November 13, 2019

FDA Panel Rejects Xyrem as Fibromyalgia Treatment

WebMD reports that the United States Food and Drug Administration has rejected a drug called Xyrem as a treatment for fibromyalgia.  Although public comments (primarily from users testing the drug as part of the manufacturer’s trials) supported approval, and the FDA physicians acknowledge that the drug can reduce pain, the FDA advisory panel rejected the drug because of its similarity to GHB – the so-called “date rape” drug.

According to the FDA, Xyrem, or sodium oxybate, “is much better than the stuff you get on the street, and that is the problem.  Approving it for such a large patient population — 5 million people are estimated to suffer from fibromyalgia — would risk flooding the streets with a pharmaceutical-grade version of the highly controlled substance.

Xyrem is currently available for the treatment of narcolepsy.  It is a central nervous system depressant.

2 separate studies show that women suffering from fibromyalgia are not seeking appropriate treatment

We have all heard the old adage that men are from mars and women are from Venus.  It is true that men and women may approach some things very differently.  One of the areas that these gender differences exist in is in how men and women deal with pain associated with a chronic condition.  I was amazed this week when I came across two wholly unrelated articles discussing how women, who are more likely to suffer from a painful condition such as fibromyalgia, are also much more likely to dismiss their pain and not seek a proper diagnosis or treatment.  There were a variety of reasons as to why they did not seek medical advice about their pain; however, one common thread seemed to be that they felt they would not be taken seriously by a professional and that they could manage it on their own.  It seems that it is important for women to recognize that pain, especially chronic pain like that associated with fibromyalgia, is a medical condition, not simply a state of mind.

One of the articles, from the Black Women’s Health Alliance and detailed on PRNewswire, discussed a study conducted in Pennsylvania which found that many of the state’s women suffered from chronic pain but did not seek help for it.  Specifically, the study found that two-thirds of Pennsylvania women suffer from chronic pain, and over half of them do not seek treatment for their pain, even when it is so severe that they have trouble completely daily tasks or working.  When asked why they would not get treated, a majority of the women stated it was because they felt that insurance companies would not cover treatment for pain, unlike more traditional conditions, such as heart disease.  Additionally, the women felt that the pain was not something to worry about and that it could be handled privately.

The other article, from Pain Medicine News, discussed how twice as many women as men feel that they are not being taken seriously when they complain about their pain.  This perceived lack of sympathy often causes these women to refrain from seeking medical treatment even though their condition often impairs their daily activities and work environment/ability to work.  What is even more troubling is that fibromyalgia impacts seven times more women than men, so not only are more women not seeking help for their pain, but more women are suffering from a serious chronic condition and are not seeking help!  Fortunately, some researchers, medical writers, and health professionals have launched a website, www.healthywomen.org , to address these issues and educate women on fibromyalgia and pain management.  It provides references for doctors who specialize in treating fibromyalgia and how women can fully engage in their daily lives.

Knowing that this painful condition we call fibromyalgia is real and not something to be taken lightly is the first step to getting the necessary treatment.  Once you know what you are dealing with, you can then take the necessary steps to get the right therapy for you, file for social security disability benefits if you can no longer work due to your condition, and generally manage your life better.  Although men and women are very different, this type of chronic pain can impact us all the same.  It is important to seek help and educate yourself so that you can live the healthiest life possible.

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Treatment

The influence of alternative medicine in today’s health management practices cannot be ignored. Whether it is because a particular therapy has stopped working or because someone desires a more natural, less invasive treatment, Western medicine has had to adapt to the increasing use of alternative, supplemental remedies. One of the most prevalent of these practices has acupuncture for fibromyalgia treatmentbeen acupuncture. A Chinese treatment where small, thin needles are inserted into various parts of the body, acupuncture is thought to restore energy pathways that flow through the body. By placing the needles on different places on the body and along these pathways, a person’s health is restored and pain is more effectively managed. Now, even pediatric patients can reap the benefits of acupuncture at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The idea is to help these young patients better manage pain associated with chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia and cancer.

Researchers have noted that effective pain management for children is scarce and there are very few options available. They also explain that over seventy percent of pediatric patients experience pain as a side effect of a chronic illness, and note that there is no adequate relief. The doctors at Rush wanted to find a treatment option that did not rely on the use of pain medications, due to the serious and debilitating side effects associated with their use. The National Institute of Health published a statement acknowledging acupuncture’s positive effect on the treatment of nausea following chemotherapy, migraines, and fibromyalgia. Often, the practice is only used in adults, with fantastic results.

Some pediatric studies have found that both the pediatric patients and their parents have commented on how relaxing and beneficial acupuncture was. Rush is offering the therapy to patients, between the aged of five and twenty, who are experiencing pain. They will receive eight acupuncture therapies, administered by a licensed practitioner. It is the hope of the Rush medical community that acupuncture will help patients from the onset of the disease, thereby positively affecting their quality of life. Although acupuncture will not cure the underlying disease, it may help patients to complete daily tasks with more ease. Many people with chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia are in so much pain that even the smallest task becomes monumental. In fact, many are unable to work because they cannot get through the work day due to the pain. Even if you are in this situation and must file for social security benefits due to your condition, you may still consider acupuncture therapy. Make certain that your treatments are documented and that you discuss the therapy with your treating physician first. Once you are given the okay, find a licensed acupuncturist and enjoy having your energy realigned and pain diminished.