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Significant use of non-evidence-based therapeutics in a cohort of Australian fibromyalgia patients.

BACKGROUND: Fibromyalgia is a common condition characterised by chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain and central sensitivity features. Appropriate management requires a multidisciplinary approach prioritising non-pharmacological strategies. Evidence-based fibromyalgia medications are not always easily available, effective or tolerated.

AIM: To characterise actual medication usage in Australian fibromyalgia patients.

METHODS: Demographic and clinical data, including medication use information, were gathered by chart review from patients attending the Monash Fibromyalgia Clinic between January 2019 and June 2022. Eligible patients were invited to complete an anonymous questionnaire between June and August 2022 to assess current therapeutic use. The questionnaire assessed fibromyalgia clinical features by using the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire and the 2016 modified American College of Rheumatology Fibromyalgia criteria.

RESULTS: The chart review included 474 patients, and 108 participants completed the questionnaire. Most chart review (78.7%) and questionnaire participants (85.2%) reported using at least one medication for their fibromyalgia. 48.5% of chart review patients and 58.3% of questionnaire participants reported using at least one evidence-based medication, usually amitriptyline, duloxetine or pregabalin. However, the most common individual medications for questionnaire participants were non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (48.2%), paracetamol (59.3%) and opioids (34.3%), with most opioids being typical opioids. Among questionnaire participants, 14.8% reported using cannabinoids, and 70.4% reported using at least one supplement, vitamin or herbal/naturopathic preparation. Not all medication or substance use was recorded during clinic appointments.

CONCLUSION: Fibromyalgia patients engage in various pharmacotherapeutic strategies that are not always evidence-based or disclosed to their treating clinicians.

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