According to a new study of Savella (milnacipran) for the treatment of fibromyalgia, patients who continue treatment can get long-term pain relief – to at least three years. These findings were reported by Lesley Arnold, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in a poster presentation at the recent annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.
Savella, the third drug to be approved for treating fibromyalgia, received its FDA approval in January 2009. This is the first study showing its long-term efficacy.
Study Design and Results
This was a four-phase clinical trial that originally included 1,268 patients. Similar relief was achieved by the 820 who took Savella for one year, the 462 who completed two years and the 217 who continued for three years.
In the original group, 1,212 patients achieved a mean decrease of 17.6 points in their Visual Analogue Pain Weekly Recall, or Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). After three years, the VAS score for the 217 patients still on Savella showed a 23.9-point decrease.
At the end of the three years, 70 percent of participants who remained in the study achieved clinically significant improvements.
The researchers said the Savella was able to lower patients' pain levels by about a third. They also reported seeing improvements in pain, global status and physical functioning that were maintained with continued long-term treatment with Savella.
I'm glad to see that if Savella works for you, it will continue to work over the long term.
My biggest concern with Savella is that like Cymbalta, it can be difficult to get off of once you start it because there can be severe withdrawal symptoms. I want to make sure patients understand that you can't just stop taking these drugs. You have to taper off gradually. Fortunately, Savella is available in several doses, so tapering off can be done a little more easily.
If you are taking or considering taking Savella, please read Dr. Christina Lasich's post, Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome, including the comment section where she answers my question about Savella.
Walsh, N. (2011, November 11). ACR: Drug brings relief long-term in fibromyalgia. MedPage Today, Retrieved from http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/ACR/29618
Arnold L, et al "3-year efficacy of milnacipran in patients with fibromyalgia: an open-label, flexible-dosing study" Arthritis Rheum: 63(10); Abstract 1907.