FDA OK's New Use of Seizure Drug Lyrica

The FDA has approved a new use of the seizure drug, Lyrica.

Lyrica can be used to treat partial onset seizures in adults with epilepsy, says a news release from Pfizer, Lyrica’s maker.

The FDA approved Lyrica last December to manage diabetic peripheral neuropathy and postherpetic neuralgia, says Pfizer, a WebMD sponsor.

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition. It’s often hard to identify the cause, though genetics, head injury, stroke, infections, or complications during childbirth, may play a role, says the CDC.

An estimated 1.4 million to 2.3 million people in the U.S. have epilepsy, depending on the diagnostic criteria and study methods used to identify people with epilepsy, says the CDC. Pfizer’s news release puts the number at nearly 3 million. New cases are most common in children and the elderly, says the CDC.

Read WebMD's "Delaying Epilepsy Drugs May Be OK for Some"

Partial Epileptic Seizures

Partial epileptic seizures account for more than half of epileptic seizures, says Pfizer. The drug company says that despite the availability of current treatments, many people with epilepsy still experience uncontrolled seizures.

A person experiencing a complex partial seizure may look dazed or confused and will not be able to answer questions or respond to directions, says the CDC. However, other kinds of epileptic seizures aren’t always noticeable to others, says the CDC.

Read WebMD's "Understanding Seizures and Epilepsy"

Lyrica’s Tests

Lyrica was tested in three trials including nearly 1,000 patients. At the start of treatment with Lyrica, patients had approximately 10 seizures a month, even though they were also taking one to three other antiepileptic medications.

Their frequency of partial seizures with Lyrica was roughly cut in half, with a 51 percent reduction, says Pfizer.

Read WebMD's "How is Epilepsy Treated?"

Side Effects

The most common side effects in Lyrica’s trials were dizziness, sleepiness (somnolence), dry mouth, peripheral edema, blurred vision, weight gain, and difficulty with concentration/attention. The number of people who quit the trials due to side effects was “low,” says Pfizer.

Lyrica can be given to patients two or three times a day. It’s classified as a controlled substance and will be available in the fall, says Pfizer.

By Miranda Hitti, reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD

SOURCES: News release, Pfizer. CDC, “Epilepsy: Frequently Asked Questions.” CDC, “Epilepsy: FAQs.” Associated Press.