Lyrica: Music to the Ears of Those Who Suffer from Neuropathic Pain

While in pursuit of an anticonvulsant agent for possible use in the treatment of epilepsy, Richard B. Silverman, professor of chemistry at Northwestern University, along with postdoctoral fellow Ryszard Andruszkiewicz, invented the novel compound pregabalin, which successfully treats both epilepsy and neuropathic pain. Although there are other drugs for treating epilepsy, Lyrica™, the trade name for pregabalin, is the first and only approved drug to date for the effective treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy and post-herpetic neuralgia, two of the most common forms of nerve pain that afflict millions of people.

Lyrica™ was launched in the United States in mid-September 2005 and has been in the European market for more than a year, having received market approval by the European Union in July 2004, for two indications, neuropathic pain and epilepsy. In March 2006 the European Union also approved Lyrica for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). So far, Lyrica™ sales in the U.S. are approved for neuropathic pain and epilepsy. Clinical trials continue in the United States with Lyrica™ for GAD.

Lyrica™ is protected by numerous patents covering its composition, methods of syntheses, and clinical use for treatment of various conditions, such as epilepsy, pain and anxiety disorder. A license agreement between Northwestern University and Warner Lambert (later acquired by Pfizer), granted the exclusive rights to Pfizer.

Lyrica’s acceptance among physicians and patients has made it one of the most successful new drug launches in recent years. Sales of Lyrica™ in 2006, the first full year after FDA approval, is expected to exceed $1 billion dollars.

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