Pfizer's Lyrica booms on iffy diagnosis

Is fibromyalgia an ill-gotten label that could only benefit drug companies? Or is it a real disease that needs treatment? Judging by the abrupt rise in prescriptions for the Pfizer drug Lyrica since it was approved for fibromyalgia treatment in June, it's real. But doctors are still arguing. Even the physician who initially identified the problem now say he doesn't think it's a true disorder

Meanwhile, patient advocates are hoping that widespread drug treatment will legitimize the disease rather than vice versa. Just as Prozac brought depression out of the closet, so might Lyrica for fibromyalgia.

That, of course, would only be to Pfizer's benefit. An estimated 10 million American adults suffer from the disorder. That's not quite the 15 million who suffer from depression each year, but it's plenty. Already, worldwide sales of Lyrica grew by 50 percent in 2007, and analysts expect further growth of some 30 percent in 2008--even as Eli Lilly and Forest Laboratories prepare to launch their own fibromyalgia remedies, probably later this year.

- read this article from the New York Times

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