New Drug Stirs Debate Over Disease's Existence

Widely advertised Lyrica treats fibromyalgia, but some docs raise red flags
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Jan 14, 2008 4:20 PM CST
The world headquarters of Pfizer Inc., the world's largest pharmaceutical company, is shown in this April 12, 2005, file photo in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The first drug approved by the FDA to treat fibromyalgia is raising questions, but not the typical ones about whether the medication works. They're questions about whether the disease even exists. Lyrica sales are up and climbing, but critics say giving a name to the chronic pain that characterizes fibromyalgia lends the diagnosis undeserved legitimacy, the New York Times reports.

Other companies are preparing similar drugs, and people diagnosed with the condition hail the approval as a step toward bringing an undertreated disease into the mainstream: with the FDA's action, "my pain became real to people," said one patient. Critics, including the doctor who defined the disease, say it's psychological. The doc says his team "thought that we had actually identified a disease, which this clearly is not."