Byron J. Richards, CCN reported earlier this month that the popular Fibromyalgia drug Lyrica and its former less potent version Neurontin have both been shown to “block the formation of new brain synapses, drastically reducing the potential for rejuvenating brain plasticity.”

Neurontin was originally produced for epilepsy but was illegally marketed for off-label use by pharmaceutical company Warner-Lambert, the former owner of the drug, who was later fined 430 million dollars.

Lyrica is owned by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and was approved by the FDA for pain management including the treatment of fibromyalgia. It, too, was illegally marketed for off-label use and Pfizer lost a $2.3 billion settlement.

Richards writes:

Even though the marketing of these drugs has been heavily fined, they continue to rack up billions in sales from the off-label uses. Doctors use them for all manner of nerve issues because they are good at suppressing symptoms. However, such uses can no longer be justified because the actual mechanism of the drugs is finally understood and they are creating a significant long-term reduction in nerve health.

The researchers in the above study try to downplay the serious nature of the drugs by saying “adult neurons don’t form many new synapses.” That is simply not true. The new science is showing that brain health during aging relies on the formation of new synapses. Even these researchers managed to question the common use of these medications in pregnant women. How is a fetus supposed to make new nerve cells when the mother is taking a drug that blocks them?

These are the kind of situations the FDA should be all over. As usual, the FDA is sitting around pondering a suicide warning for Lyrica while its off-label uses include bi-polar disorder and migraine headaches. The FDA is likely to twiddle its thumbs for the next decade on the brain damage issue. Consumer beware.

Recently here at Planet Thrive, we’ve been publishing articles on the use of brain plasticity to help ameliorate the symptoms of fibromyalgia. What a pity that those who are turning to pharmaceuticals to manage their pain might be reducing their chances for a non-invasive lasting remedy in the process. read the full article

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