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Fibromyalgia Health Center

Sleep Drug May Treat Fibromyalgia Pain

Study Shows Xyrem May Help Fight Pain and Fatigue in Fibromyalgia Patients
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Reducing Fatigue in Fibromyalgia Patients continued...

The most common side effects among people taking Xyrem were headache (15% and 23% of patients in the low- and high-dose groups, respectively), nausea (14% and 21%), and dizziness (13% and 17%).

Xyrem is a central nervous system depressant also known as gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB). GHB, sometimes referred to as the "date-rape drug," has a high potential for abuse.

"But we haven't seen much abuse when the drug is prescribed for narcolepsy," says Daniel J. Clauw, MD, a rheumatologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who was not involved with the study.

"The systems in place to prevent [abuse] seem to be working," he says.

3 Drugs Approved for Fibromyalgia

There are three drugs approved in the U.S. for the treatment of fibromyalgia: Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Savella. None of them works in the same way as Xyrem.

By itself, each drug is effective in about 40% of patients, Clauw tells WebMD.

"So there is clearly room for other drugs with different mechanisms of action. Also, as with any chronic condition, you might get a better response by combining different drugs that work differently," he says. Clauw consults for the makers of all four drugs.

Kristine Thorson, a fibromyalgia patient from Tucson, Ariz., tells WebMD the drug worked when all others failed. "I was able to give up [narcotic painkillers]," she says.

At doses similar to those used in the treatment of narcolepsy, Xyrem can cost $500 a month.

Jazz Pharmaceuticals Inc., which makes the drug and funded the study, has applied for FDA approval for use of Xyrem in treating fibromyalgia.

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