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Gabapentin vs Lyrica

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Overview

Gabapentin Information

Lyrica Information

Comparative Analysis

Introduction

For patients dealing with nerve pain, epilepsy or fibromyalgia, certain drugs that modulate the release of neurotransmitters related to pain perception can help in managing symptoms. Gabapentin and Lyrica are two such medications often prescribed for these conditions. They each impact different mechanisms within the nervous system but both have proven effective in reducing neuropathic pain and seizures. Gabapentin is a GABA analogue that was originally developed as an anti-seizure medication but has also been found to be beneficial in treating postherpetic neuralgia and other forms of nerve pain. On the contrary, Lyrica (pregabalin), although similar in structure to gabapentin, has a different mechanism of action; it binds strongly to calcium channels which decrease neurotransmitter release thus attenuating neuronal excitability.

Gabapentin vs Lyrica Side By Side

AttributeNeurontinLyrica
Brand NameNeurontinLyrica
ContraindicationsShould not be taken with opioids. Should not be discontinued abruptly to avoid withdrawal symptoms.Should not be taken with opioids. Should not be discontinued abruptly to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
CostThe price for 90 capsules of Neurontin (Gabapentin, 100mg) is approximately $170, working out to nearly $2/day.The price for 60 capsules of Lyrica (50 mg) averages around $430, which works out to about $7–14/day, depending on your dose.
Generic NameGabapentinPregabalin
Most Serious Side EffectSuicidal thoughts or self-harm tendencies, allergic reactions, visual disturbances, rapid heartbeats, low sodium levels, serious nervous system reaction.Signs of an allergic reaction, new or worsening depression or anxiety, suicidal thoughts or actions, a seizure, rapid changes in mood or behavior, vision problems, irregular heart rhythm, uncontrolled muscle movements.
Severe Drug InteractionsIncreased respiratory depression risks with opioids.Increased respiratory depression risks with opioids.
Typical DoseOral dosages range from 300-3600 mg/day, divided into three doses.Therapy typically commences with a dosage of 50-100 mg taken three times per day, up to a maximum of 300 mg/day.

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin (the generic name for Neurontin) was first approved by the FDA in 1993 and is part of an anticonvulsant class of drugs. Gabapentin works to reduce seizure activity and nerve pain by stabilizing electrical activity in the brain, effectively "calming" it down. It is prescribed for treating different forms of neuropathic pain, seizures, and restless legs syndrome. Unlike other medicines used to treat these conditions, Gabapentin primarily interacts with a specific subunit in voltage-dependent calcium channels which are present over certain nervous system cells.

On the other hand, Pregabalin (commonly known as Lyrica), also an anticonvulsant drug but introduced much later in 2004, has a similar mechanism of action to Gabapentin but with higher potency. This results in potentially better efficacy at lower doses compared to Gabapentin. It's worth noting that while both medications can cause side effects such as dizziness or sleepiness, these tend to be more pronounced with Lyrica due to its stronger effect on the nervous system.

What conditions is Gabapentin approved to treat?

Gabapentin is approved for treatment of several conditions:

  • Partial seizures, one of the most common types of seizure that originates in a limited area of the brain
  • Postherpetic neuralgia, pain caused by nerve damage from shingles
  • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), an unpleasant sensation in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them

How does Gabapentin help with these illnesses?

Gabapentin helps to manage conditions like seizures, nerve pain and anxiety by increasing the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the synapses of the brain. It does this by blocking its reabsorption into the neurons, allowing levels to be maintained higher for longer periods of time. GABA is a neurotransmitter that acts as an inhibitory messenger in the nervous system, playing an important role in reducing neuronal excitability throughout the body and therefore inducing a calming effect. It's thought that individuals with certain neurological or mental health disorders have relatively lower levels of GABA. Therefore, by increasing GABA, Gabapentin can limit symptoms related to these conditions and help patients manage their condition more effectively.

What is Lyrica?

Lyrica, also known as pregabalin, is a medication primarily used for the treatment of neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. It works by slowing down impulses in the brain that cause seizures. Pregabalin also affects chemicals in the brain that send out pain signals across the nervous system.

The FDA first approved Lyrica in 2004. Unlike gabapentin, it doesn't need to be taken multiple times throughout the day because it has a longer half-life (the time required for half of a substance's concentration or amount in body tissues to be eliminated). This makes its dosing schedule more convenient than that of gabapentin.

In terms of side effects, Lyrica can sometimes cause dizziness and sleepiness, which are not typically seen with SSRIs like Prozac. Moreover, Lyrica may lead to weight gain and edema (swelling) but does not usually result in sexual dysfunction—a common downside associated with SSRI medications such as Prozac.

However, similar to Wellbutrin's impact on dopamine and norepinephrine bringing benefits for depression treatment especially among those unresponsive towards traditional SSRI antidepressants like Prozac—the way Lyrica interacts with alpha2-delta protein may bring substantial relief specifically for patients suffering from conditions tied to overactive nerve signals such as epilepsy or chronic pain issues.

What conditions is Lyrica approved to treat?

