Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Pharma notes

My recent forays into prescription drugs for treatment of pain have included, most notably, a neuroblocker named Lyrica. It is a formulation of pregabalin, and related to neurontin (gabapentin). At first blush, beginning in early September, 75mg twice a day of the stuff seemed great; my pain went away, and in general I felt better. My sleep cycles settled, and the only side effect I noticed was a greater sensitivity to alcohol.

After a while, though, the pain began to return. The pain specialist kicked me up to 100mg twice a day, and that's when the fun really began. The side effects began to include:
  • greatly heightened effects of alcohol
  • confusion
  • loss of memory
  • inability to find words
  • thinning hair
  • dry skin
  • loss of balance and coordination
  • blurry vision

Strangely, it was the blurred vision I noticed first and most acutely. The rest of the symptoms I began to put together as I looked back at the intervening month. After a bit of research, I also discovered that these are common side effects. In response to my concern, the pain specialist decided to move me to Gabatril. After discovering that Gabatril has many of the same (potential) side effects, not to mention a host of others, I decided to pull myself off everything but Ibuprofen.

I have no regrets. The pain is within manageable limits. The experience has made me question the pharma industry even further, however, since so many patients are put in the position of responding to one foreign substance with another. In spite of everything, I'm lucky. I feel bad for the people who need stuff like this to function day-to-day.