This week’s fibromyalgia and ME/CFS news (week of August 17, 2015)

rp_newsgraphic-1024x6201-1024x620-1024x6201-1024x6201-1024x620-1024x6201-1024x6201-1024x6201-1024x620-1024x620.jpgTop stories …

Cymbalta drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co. has won round two against hundreds of patients who claim they weren’t properly warned of the antidepressant’s withdrawal symptoms. Cymbalta is one of three U.S. FDA-approved drugs commonly prescribed to treat fibromyalgia. A California judge halted plaintiff Erin Hexum’s trial against Eli Lilly last week after he learned that her doctor hadn’t read Cymbalta’s product warning label, and therefore couldn’t have advised Hexum of Cymbalta’s side effects. This is the second trial related to Cymbalta’s withdrawal symptoms heard this month in California. The first one ended in a jury ruling for Eli Lilly. Two more related trials are scheduled for later this month.

This month’s meeting of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee will be live-video streamed on Aug. 18-19, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. eastern time. It also will be available via telephone at 888-455-5629 passcode 9717791#.

Drug companies are going to make a fortune off of fibromyalgia (like they haven’t already): Market Research Reports indicates the treatment market value for fibromyalgia across the U.S., U.K., Japan, France, Germany and other top markets will reach $1.9 billion by 2023.

#MEAction has launched a lobbying campaign to encourage the U.S. Congress to increase research funding for ME/CFS at the National Institutes of Health. The organization is seeking patient advocates in certain U.S. states (Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Wyoming, Michigan [certain areas] and New Jersey [certain areas] who can phone into 30-minute meetings on Capitol Hill.

Research news …

A DePaul University (U.S.) and Newcastle University (U.K.) study explores the question: Are myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome different illnesses?

The Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia, is recruiting fibromyalgia patients for a double-blind study to investigate the clinical potential of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS), a non-invasive treatment that uses magnetic fields to stimulate neurons in the brain.

Two U.S. experts on ME/CFS, Dr. Lucinda Bateman from the Bateman Horne Center and researcher Dr. Suzanne D. Vernon, are partnering to quantify diagnostic criteria recommended earlier this year by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tonix Pharmaceuticals Holding Co. is still recruiting fibromyalgia patients for its phase 3 AFFIRM clinical study of Tonmya (cyclobenzaprine HCl sublingual tablets, 2.8 mg), a new potential drug that might improve pain and sleep quality.

A Japanese study has found that pregabalin (aka Lyrica) improves sleep and pain in patients with chronic lower back pain and neuropathic pain. Here’s a link to the actual study, which was funded by Pfizer, Lyrica’s manufacturer.

And just so you know that you’re not alone: Most U.S. adults experience some form of physical pain, according to the results of the National Health Interview Study.

Odds and ends …

As a follow-up to last week’s news roundup, here are a few more details on the British Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME’s new therapy and symptom management guide.

Columnist Arlene Grau explains what it’s like when even a disability judge doesn’t believe you’re really sick.

They say laughter is the best medicine …

There’s nothing funny about being tired and in pain all the time, or is there? Here are the “Top 10 Song Titles that Capture Chronic Pain and Illness.”

Have you watched “Cake,” the movie starring actress Jennifer Aniston who plays a woman living with severe chronic pain? Then you might enjoy this sometimes-humorous list of “198 Thoughts I Had While Watching ‘Cake’” by columnist Crystal Lindell.

Off-topic …

If you’re craving a sweet treat that still has some nutritional value, you might want to try these 5-ingredient Raw Coconut Macaroons. Super easy to make, and they’re freezable!

Did you catch this video of the world’s largest great white shark ever caught on camera?

Starbucks is changing the recipe for its ever-popular seasonal drink, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, to include (gasp!) … real pumpkin.

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  1. When the hidden facts of Cymbalta’s approval are revealed (Gotzsche, ‘Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime’), you’d worry. The FDA refused a request for safety data “Some clinical trial data are considered trade secrets, or commercially protected information”. An FoI request by Brit Med Jnl showed 13 suicides reported – but 5 known cases of participants in trials were missing.
    A lawyer’s skiting at the killer cross-examination in Lilly follows: “The plaintiff’s case got worse when the doctor admitted he had no memory of reading the Cymbalta label, which warned of the risk of discontinuation and recommended tapering off the dosage.
    “You don’t typically read the package inserts for the drugs that you
    prescribe, correct?” Schmidt asked.
    “I don’t read the package inserts cover to cover, certainly,” Wollaston said.
    “Do you have a specific recollection of ever reviewing a package insert
    for Cymbalta?”
    “I don’t have a specific recollection on that, no.”

    • I think you’re right … there is probably more to this story. It’ll be interesting to see how these upcoming court cases shake out.

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