National Health Service patients in Scotland have been granted easier access to Pfizer’s Lyrica after cost regulators agreed to fund the drug for the treatment of peripheral neuropathic pain.

Specifically, the Scottish Medicines Consortium has deemed Lyrica (pregabalin) a cost-effective use of NHS resources when used in patients who have not achieved adequate pain control or cannot tolerate conventional first- and second-line therapies such as amitriptyline and gabapentin.

“In clinical practice, some patients still fail to achieve adequate pain relief despite trying multiple pain medications,” stressed Dr Berkeley Philips, Medical Director of Pfizer Ltd, and he added that the decision represents “a positive step for patients and physicians in Scotland” as it provides them with a “valuable, additional treatment option”.

Peripheral neuropathic pain is caused by inflammation or damage to the peripheral nervous system or central nervous system, and can result from diseases such as cancer and diabetes, physical injury, infection or be inherited.

According to the firm, the condition is associated with significant co-morbidities, such as impaired sleep and anxiety, reduced quality of life, and a significant socio-economic burden, through an increased use of healthcare resources and a loss of productivity, and so the availability of an additional therapy on the NHS will be welcomed by the up to 160,000 people in Scotland who are affected by it.

A spokesperson for the company told PharmaTimes UK News that Lyrica has not been assessed by the SMC's sister watchdog for England and Wales, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and that there are currently no plans for an appraisal.