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Lyrica: 7 things you should know

Medically reviewed by C. Fookes, BPharm Last updated on Sep 2, 2019.

1. How it works

  • Lyrica is a brand (trade) name for pregabalin. Lyrica may be used in the treatment of some seizure disorders and also for the control of nerve pain.
  • Research has shown that Lyrica binds strongly to a specific site (called the alpha2-delta site) on voltage-gated calcium channels. This action is thought to be the mechanism for its nerve-pain relieving and anti-seizure properties.

2. Upsides

  • May be used to treat nerve pain associated with diabetes, shingles infection, and spinal cord injuries.
  • May be used in addition to other medications for the treatment of partial-onset seizures.
  • May be used in the management of fibromyalgia.
  • Appears to have few drug interactions, although a compounding of side effects (such as sedation) may be seen if Lyrica is used with other drugs with similar side effects.
  • Lyrica is available as a generic under the name pregabalin.

3. Downsides

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • May cause dizziness, drowsiness, and affect a person's ability to drive or operate machinery. Alcohol should be avoided.
  • May cause edema (fluid retention), particularly in the feet or hands. This may be noticed as weight gain, although weight gain can occur independently of fluid retention. Rarely, may cause potentially life-threatening angioedema (swelling of the face, mouth or neck). People taking other medications that have also been associated with angioedema (such as ACE inhibitors) may be more at risk.
  • Other side effects include a headache, tremor, abnormal thinking, dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, lack of energy, changes in some laboratory test results (such as creatine kinase), and ECG changes.
  • The dosage of Lyrica needs reducing in people with kidney disease.
  • Similar to other medicines used to treat seizures, Lyrica is associated with an increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • Avoid abrupt or rapid discontinuation as discontinuation symptoms (including insomnia, nausea, headache, anxiety, increased sweating and diarrhea) have been reported. Taper dosage down gradually on a doctor's advice over a minimum of one week.
  • There is currently no generic version of Lyrica available in the United States.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

4. Bottom Line

Lyrica can help relieve nerve pain and control seizures but it is likely to cause drowsiness.

5. Tips

  • May be taken with or without food.
  • Do not stop abruptly; discontinue slowly over at least a week under your doctor's supervision. The exception is if you notice any facial or neck swelling, shortness of breath, or a skin rash then discontinue Lyrica immediately and seek urgent medical advice.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery if Lyrica makes your drowsy or impairs your judgment.
  • Notify your doctor if vision changes occur, if you experience unusual muscle pain or weakness, or if you are unexpectedly gaining weight.
  • Talk to your doctor if you experience any worsening of your mood or develop suicidal thoughts.
  • If you are planning to father a child, be aware that an association between Lyrica and birth defects has been reported in some animal studies.

6. Response and Effectiveness

  • Peak concentrations occur within 1.5 hours and effects last for approximately eight hours. Full anti-seizure or nerve-pain relieving effects may take several weeks to develop, although some people may experience some relief during the first week of taking Lyrica.

7. Interactions

Medicines that interact with Lyrica may either decrease its effect, affect how long it works for, increase side effects, or have less of an effect when taken with Lyrica. An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of the medications; however, sometimes it does. Speak to your doctor about how drug interactions should be managed.

Common medications that may interact with pregabalin include:

  • anti-anxiety medications, such as diazepam, lorazepam
  • antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, citalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine
  • antihistamines, such as chlorpheniramine, promethazine
  • antipsychotics, such as aripiprazole, chlorpromazine, haloperidol
  • buprenorphine
  • heart medications, such as ACE inhibitors (eg, benazepril, captopril, enalapril)
  • narcotic pain relievers, such as oxycodone
  • propoxyphene
  • sedatives or sleeping pills
  • some diabetes medications, such as pioglitazone, rosiglitazone
  • tramadol.

Note that this list is not all-inclusive and includes only common medications that may interact with Lyrica. You should refer to the prescribing information for Lyrica for a complete list of interactions.

References

Lyrica (pregabalin) [Package Insert]. Revised 06/2019. Parke-Davis Div of Pfizer Inc. https://www.drugs.com/pro/lyrica.html

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Lyrica only for the indication prescribed.

Copyright 1996-2019 Drugs.com. Revision date: September 1, 2019.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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