Lyrica. (pregabalin) is an FDA-approved drug that is used to treat fibromyalgia and certain other conditions.1 You may have seen advertisements for Lyrica and want to know more about its benefits and precautions.
It is always important to follow directions to decrease the risk of undesirable side effects.
Reduces Pain and Improves Function
Lyrica is not a cure for fibromyalgia, but it may help control your symptoms. It can take several weeks before you feel the benefits.
Exactly how Lyrica works is unknown. Fibromyalgia symptoms have been linked to changes in the brain that influence how people perceive pain.
People with fibromyalgia experience a heightened sensitivity to stimuli that are not normally painful to others.2 Some data suggests binds to a protein in nerve cells that is responsible for the heightened sensitivity.3
First Drug Approved for Fibromyalgia
Lyrica was approved by the FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia in adults 18 years and older in 2007. Marketed by Pfizer, it was previously approved for the management of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, post-herpetic neuralgia, and as an additional therapy for adults with partial onset seizures.
Until the approval of Lyrica capsules, no medicine was specifically approved to treat fibromyalgia. Symptoms of fibromyalgia had been treated with:
- Pain medications
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Sleep medications
- Muscle relaxers
Since the approval of Lyrica, the FDA has also approved Cymbalta (duloxetine hydrochloride) and Savella (milnacipran HCI) for treatment of fibromyalgia. These medications act as antidepressants while Lyrica does not.4
Discuss Lyrica Benefits vs. Risks
Have a full discussion with your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of Lyrica. People who are prescribed Lyrica must fully understand dosage, directions, side effects, and potentially serious adverse events associated with the drug.
While it may be a very beneficial drug for some people with fibromyalgia, precautions for safe use must be followed.
May Cause Common Side Effects
According to Pfizer, common side effects reported in patients taking Lyrica include:3
- Blurred vision
- Weight gain
- Difficulty with concentration/attention
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Dry mouth
- Increased appetite
Because of the possibility of dizziness or drowsiness, the drug may impair your ability to drive or operate complex machinery.
Rare But Serious Side Effects
Some people have reported allergic reactions to this pill, including swelling of the face, mouth, lips, gums, tongue, and neck. Others experienced trouble breathing, rash, hives, and blisters. If any of these symptoms occur, you should stop taking this pill immediately and seek medical care.
A small number of people, about 1 in 500, may have suicidal thoughts or actions with this pill, as is common for antiepileptic drugs.
Don’t stop taking the medication, but contact your doctor if you have such thoughts or if you have anxiety, depression, irritability, agitation, or other unusual behavior that is new or worsening.
Swelling of the hands and feet are another serious symptom, especially if you have heart problems. Consult your doctor immediately.
Interactions With Other Medications
If prescribed Lyrica, you must inform your doctor about all medications that you take, prescription and non-prescription, as well as any supplements. Especially important to note are ACE inhibitors, narcotics, and Avandia (rosiglitazone) or Actos (pioglitazone) for diabetes.
As with any prior significant medical problem, people who have had a drug use disorder or alcohol use disorder in the past should inform their doctor. Because of the increased possibility of misuse of Lyrica in those individuals, closer monitoring may be necessary or another treatment may be preferable.
Do Not Stop Without Consulting Doctor
This drug should be taken at the prescribed dosage. If a dose of L is missed and it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. Two doses of Lyrica should not be taken together.
Do not stop taking Lyrica without consulting your doctor. You should continue taking the drug even after experiencing pain relief. Also, plan for refills so that the prescription does not run out.
Pregnancy and Fertility Concerns
People who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should notify their doctor before starting the drug. No adequate, well-controlled studies have been conducted in pregnant humans, and use is only appropriate when the potential benefit to the person who is pregnant outweighs the possible risk to the fetus.
Male fertility may also be impacted by taking Lyrica, so this should be discussed with your doctor. Studies showed that the drug made male animals less fertile. Also, birth defects occurred in the offspring of male animals who were treated with pregabalin.
Controversial Findings for Sciatica
Study results published in 2017 concluded that patients with sciatica improved to the same level whether given (pregabalin) or placebo.6 While the drug has been prescribed for various nerve-related conditions, including sciatica, some researchers do not recommend its use for sciatica based on the results.
But, not all researchers agree—some think it may be useful for chronic sciatica. For certain, if you are currently taking it (pregabalin), do not stop without consulting your doctor first.