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This Time Last Year, April 9-14 & 2-8

Year_reviewApril 9 to 14

Broadway Play Examines Issues of Illness
An insightful and moving New York Times article describes the blurred lines between wellness and illness shown in the play Well. An excerpt: “‘. . . [W]henever the cause of an illness is mysterious, it’s assumed to come from psychological problems or a moral weakness? And once science finally figures out the medical root of the illness, that assumption disappears.'”

Partnering With Your Health Care Provider
Recognizing your relationship with your health care providers as a partnership is a way to feel empowered and get the most useful information from your doctor.

Too Much Sleep as Headache Trigger
Sleeping in can relieve a migraine for me, but sleeping late without a migraine can trigger one.

Lyrica Aids Sleep
In addition to its role as a chronic pain reliever, Lyrica (pregabalin) may also be an effective sleep aid for people with chronic pain. In turn, better sleep may also help relieve chronic pain

Trapped
For the last few years, we’ve gotten season tickets to the theater. . . . I’m filled with anxiety in the days before each show. What if my headache is bad? What if I’m stuck next to someone wearing too much perfume? What if…?

April 2 to April 8

Inconclusive
X-rays showed that the leads of my occipital nerve stimulator hadn’t slipped significantly, but they would certainly slip more.

A Waiting Game
After meeting with my pain specialist and neurosurgeon left me with the simple decision that I should wait and see.

High Frequency & Severity of Migraine in Teens
A nationwide study of 18,714 adolescents found that headaches are causing a lot of disability for kids 12 to 19 years. Researchers found that adolescents’ migraines often go from one or two times a month to 10 to 15 times a month within a couple years.

Trexima Study Presented at AAN Meeting
I first ask the question I posed last week: If the treatment that most accurately compares to Trexima is Imitrex taken simultaneously with naproxen, why wasn’t the combination studied?
My comments about the patent was based on misunderstanding how the process works. See my latest Trexima post for an accurate explanation how it works.

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Lyrica Aids Sleep

In addition to its role as a chronic pain reliever, Lyrica (pregabalin) may also be an effective sleep aid for people with chronic pain. In turn, better sleep may also help relieve chronic pain. These findings were presented at the American Association of Neurologists’ annual meeting.

The results of the study, which was actually a review of findings from 14 previous Lyrica clinical trials, indicated that “pregabalin treatment significantly decreased pain and pain-related sleep disturbances by week 1 in patients with all except those with osteoarthritis. These improvements persisted throughout the trial.”

In my notes from a visit to the headache specialist last spring, I wrote that Lyrica is the first drug that mimics natural sleep patterns. This study is the only place I’ve found support for this claim. The article says that healthy trial participants had significant increases in stages III & IV sleep and woke up less in the night while taking Lyrica vs. a placebo. Have any of you heard anything like this elsewhere?

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A Kinder Look at Lyrica

E-mail etiquette suggests that if you write an angry e-mail, you should not send it immediately so you have a chance to edit the message when you’ve calmed down. Sometimes I wonder if I should follow this rule for posting things on The Daily Headache.

I wrote last night’s post on Lyrica after two days of level 7 pain and I was surly. Everything I wrote does accurately represent my opinion, but there’s more to it. I’ve been excited about this drug ever since my doc told me about it in April. I even gave Pfizer my e-mail address so they could notify me when it was released.

Lyrica shows promising results in clinical trials for relieving pain and aiding sleep. It could well be the first step toward more effective pain meds.

I’m seeing a new headache specialist in about a month and I can guarantee you that I’ll ask about trying Lyrica as a preventive. Skepticism hasn’t kept from trying countless conventional and alternative therapies and it won’t now. Even if I do grumble about it from time to time.

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Lyrica Now Available to Patients

Pfizer announced today that Lyrica (pregabalin) is now available for doctors to prescribe to patients. The drug is indicated for use for neuropathic pain and seizures, but has also shown to improve patients’ sleep patterns. A successor to Neurontin (gabapentin), the two drugs act similarly in the body. Of course the chemical structure is slightly different (and beyond my understanding), but one obvious difference is that Lyrica is more potent, which makes it effective at lower doses. This in turn decreases the likelihood of side effects.

The FDA won’t let Pfizer mention this, but Lyrica, like Neurontin, is likely to be prescribed to headache patients off-label. And, based on a conversation with my headache specialist, it’s a potentially exciting new option for prevention.

Even with his endorsement, I’m a little skeptical. You see, the FDA has approved the manufacturing of gabapentin as a generic. Once the generic is available, sales of Neurontin, also a Pfizer drug, will drop. Lyrica could become to Neurontin like Clarinex is to Claritin.

It’s too soon to tell if Lyrica will be a significant new drug for headache patients or if it will another name-brand moneymaker. For all our sakes, I’ve got my fingers crossed for the first option.

Some interesting details about the drug are also available.