Savella for Fibromyalgia Treatment
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition. It can cause a range of troubling symptoms, from pain to fatigue. In the past, few options were available to manage this condition. Now, new medications such as Savella (milnacipran HCI) are providing renewed hope. Savella is the third medication approved to help manage fibromyalgia.
What Is Savella?
Savella is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It is similar to drugs used to treat depression and other psychiatric disorders. In January 2009, the FDA approved Savella to help manage fibromyalgia in adults. Available by prescription, it is the first drug introduced just for this purpose. Previous drugs approved to manage fibromyalgia include Lyrica (pregabalin), a nerve pain and epilepsy drug, and Cymbalta (duloxetine), another SNRI.
How Savella Works
With fibromyalgia, you may have a lower threshold for pain. Experts believe this may result from changes in your nervous system. These changes may cause you to be more sensitive to pain. This could result from the wrong levels of neurotransmitters. These are chemicals in your brain.
Savella allows more of these neurotransmitters to travel from neuron to neuron. It is not exactly clear how Savella works. But increasing levels of neurotransmitters may ease pain and reduce fatigue or help with memory. However, not all these benefits have been tested in humans.
How Do You Take Savella?
Savella is a tablet. You take Savella in two divided doses each day. You start at 12.5 milligrams on the first day. Then you increase to 100 milligrams/day over a one-week period. Although the recommended dose is 100 milligrams/day, your doctor may increase it to 200 milligrams/day, based on your response to the medication.
Your doctor may recommend the following regimen for taking Savella:
- Day 1: 12.5 milligrams once
- Days 2-3: 25 milligrams/day (12.5 milligrams twice daily)
- Days 4-7: 50 milligrams/day (25 milligrams twice daily)
- After Day 7: 100 milligrams/day (50 milligrams twice daily)
Do not suddenly stop taking Savella.
What Are the Benefits of Savella for Fibromyalgia?
Clinical trials have reported improvements in twice as many of those taking Savella as those taking placebo. These improvements were reported in measurements of pain, fatigue and mental state.
Before FDA approval, clinical trials of more than 2,000 patients reported improvements in many of those taking Savella. A larger number of patients using Savella than placebo had at least a 30% reduction in pain. They also rated their fibromyalgia either very much improved or much improved.
What Are the Potential Side Effects of Savella?
In trials of Savella, the most common side effect was nausea.
These are other common mild-to-moderate side effects of Savella:
- hot flush or excessive sweating
- palpitations or increased heart rate
- dry mouth
- high blood pressure