The world’s number one drugmaker, Pfizer, says that its new prescription drug for the management of neuropathic pain and epilepsy, Lyrica (pregabalin) , is now available in the USA following approvals late last year and in June [[14/06/05b]], [[04/01/05d]].

Lyrica, a follow-up compound to Pfizer's enormously successful Neurontin (gabapentin), has a novel mechanism of action marking a significant advance in therapy for neuropathic pain, as it represents the first drug to be cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of two distinct forms of neuropathic pain, as well as first new antiepileptic to be given the green light in five years.

“I am pleased to be able to prescribe Lyrica for my patients,” said Dr Edgar Ross, director of the Pain Management Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Until now, we've had limited options to treat patients with these types of neuropathic pain. I have seen the benefits of Lyrica in providing rapid and sustained pain relief among my patients in the clinical trials,” he added.

The use of Lyrica for these three indications in the USA will provide a substantial boost to the drug’s turnover, helping to recoup some of the losses from dwindling sales of its predecessor Neurontin, which generated annual revenues of around $2 billion a year before the launch of generic competitors in 2004 [[19/08/04d]]. Analysts expect that Lyrica, which received its first marketing clearance in the UK in September last year [[15/09/04d]], should generate peak annual sales at least to the same level as those achieved by Neurontin.