Okay, it may be a little much to suggest that the development of a single new drug could be life-changing for fibro patients. Nevertheless, as a Spoonie myself, I’m pretty stoked to hear about this new medication that’s been making waves in testing, and you should be too. Currently, the drug is called IMC-1, and the reason why I’m so interested in this is because it is so unlike other medications used to treat Fibromyalgia symptoms.
For those of you who don’t know, Fibromyalgia is a Central Nervous System disorder in which the patient’s nerves are hypervigiliant… meaning they are turned “on” all the time. This causes a plethora of symptoms, but the most common tend to be widespread muscle and joint pain, allodynia (hypersensitivity to touch), Irritable Bowel Syndrome, chronic fatigue/ insomnia, cognitive dysfunction (often called “Fibro Fog”), and depression/ anxiety.
Fibromyalgia is generally very difficult to treat with medication because 1) the symptoms spread across such a wide range and 2) the principle problem- the pain- does not generally respond to any type of pain medication. Doctors have tried to work around this problem by prescribing SSRI drugs, which are more commonly referred to as anti-depressants. In theory, anti-depressants help calm the nervous system down, while managing the psychological symptoms of the condition and helping to regulate the sleep cycle. All of this is intended to lower the patient’s pain to manageable levels.
The problem with anti-depressants is that they can have a multitude of nasty side effects. They can cause neurological problems (shaking in the extremities, cognitive difficulties, etc.), changes in mood or personality (some of which are occasionally permanent), nausea, increased fatigue, etc. The list goes on. Anti-depressants also run the risk of dependency.
What makes IMC-1 different is that it is NOT an antidepressant, it is an antiviral medication. Specifically, a combination of the antiviral famciclovir, which is used to treat herpes infections, and the anti-inflammatory celecoxib (you probably know it as Celebrex… popular with arthritis patients). In the initial studies, at least half of the patients taking the drug reported a 30% decrease in pain, and up to 38% of patients reported a 50% decrease in pain. Fatigue- perhaps the second most difficult symptom to manage, apart from the pain- is also shown to have significantly improved in the test groups.
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