Lyrica is an FDA-approved medication used for the management of several conditions, primarily:

  • Neuropathic pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy
  • Postherpetic neuralgia (pain following shingles)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Neuropathic pain associated with spinal cord injury
  • Adjunctive therapy for the treatment of partial onset seizures in adults and pediatric patients.

How does Lyrica help with these illnesses?

Lyrica, like gabapentin, is known to modulate the activity of certain protein complexes in nerve cells involved in pain signaling and seizure activity. It has a particularly high affinity for the alpha-2-delta subunit of voltage-gated calcium channels on neurons. By binding to these sites, Lyrica reduces the release of various neurotransmitters including glutamate, norepinephrine, substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide. This action can help regulate overexcited nerves that contribute to conditions such as epilepsy or neuropathic pain. Unlike its counterpart Gabapentin which requires titration over several days due to bioavailability issues and potential side effects like dizziness and somnolence, Lyrica provides more predictable absorption rate making it potentially easier for patients' use when compared with Gabapentin.

How effective are both Gabapentin and Lyrica?

Both gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica) have established histories of success in treating patients with neuropathic pain, seizures, and fibromyalgia. Gabapentin was approved by the FDA first in 1993 followed by pregabalin's approval a decade later in 2004. As they both work on similar pathways but different sites within the nervous system, they may be prescribed under varying circumstances depending on patient response and tolerability.

The effectiveness of gabapentin and pregabalin in alleviating neuropathic pain has been studied extensively; both drugs exhibit significant efficacy, although some studies indicate that pregabalin might have a more potent effect due to its higher binding affinity for the target receptor site. A direct comparative study between these two drugs suggested that while they are similarly effective overall, there were nuances such as faster onset of action seen with Lyrica compared to Neurontin which could make it potentially more suitable for certain conditions or individual patient needs.

In terms of safety profiles, both medications share common side effects like dizziness and somnolence. However, weight gain appears to be somewhat more prevalent with pregabalin use than with gabapentin according to several studies.

Gabapentin is generally well-tolerated across various populations including geriatric cohorts where dose adjustments may need to be made based on renal function status due to its elimination through kidneys unchanged. A meta-analysis review indicated that it significantly improves symptoms related to postherpetic neuralgia starting from the first week of treatment onwards.

Pregabalin too has demonstrated substantial efficacy against neuropathic pain syndromes as per numerous clinical trials. It is often considered a second-line option after tryptamine-based analgesics for migraine prophylaxis due its unique mechanism involving calcium channel modulation unlike traditional antiepileptic drugs. Although it shares many similarities with gabaplatin regarding their pharmacokinetics & dynamics yet owing to differences like linear absorption profile & higher potency per milligram dosage because of better bioavailability makes them distinct therapeutic options each having their own place in managing neurological disorders efficiently.

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At what dose is Gabapentin typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Gabapentin range from 300-3600 mg/day, divided into three doses. However, studies have shown that a dosage of 900mg/day is often sufficient for managing neuropathic pain in most adults. For children and adolescents aged 3-17 years old suffering from epilepsy, the dosage may start at 10-15mg/kg/day which can be increased every three days up to a maximum dose of 50mg/kg/day. In either population, dosage can be adjusted based on individual response and tolerability. The maximum daily dosage should not exceed 3600mg in any case.

Comparatively, Lyrica (pregabalin) is typically started at a lower dose of around 150 mg/day divided into two or three doses for adults dealing with neuropathic pain or fibromyalgia and it may be increased over time depending on the patient's response and side effects experienced. The maximum recommended daily dose is generally capped at 600 mg for this medication.

At what dose is Lyrica typically prescribed?

Lyrica therapy typically commences with a dosage of 50-100 mg taken three times per day. If necessary, the dose can be increased to a maximum of 300 mg/day within one week, divided into two or three doses as recommended by your healthcare provider. For some conditions like fibromyalgia and generalized anxiety disorder, the total daily dose may be further upped to a maximum of 450 mg/day divided into two or three separate doses based on tolerability and response to treatment. It's important to remember that any increase in dosage should only be done under medical supervision after an appropriate period for evaluation has passed.

What are the most common side effects for Gabapentin?

Common side effects of Gabapentin and Lyrica may include:

  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Unsteadiness or coordination problems
  • Fatigue (general weakness)
  • Tremor (unintentional trembling or shaking)
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal issues like bloating or gas
  • Weight gain, increased appetite
  • Blurred vision
  • Swelling in the arms, hands, feet, ankles or lower legs.

More severe but less common side effects could be mood changes such as anxiety or depression. If these symptoms persist after taking either medication, it is important to consult your healthcare provider right away.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Gabapentin?

While both Gabapentin and Lyrica are anticonvulsants used for nerve pain management, each can have unique side effects. When taking Gabapentin, the following issues may arise:

  • Suicidal thoughts or self-harm tendencies
  • Allergic reactions such as hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Visual disturbances including blurred vision or double vision;
  • Rapid heartbeats, palpitations within your chest cavity, shortness of breath and sudden dizziness (as if you might faint); Low sodium levels - symptoms include headache, confusion, slurred speech patterns, severe muscular weakness, vomiting episodes; A rare but serious nervous system reaction that includes very stiff muscles (rigidity), high fever spikes with sweating episodes, confusion or fast/uneven heartbeats.

