Pregabalin

Sounds like 'pree-GAH-ba-lin'

Easy-to-read medicine information about pregabalin – what it is, how to take pregabalin safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Pain medication
  • Pregabalin Pfizer®
  • Lyrica®

What is pregabalin?

Pregabalin is used for the relief of nerve pain (also called neuropathy). Nerve pain occurs when damage or changes to your nerves through injury or disease such as diabetes or shingles, causes them to misfire and send pain signals to the brain. Read more about nerve pain

Pregabalin is also used to treat epilepsy, by preventing some types of seizures, and can also be helpful in treating the symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder, if other medicines are not suitable. 

In New Zealand, pregabalin is available as capsules (25 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg and 300 mg).  

Dose

  • The usual dose of pregabalin is 150 mg two times a day.
  • Your doctor will start you on a low dose of 75 mg two times a day and increase the dose after a few days. This allows your body to get used to the medicine and reduces the chances of side effects.
  • Always take your pregabalin exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much pregabalin to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

My dose is:

Date Morning Evening
     
     
     
Notes:




How to take pregabalin

  • Take pregabalin at the same times each day. You need to take pregabalin regularly and not just when your nerve pain gets bad.  
  • Swallow the capsules with a glass of water.
  • You can take pregabalin with or without food. Try taking pregabalin with food if it makes you feel sick (nausea).
  • Limit or avoid alcohol while taking pregabalin. Taking pregabalin and alcohol can make your more sleepy, drowsy or dizzy.
  • There are many strengths of pregabalin capsules available. Check the strength of the capsules each time you get a new prescription to make sure they are what you are expecting.
  • If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the amount.
  • If you are taking pregabalin for pain, it does not relieve pain immediately – it may take a few days before you start noticing a reduction in pain. 
  • If you think pregabalin is not working for you, do not stop taking it suddenly; speak to your doctor or nurse before stopping. It is usually best to stop taking pregabalin slowly to avoid side effects.

Precautions – before starting pregabalin

  • Do you have kidney problems?
  • Do you have problems with your heart?
  • Do you have diabetes?
  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Are you taking any other medicines? This includes any medicines you buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.

If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start pregabalin. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, pregabalin can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Problems with balance and drowsiness

This is quite common when you start taking pregabalin. Up to 1 in 3 people experience dizziness or drowsiness. 

  • Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Also be careful when getting up from either lying down or sitting – the loss of balance and dizziness can put you at risk of falls and injuries, especially if you are elderly.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking pregabalin. This can make dizziness and drowsiness worse.

Tell your doctor if these side effects are troublesome – you may need a lower dose.

Risk of dependence

Pregabalin can cause feelings of excitement and exaggerated happiness (often described as a high or euphoria). Therefore, it has the potential to become habit forming. The risk of dependence may be higher if you have a history of misuse of alcohol and recreational drugs. To avoid pregabalin dependence, do not take it in higher doses, more frequent doses or for longer than you were prescribed by a doctor. Let your doctor know if you have any history of drug abuse or start to feel any sense of high or desire for your next dose.

Other side effects

Side effects What should I do?
Weight gain
  • This is quite common in the first few months of starting pregabalin.
  • Most people gain less than 2 kilograms, but up to 15% of people, depending on dose, can gain over 5 kilograms.
  • Follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
Constipation
  • Ask your doctor to prescribe a suitable laxative, which you need to take on a regular basis.
  • You also need to eat more fruit, vegetables, brown bread, bran-based breakfast cereals and drink plenty of water.
Frequent mood changes, thoughts of suicide, abnormal behaviours
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116

Interactions

Pregabalin interacts with a number of medicines and herbal supplements so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting pregabalin or before starting any new medicines. 

Learn more

The following links have more information on pregabalin.

Medsafe Consumer Information sheets: Pregabalin Pfizer

References

  1. Prescribing gabapentin and pregabalin: upcoming subsidy changes BPAC, 2018
  2. Managing patients with neuropathic pain BPAC, 2016
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 07 May 2019