Pregabalin, marketed under the brand name Lyrica, is used either alone or alongside other medicines to treat certain types of long-lasting pain caused by damage to nerves. This type of pain, called neuropathic pain, can be caused by a number of different conditions including fibromyalgia, diabetes and shingles. Pregabalin is also indicated for the treatment of epilepsy and anxiety, but White Pharmacy is unable to prescribe for these conditions - please consult your GP.
Pregabalin is thought to work by acting on the release of various neurotransmitters from nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Neurotransmitters are natural body chemicals that are found in these nerve cells and are involved in transmitting messages between them. Pregabalin downgrades the release of neurotransmitters called glutamate, noradrenaline and substance P.
Glutamate, substance P and noradrenaline are all involved in transmitting pain signals in the brain and nervous system. As pregabalin reduces the release of these neurotransmitters it can be used to treat nerve pain that has occurred as a result of damage to, or a disturbance in the function of, nerves (neuropathic pain). So it is helpful in the treatment of peripheral neuropathic pain, such as nerve pain in the hands, legs or feet, as well as central neuropathic pain, resulting from a spinal cord injury.
Pregabalin is usually taken two to three times a day with or without food. The dose prescribed depends on the individual, the condition being treated and how well it is controlled.
The usual starting dose is 75mg twice a day and this may be increased up to 100mg three times a day after one week. The maximum dose should not exceed 600mg per day.
Follow the instructions given by your doctor or pharmacist. These will also be printed on the dispensing label that your pharmacist has put on the medicine. Try to space your doses evenly over the day. Pregabalin needs to be taken regularly every day in order to produce the best result.
You should not stop taking this medicine suddenly unless your doctor tells you otherwise, as this may result in your nerve pain returning or getting worse. If it is decided that you should stop taking this medicine, the dose should usually be reduced gradually over at least a week. Follow the instructions given by your doctor.
The most common side effects of pregabalin are dizziness, sleepiness and decreased concentration. Therefore patients taking pregabalin should exercise caution until they have become accustomed to its effects.
Other possible side effects are detailed in the drug information sheet supplied with the tablets. If troublesome side effects from pregabalin are experienced a doctor, pharmacist or nurse should be consulted straight away. Side effects from pregabalin may reduce or disappear after taking the same dose for a few days.
Other side effects of pregabalin include:
- Fatigue or lethargy,
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia),
- Increased appetite and weight gain,
- Euphoric mood,
- Confusion, feeling disorientated,
- Sexual problems such as decreased sex drive or erectile dysfunction (impotence),
- Shaky movements and unsteady walk (ataxia),
- Tremor, abnormal coordination,
- Problems with speech, memory or attention,
- Blurred or double vision,
- Disturbances of the gut such as constipation, vomiting, flatulence (wind),
- Dry mouth,
- Excessive fluid retention in the body tissues, resulting in swelling (oedema).
Pregabalin should be used with caution in:
- The elderly,
- People with decreased kidney function,
- Patients with severe heart failure,
- People with a history of substance abuse.
Note that some diabetics may put on weight whilst taking pregabalin. This will need to be monitored as it may require adjustments to their blood sugar lowering medicine.
The use of alcohol should be limited or avoided while being treated with pregabalin.
Do not stop taking this medicine except on your doctor's advice.
The patient information leaflet (PIL) is a leaflet containing specific information about medical conditions, doses and side effects. You can download a copy of the PIL here:
Patient Info Leaflet