Savella May Reduce Pain, Alter Brain Activity in Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Suggests

Savella May Reduce Pain, Alter Brain Activity in Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Suggests
Treatment with Savella (milnacipran, by Allergan) may reduce pain sensitivity and increase activity in pain-related brain regions of patients with fibromyalgia. The study, “Using fMRI to evaluate the effects of milnacipran on central pain processing in patients with fibromyalgia,” appeared in the Scandinavian Journal of Pain. Savella, although not used to treat depression, acts like an antidepressant. It is one of two antidepressant medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat fibromyalgia. Savella, a serotonin-noradrenalin reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), increases the levels of the neutrotransmitters noradrenaline and serotonin in the brain and spinal cord, but the exact mechanisms by which Savella eases fibromyalgia symptoms are still unknown. Studies have demonstrated that pain regulation is impaired in the central nervous system of fibromyalgia patients. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), patients showed higher pain intensities in response to pressure and associated increases in brain activity in pain-related brain areas compared to healthy individuals (controls). Other studies reported reduced activation of the brain's pain inhibitory system when stimulated by pressure. The scientists conducted a 13-week neuroimaging study (EudraCT # 2004-004249-16) to evaluate the effects of Savella at 200 mg/day on pressure pain sensitivity in 92 women with fibromyalgia. They also measured the medication's effect on brain processing of pressure-evoked pain and assessed the treatment’s tolerability and safety. The double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial included patients ages 18-55 who had a baseline mean pain intensity score of at least 40 on a visual analog scale, where 0 means no pain and 100 is the str
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