Fibromyalgia: disease synopsis, medication cost effectiveness and economic burden

Pharmacoeconomics. 2014 May;32(5):457-66. doi: 10.1007/s40273-014-0137-y.


Fibromyalgia (FM) primarily affects women, and it is increasingly recognized by health care providers as more patients seek assistance for their chronic pain conditions. FM patients suffer from reduced quality of life, daily functioning and productivity. A single FM patient can cost society tens of thousands of dollars each year, with the overall expense increasing alongside disease severity. Indirect costs account for the majority of total expenditures and involve losses in productivity, reduced work hours, absenteeism, disability, unemployment, early retirement, informal care and other out-of-pocket costs. Health care utilization increases in concert with the severity of illness. Moreover, FM patients often have several comorbid illnesses (e.g. depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances), resulting in extreme escalation of overall health care expenditures. Medications with the best efficacy in the treatment of FM include the tricyclic antidepressants amitriptyline and nortriptyline, cyclobenzaprine (a skeletal muscle relaxant), tramadol, duloxetine, milnacipran, pregabalin and gabapentin. Corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, benzodiazepines and opioid analgesics, with the exception of tramadol, are not considered efficacious. Medication selection should be individualized and influenced by the severity of illness and the presence of comorbidities and functional disabilities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics* / economics
  • Analgesics* / therapeutic use
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Drug Costs*
  • Employment / economics
  • Fibromyalgia / complications
  • Fibromyalgia / diagnosis
  • Fibromyalgia / drug therapy
  • Fibromyalgia / economics*
  • Humans
  • Precision Medicine / economics
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Analgesics