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New treatment for fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic, incapacitating musculoskeletal disorder. Nearly six times more common in women than in men, fibromyalgia is marked by widespread body pain and muscle tenderness, often accompanied by headaches, sleep disturbances, and fatigue. While its cause remains a mystery, fibromyalgia has been linked to abnormalities in the brain's neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine--chemicals key to mood and widely recognized for their role in depression. Not all patients with fibromyalgia, however, have depression or respond to antidepressants. Treatment studies of the other types of antidepressant drugs, including selective serotonin uptake inhibitors and tricyclic agents, have had mixed results.

A new and different antidepressant, duloxetine, works by inhibiting the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine. In a recent clinical trial conducted for the treatment of fibromyalgia--one of the largest ever--duloxetine was shown to reduce pain and improve a range of disease symptoms, significantly and safely. The results, published in the September 2004 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, offer the promise of relief for women with fibromyalgia.

"Our results suggest that duloxetine improves pain and tenderness, the hallmark characteristics of fibromyalgia," states Lesley M. Arnold, M.D., who coordinated the research at 18 centers, including the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Indiana University Medical School, and Harvard Medical School. "The effect of duloxetine on the reduction of pain," Dr. Arnold further notes, "appears to be independent of its effect on mood."

To test duloxetine's effectiveness on the range of symptoms, researchers recruited 207 patients, all meeting the American College of Rheumatology criteria for fibromyalgia. Like the majority of those with this disease, the majority of the participants--89 percent--were women. 87 percent of the subjects were Caucasian and the mean age was 49. J
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Contact: Amy Molnar
amolnar@wiley.com
201-748-8844
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
9-Sep-2004


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