargy and possible seizures. You must speak to your doctor when stopping this med.

Savella: The new med on the block, it is sold by Cypress Bioscience and it’s real name is Milnacipran. Savella is like Cymbalta in that it is a serotonin-nonepinephrine re-uptake inhibitor, thus it is an anti-depressant medication. Though it might be sold in other countries, Milnacipran has been only okay-ed in the United States for treatment of Fibromyalgia. As with most Fibromyalgia medications, some people will see some improvement while many others have to stop due to the side effects.

Side effects include:

  • pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest;
  • painful or difficult urination;
  • easy bruising or bleeding, nosebleeds, bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood;
  • severe weakness, seizure (convulsions);
  • chills or goose bumps, memory problems, trouble concentrating,
  • agitation, hallucinations, fast heart rate, overactive reflexes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, fainting;
  • very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out;
  • high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats); or
  • stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
  • Headache;
  • dizziness, drowsiness, tired feeling;
  • swelling in your hands or feet;
  • constipation, upset stomach, bloating;
  • dry mouth;
  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • hot flashes, sweating;
  • weight changes; or
  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.

You must be careful using this med if you have high blood pressure, liver or kidney disease, glaucoma,  a history of suicidal thoughts, or are allergic to aspirin. This is not a complete list, but Blood and Urine Tests should be done regularly. In fact, with all of the meds mentioned in this blog, it is imperative to have regular blood and urine workups.

As with almost all meds, you must not stop “cold turkey” but have a Doctor help to wean you off, otherwise you might have withdrawal effects.

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