Pfizer's Top Selling Drug Doesn't Help Patients With Lower Back Pain

Published: Dec 15, 2014

Pfizer's Top Selling Drug Doesn't Help Patients With Lower Back Pain
December 11, 2014
By Krystle Vermes, Breaking News Staff

A study published in the journal Neurology on Dec. 10 revealed that Pfizer’s drug, Lyrica, is not effective in controlling back pain. The medication was compared to a placebo in the study for the treatment of lower back pain in patients.

The small study, which examined 29 people over the age of 50, were given Lyrica to determine how it could potentially reduce their lower back pain. The drug, also known as pregabalin, is already approved for pain treatment caused by shingles and diabetes. However, it is not approved for the treatment of spinal stenosis, which is can be responsible for lower back pain.

By the end of the study, the researchers concluded that Lyrica was not any more effective than a placebo when it comes to treating the symptoms of chronic lower back pain.

“The core issue is we’re still looking for effective therapies for nerve pain that comes from the spine,” John Markman, lead author, told Bloomberg. “That is by far the most common reason folks seek care for pain.”

Pfizer won a court case in February that blocks generic versions of Lyrica until 2018. However, this most recent study may cast doubt on the drug as a whole.

"Given the cost and potential side effects associated with pregabalin, it is critical that we understand the efficacy of this drug," Markman said in the study, according to Medical Xpress. "This study convincingly demonstrates a lack of relief with pregabalin for the walking pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis."

The Wide Use of Pregabalin
Lyrica is not only being used for chronic back pain, but for a wide variety of ailments, including fibromyalgia, diabetic nerve pain, shingles, and the partial onset of seizures. Lyrica is thought to work by calming the damaged or overactive nerves within the body that cause pain. Lyrica’s exact mechanism of action is unknown.

In February 2013, Pfizer released the results of a clinical trial that showed that Lyrica was able to benefit patients who experience partial onset seizures, achieving at least a 50 percent reduction in a 28-day seizure rate.

Pfizer also released the results of two phase 3b studies in October 2013 that showed how Lyrica could positively impact individuals living with fibromyalgia and diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

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