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Fibromyalgia Health Center

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Sleep Drug May Treat Fibromyalgia Pain

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

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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