Patients with fibromyalgia left in agony due to 'cruel' ban on drugs by NHS ... trends now
Sufferers of a chronic pain condition are being left in agony because of a ‘cruel’ ban on drugs by NHS chiefs, campaigners have claimed.
Fibromyalgia patients – who endure body-wide pain, muscle stiffness and headaches – had been offered powerful painkillers, including pregabalin and tramadol. But recent guidance on the management of chronic pain by NHS spending watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), has prohibited their use.
Patients are also being denied NHS-approved non-drug therapies that are proven to work, including a water-based treatment called hydrotherapy, as local health chiefs won’t fund it, claims Des Quinn, chair of Fibromyalgia Action UK.
He claims that a change in NHS rules regarding painkillers is a ‘major step backwards in the treatment of fibromyalgia’.
Celebrities such as Lady Gaga, pictured, and Morgan Freeman suffer from the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia
Mr Quinn adds: ‘Patients’ quality of life is being reduced as a result. Drugs such as tramadol are backed by good scientific evidence, which NICE failed to consider.’
It is not known what causes fibromyalgia, which affects more than two million people in the UK. The condition tends to develop between the ages of 25 and 55 and, alongside pain, patients report difficulty concentrating and digestive issues.
Some studies suggest it is triggered by an infection, an injury or a period of emotional stress, and there is currently no cure.
Prior to 2021, NICE had no specific guidelines for fibromyalgia, but told doctors to follow the rules for nerve pain. These recommended that patients were offered painkillers, including the now-barred drugs.
A report by the European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology concluded that the balance of evidence was in favour of the use of medications such as pregabalin and tramadol.
However, rising numbers of Britons becoming addicted to these painkillers – as well as a concern that they were not effective in all patients – caused health chiefs to crack down on prescriptions.
One of Britain’s top fibromyalgia specialists, Dr Deepak Ravindran of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, says the banned painkillers are being held to too high a standard.
He also adds that a wider range of treatments should be available