In a new study entitled “The Effect of a Novel form of Extended-Release Gabapentin on Pain and Sleep in Fibromyalgia Subjects: An Open-Label Pilot Study” researchers showed that administration of the drug gabapentin (in an extended-release approach), initially prescribed as an anti-epilepsy medication, relieved fibromyalgia-associated pain symptoms and improved fibromyalgia patients’ quality of life. The study was published in the journal Pain Practice.
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a condition characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened and painful response to pressure. It is a disabling condition affecting approximately 2% of the United States population, with a higher prevalence among females.
Previous studies reported that an anti-epilepsy medication – Gabapentin (gabapentin immediate release [G-IR]) – is efficient to relief FM pain (reported decreases of 30 to 40%). However, despite its efficacy and safety, G-IR has a short half-life (i.e., the amount of time required for a compound to fall to half of its initial value) and there is a need for frequent dosing.
Currently, it was developed a new extended-release formulation of gabapentin – G-GR (gastroretentive gabapentin) – based on a gastric retention strategy to promote a steady release of gabapentin during its time in the stomach (approximately 10 hours before being broken down into a healthy dietary fiber).
In this study, authors investigated the efficacy of G-GR to manage FM pain using the Numeric Pain Rating System (NPRS), an 11–point scale for patient self- reporting of pain. A total of 29 patients with FM enrolled in this study and were given an extended-release gabapentin starter pack and treated for a total of 12 weeks. By the end of week 4, patients already reported a significant pain relief on the NPRS. Furthermore, authors also found significant improvement in Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) scores, observing that patients experienced improved quality-of-life, including better sleep quantity (on average, and additional 1.2 hours).
Therefore, the team highlights that although their study has limitations (it was not a randomized controlled study and the sample size was small) it suggests that G-GR is effective against FM pain and improves patients’ quality of life. However, a larger randomized controlled study is necessary to confirm these findings.