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Originally published August 7 2008

Drug Companies Push New Medications for Fibromyalgia Via Disease Mongering Campaigns

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Pfizer has launched a television advertising campaign to push its medicine for fibromyalgia, even though the disease's existence is disputed by some doctors.

In the ad, a middle-aged woman reads out loud from her diary, saying, "Today I struggled with my fibromyalgia; I had pain all over." The woman then turns to face the camera and says "Fibromyalgia is a real, widespread pain condition."

Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic and severe pain with no identifiable source. Many fibromyalgia patients also suffer from other often-difficult to define conditions including abnormal sleep patterns, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue, and psychiatric symptoms such as cognitive dysfunction, depression and anxiety.

According to skeptics, the symptoms are nebulous because the term "fibromyalgia" does not describe a real disorder. Many doctors warn that a fibromyalgia diagnosis actually increases a patient's suffering, because it encourages them to focus on minor symptoms that they would have ignored before.

"These people live under a cloud," said Dr. Nortin Hadler of the University of North Carolina. "And the more they seem to be around the medical establishment, the sicker they get."

Brain scans of fibromyalgia patients reveal differences in the way they process pain, but doctors cannot predict the syndrome's occurrence from looking at such scans.

Because fibromyalgia patients often do not respond to conventional pain medicines, even prescription opiates, the FDA approved Pfizer's Lyrica for the condition in June 2007. Lyrica, first approved in 2004 as a treatment for diabetic nerve neuropathy, functions by binding to receptors in the brain that regulate the perception of pain. The mechanism of the drug is not well understood beyond the fact that it reduces the activity of the central nervous system. It is known to have serious side effects, including swelling, weight gain, dizziness and sleepiness.

Following suit, Eli Lilly and Forest Laboratories have both submitted petitions for fibromyalgia drugs to the FDA.

Lyrica sales hit $1.8 billion in 2007, a 50 percent increase over the year before.

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