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Lyrica to challenge antidepressants with new anxiety disorder approval

Published on 07/04/06 at 12:00pm

Pfizer's Lyrica is to go head to head with top-selling antidepressant drugs as it enters the market to treat generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).

Lyrica (pregabalin) was first launched in 2004 for the treatment of neuropathic pain and the control of epileptic seizures, but Pfizer can now tap into the GAD market after receiving European marketing approval.

Drug treatment of GAD has been traditionally dominated by antidepressants such as fluoxetine and GSK's Seroxat, but Pfizer believes its drug offers some unique benefits over existing treatments.

The company says there are nearly 12 million patients that suffer from GAD across Europe, but estimate that only one-third of these patients are properly diagnosed, and even fewer receive effective treatment.

Lyrica's approval for GAD was based on trials of over 2,000 patients, which suggest the drug starts to work as early as the first week of use, significantly earlier than many existing treatments.

Lyrica (pregabalin) was also shown to be significantly effective in providing relief of both emotional symptoms, such as depressive symptoms and panic, as well as physical symptoms, including headaches and muscle aches.

GAD affects an estimated 5% of people at some point in their lives, and is a common and chronic psychiatric disorder characterised by excessive worry about the demands of everyday life.

Companies and clinicians working in the area are keen for GAD to be recognised as a real clinical condition, and not simply feelings of stress.

Dr. Stuart Montgomery, Professor of Psychiatry, Imperial College School of Medicine, University of London said: "GAD is much more than the normal anxiety p