On the other hand when taking Lyrica you should look out for similar signs along with possible edema (swelling) in feet and hands due to fluid retention; weight gain; dry mouth; constipation. More severe cases may involve muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis), changes in heartbeat rhythm and rare instances of angioedema. Always consult a healthcare provider if any adverse conditions occur while on these medications.

What are the most common side effects for Lyrica?

Lyrica, a medication often used to manage nerve pain and seizures, can lead to side effects such as:

  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Weight gain
  • Dizziness, sleepiness or fatigue
  • Lack of balance or coordination
  • Tremors
  • Feeling anxious or nervous
  • Swelling in the hands and feet (edema)
    -Swift mood changes. -Muscle pain and weakness

It's important to note that while these side effects may occur not everyone experiences them. Always consult with your healthcare provider regarding any concerns you have about medication side effects.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Lyrica?

Lyrica, similar to other medications, can lead to a range of side effects. Some can be quite severe and require immediate medical attention. If you experience any of the following while taking Lyrica:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing; swelling in your face or throat; hives; itchy rash
  • New or worsening depression or anxiety, suicidal thoughts or actions
  • A seizure (even if you have never had one before)
  • Rapid changes in mood or behavior including confusion and aggression
  • Vision problems including blurred vision, double vision, sudden blindness
  • Irregular heart rhythm or palpitations
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements that are new onset

It's crucial that you seek immediate medical help. These could potentially indicate serious adverse reactions to the medication.

Contraindications for Gabapentin and Lyrica?

Both Gabapentin and Lyrica, along with most other anticonvulsant medications, may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior. If you notice your mood worsening, or an increase in suicidal ideation, thoughts, or behavior while taking these drugs, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Gabapentin nor Lyrica should be taken if you are using opioids. Always tell your physician which medications you are taking; opioids can interact dangerously with Gabapentin and Lyrica due to increased respiratory depression risks. Furthermore, both of these medications should not be discontinued abruptly due to the potential for withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness and insomnia. Instead, a gradual tapering is recommended under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

How much do Gabapentin and Lyrica cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for 60 capsules of Lyrica (50 mg) averages around $430, which works out to about $7–14/day, depending on your dose.
  • The price for 90 capsules of Neurontin (Gabapentin, 100mg) is approximately $170, working out to nearly $2/day.

Thus, if you are in the higher dosage range for Gabapentin (i.e., 300 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Lyrica can be less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. Please note that cost should not be a primary consideration in determining which of these drugs is right for you.

As far as generic versions go:

  • Generic gabapentin costs significantly less than its branded counterpart and comes in packs ranging from 15 to several hundred capsules. Prices start at just over a dollar per day when buying smaller packs but can drop below ten cents per capsule when buying larger quantities.

  • Pregabalin is available in similar pack sizes with prices starting at around three dollars per day when purchasing smaller amounts and dropping down to under fifty cents per capsule by opting for larger quantities.

Popularity of Gabapentin and Lyrica

Gabapentin, available in generic form and under the brand name Neurontin among others, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 64 million people in the US in 2020. Gabapentin accounted for over 20% of prescriptions for nerve pain medication in the US. As an anticonvulsant and nerve pain medication, gabapentin's prevalence has been generally increasing since its approval by FDA in 1993.

Pregabalin or Lyrica, a newer drug compared to gabapentin but with similar applications such as treating epilepsy, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia and generalized anxiety disorder was prescribed to approximately 10 million people in the USA during the same period. Pregabalin accounts for just over 15% of overall prescriptions for nerve pain medications. The rate of pregabalin prescription has seen steady growth since it came into use after receiving FDA approval back in late 2004.

Conclusion

Both Gabapentin and Lyrica (pregabalin) are frequently used in the management of neuropathic pain, epilepsy, and fibromyalgia. They have been extensively studied and have shown more effectiveness than placebo treatments in these conditions. Occasionally, both drugs may be combined to manage severe neuropathic pain but this should always be under the careful consideration by a physician as they can interact with each other. Due to their similar mechanisms of action - both gabapentin and pregabalin bind to calcium channels in nerve cells reducing neurotransmitter release - they tend to be prescribed under similar circumstances.

Gabapentin is often considered as a first-line treatment option for neuropathic pain due its lowest cost especially since it's available in generic form representing significant savings for patients who must pay out of pocket. On the other hand, Lyrica is typically reserved for those who did not respond well or tolerate side-effects from initial therapy like gabapentin.

The start of therapy with either drug requires an adjustment period meaning that full therapeutic effects may not be noticeable right away.

Side effect profiles are quite comparable between these two medications; however, Lyrica could cause weight gain more often than gabapentin does. Both drugs generally being well-tolerated but monitoring is important especially when starting treatment or adjusting doses because they can cause dizziness, sleepiness or mood changes which should lead to immediate medical attention if severe.