Two drugs commonly prescribed for fibromyalgia – Lyrica and Cymbalta – are more effective in treating the disorder when used together, according to a new study by Canadian researchers.
Lyrica (pregabalin) is an anti-seizure nerve drug, while Cymbalta (duloxetine) works primarily as an anti-depressant. Both have been used for years to treat fibromyalgia — a poorly understood disorder characterized by deep tissue pain, fatigue, insomnia, and mood swings. Until now no one has studied how effective the two drugs could be when used in combination.
“We are very excited to present the first evidence demonstrating superiority of a duloxetine-pregabalin combination over either drug alone,” said lead author Ian Gilron, MD, Director of Clinical Pain Research at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
“The results of this trial suggest that combining pregabalin with duloxetine can safely improve outcomes in fibromyalgia including pain relief, physical function and overall quality of life.”
This was a small study – only 41 fibromyalgia patients participated – and the researchers admit that larger trials are needed to see if the results can be replicated. The new research was published in the journal Pain.
The study is the latest in a series of clinical trials — funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research — which Gilron and his colleagues have conducted on combination therapies for chronic pain conditions. By studying promising drug combinations, they hope to show physicians how to make the best use of current treatments.
“The value of such combination approaches is they typically involve drugs that have been extensively studied and are well known to health-care providers,” says Gilron.