Naltrexone Linked to Improved Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Small crossover study included 10 women; six were classified as responders to the drug

WEDNESDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) may be useful in treating fibromyalgia, according to research published online April 22 in Pain Medicine.

Jarred Younger, Ph.D., and Sean Mackey, M.D., of the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif., analyzed data from 10 women with fibromyalgia who went through a single-blind crossover trial with two weeks of reporting symptom severity with no treatment; two weeks of placebo; eight weeks of daily low-dose naltrexone (4.5 milligrams); and a two-week washout period with no treatment.

Overall, the treatment reduced fibromyalgia symptoms by 30.2 percent above placebo in the group, the investigators found. During placebo and treatment phases, symptoms were reduced by 2.3 and 32.5 percent, respectively. Six subjects were classified as drug responders. Baseline erythrocyte sedimentation rate predicted more than 80 percent of variance in response to the drug, the researchers report.

"Fibromyalgia is a costly condition, both in terms of lost productivity, and the cost of available treatments. LDN is an inexpensive drug, with total costs usually running under $40 per month. There are several additional advantages to LDN. The drug is easily dosed, with a once-a-day schedule. Side-effects are infrequent and mild," the authors write. "We conclude that LDN is a drug that should be researched more thoroughly for the treatment of fibromyalgia, and perhaps more generally for conditions associated with elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate."

The American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association provided financial support for the study.

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