We could have predicted it. Naysayers who say that now there are three approved prescriptions medicines for fibromyalgia, a chronic pain syndrome, marketing is fueling hype – hype about a condition some people say is all in a patient's head.

Here we go again. The drug companies are always an easy target. When a drug is a success it can bring in more than a billion dollars a year. Treatments are costly and many people, including millions with no insurance or who are underinsured, struggle to pay for them. So the pharmaceutical industry continues to have a public relations problem.

But none of that has anything to do with whether people – primarily women – are suffering with debilitating pain, pain that is effectively treated often by the approved medicines.

Critics – including some doctors – say that because there's no definitive test for fibromyalgia it is a disservice to rush to treatment with the new drugs when maybe some patients need psychotherapy instead. It's in the patient's head.

I am not qualified to evaluate who needs the medicines and who doesn't. But I do know this: the FDA advisory panels and the FDA itself would not have approved the medicines, nor would the drug companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars on clinic trials, if they had no effectiveness.

After approval the drug companies have hit the airwaves with television commercials and with websites trying to raises awareness for the condition and that there are approved treatments. They also have been funding education programs to connect rheumatologists, who know all about fibromyalgia, with many primary care doctors who don't. And they are funding patient education in partnership with groups like the National Fibromyalgia Association, founded by a patient and an organization that has cried out for awareness and effective treatments for years.

Is this public and medical education effort a bad thing? Some media reports suggest it is: getting doctors and the public in a tizzy about a phony or overused diagnosis fueled by greedy drug companies who want to make billions. Oh please! While one could argue such important issues should be debated, I think we should focus on how to help give suffering patients relief from their pain and celebrate that private industry has made huge investments to meet the need.

Do we need to sort out exactly who needs these treatments and who could benefit in other ways? Sure. But to cast the same old aspersions on the drug companies is unfair and if we keep skewering them one day we can kiss drug development goodbye. The next time you swallow a pill that helps you ask yourself what the world would be like if no one invented – or marketed – products like that.

If you've read this far, I hope you will join me for our LIVE webcast Wednesday, February 11th at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 am Pacific (with a replay soon afterwards) where we discuss all these issues in-depth and connect you with renowned experts. No matter where you sit on these issues listen and call in with your comments and questions.

And, no, there is no drug company paying for this broadcast. It is self-funded by Patient Power solely as a public service.

Wishing you and your family, the best of health,