Lyrica is Pfizer’s trade name for a drug called pregabalin. Pregabalin is an anticonvulsant, or anti-seizure, drug.

Lyrica is used to treat a number of symptoms and conditions. It works by slowing impulses across the brain that are involved in seizures. It also affects chemicals involved in pain signals.

This article looks at the most common uses for the drug, the potential side effects and the risk of abuse.

Fast facts on Lyrica (pregabalin):

  • Uses are primarily epilepsy, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain.
  • Common side effects include drowsiness and fatigue.
  • Pregabalin interacts badly with some drugs, including opioids and alcohol.
  • Signs of overdose include increased heart rate.

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One of the more common side effects is dizziness and drowsiness.

Commonly, Lyrica (pregabalin) has been approved in the United States to treat:

Fibromyalgia is a condition involving widespread pain, pain in the muscles and connective tissue, and a heightened and painful response to touch.

In the European Union, pregabalin is used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, but other drugs are used for this in the U.S.

Lyrica has the following side effects:

  • Dizziness: The most common side effect of pregabalin is dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Vision issues: Although less common than dizziness, some patients experience visual problems.
  • Muscle problems: Some patients experience a lack of coordination in muscle movements, disorder of speech, and tremor.
  • Other problems: Lethargy, memory problems, euphoria, constipation, dry mouth, peripheral swelling, loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and weight gain are sometimes experienced.

Less commonly, there may be:

  • depression and suicidal thoughts
  • confusion
  • agitation
  • hallucinations
  • muscle twitching
  • change in sensitivity to touch
  • increased heart rate
  • excessive salivating
  • sweating
  • redness
  • rash
  • muscle cramps
  • muscle and joint pain
  • urinary problems
  • kidney stones

A very low number of patients experience low neutrophil levels, heart block, blood pressure changes, inflammation of the pancreas, difficulty swallowing, halt in urine production, or a breakdown in skeletal muscle tissue. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell.

People with the following conditions should tell their doctor before taking Lyrica:

  • congestive heart failure
  • kidney disease
  • diabetes
  • blood disorders
  • history of mental illness
  • drug or alcohol addictions

If a woman becomes pregnant while taking Lyrica, she should speak with her doctor to check whether it should be continued. It should not be taken while breast-feeding as it may pass into the mother’s milk.

Men should use birth control when taking Lyrica as it can cause birth defects in his offspring.

The manufacturer of Lyrica warns of potentially dangerous interactions with the following drugs:

  • Opioids: These include drugs such as morphine, fentanyl, and remifentanil.
  • Benzodiazepines: Examples include alprazolam, clonazepam, and diazepam.
  • Barbiturates: These include phenobarbital, secobarbital, and brallobarbital.
  • Alcohol.

Any drugs that depress the central nervous system can interact with Lyrica.

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There is some potential for abuse with Lyrica, with overdoses reported in some studies.

In some cases, patients may become dependent on pregabalin and experience withdrawal effects after using the drug for an extended period.

Lyrica has some potential for abuse. An article in the Emergency Medicine Journal provided some results of a study on recreational abuse.

The published results stated, “Dosages ranged from 500-1,400 milligrams. Six patients presented with seizures (five of which were ‘first’ seizures). Two patients required intubation and ventilation and were admitted to the ICU”.

As a result, there are notable precautions for Lyrica. Dosage and side effects should be monitored closely.