Clinical trial results encouraging for Lilly drug

Eli Lilly and Co. keeps looking for new ways its rising star, Cymbalta, could help patients with pain and depression. And it got a boost today from clinical trial data presented in France.

A study of patients with osteoarthritis found that Cymbalta significantly reduced pain in their knees, compared with patients who took a placebo.

Cymbalta, which racked up $2.1 billion in sales last year, already is approved to treat major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and diabetic nerve pain.

Lilly is waiting to hear if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will approve Cymbalta to treat fibromyalgia. A decision is scheduled for June 21.

In the osteoarthritis study, 59 percent of patients taking Cymbalta reported at least a 30 percent improvement in their pain level. About 45 percent of patients taking a placebo said their pain level improved that much.

The study included 231 patients who were tested over 13 weeks. The results were presented at the annual congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Paris, France.

“These data are important because it’s the first time [Cymbalta] has been studied in a large, placebo-controlled trial in what’s classified as an inflammatory disease state,” Dr. Amy Chappell, lead study author and a medical fellow at Lilly, said in a statement.

Lilly reported that 10 million Americans suffer from knee pain as a result of osteoarthritis.

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