Posted: 07/18/2014

Is Lyrica Worth the Cost?

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Both gabapentin (marketed as Neurontin) and pregabalin (sold as Lyrica) are used to help control partial seizures when treating epilepsy and for treating post-herpetic pain from shingles. While both have been proven effective in their intended purposes, there is some debate as to which medication is the better option.

Lyrica (pregabalin) and gabapentin have similar properties and chemical structures (pregabalin is a structural cogener of gabapentin), both medications are classified as anticonvulsants with the chemical classification gamma amino butyric acid, and both are effective in relieving post-herpetic neuralgia. However, pregabalin (currently only available under the brand name Lyrica) is significantly more expensive than gabapentin (in either its generic form or under the brand name Neurontin), with the per dose costs of Lyrica being fifty times higher (or more).

Can Prices Be Deceiving?

But does cost alone make gabapentin a more desirable choice? When comparing pregabalin to gabapentin some interesting patterns and traits emerge.

First, of the two, only Lyrica has FDA approval for the treatment of post-herpetic neuralgia and diabetic peripheral neuropathy, giving it a wider range of application. In addition, Lyrica has shown itself to be the more effective antiepileptic because there has been a reduction in the frequency of seizures in patients who were prescribed this medication. Side effects for both medications are the same, with dizziness and extreme drowsiness being the most common.

Second, gabapentin is absorbed much more slowly than Lyrica is, so it takes longer to realize its full effects (sometimes two to four times longer). Also, the bioavailability of gabapentin (the amount of the medication that is actually absorbed and used by the body) is less than that of pregabalin.

There are two issues associated with this:

  1. Only 60 percent of a dose of gabapentin is absorbed, while almost 90 percent of Lyrica is absorbed.
  2. The bioavailability of gabapentin does not increase proportionally as the dosage increases; in fact, it is the reverse - the absorption rate decreases as the dosage increases. The bioavailability of Lyrica holds steady at 90 percent, regardless of dosage.

Lyrica performs as well as gabapentin but at lower dosage amounts, and its effects last longer, which may help with controlling costs, as fewer and smaller doses may be needed.

Combatting Hidden Costs

Finally, those who were prescribed Lyrica instead of gabapentin saw a reduction in associated medical costs. There were fewer special visits to the doctor; and fewer tests and other procedures and services were required.

When all the costs associated with treating post-herpetic pain or epileptic seizures (the shared area of treatment for the two medications) are added up, those associated with Lyrica was slightly less than those for gabapentin. That, along with faster absorption and better performance characteristics, may actually make Lyrica’s total cost more economically viable than gabapentin. So, when it comes down to it, is Lyrica worth the cost? Many would argue, yes.

For more information about and free coupons and discounts for Lyrica and Gabapentin visit our drug pages related to each of these drugs here: Lyrica Drug Page and Gabapentin Drug Page.

By Diana, HelpRx Staff Blogger

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About the HelpRx.info Blog

HelpRx.info is staffed by experts in the prescription medication industry. Get the latest health, medical news and pharmaceutical news that can save you money and allow you to take charge of your healthcare. With frequent updates about the prescription drug industry as well as medicine news, you'll gain an insider look into the industry and learn more about how to get the best price on your prescriptions while not sacrificing quality. Subscribe to the HelpRx.info pharmacy blog through our RSS feed or get updates by liking HelpRx.info on Facebook and following HelpRx.info on Twitter.

About HelpRx

Our discounts provide you access to negotiated prices on your prescription drugs at your local pharmacy. We can provide these because we're partnered with OptumRx, a BIG pharmacy benefit provider that provides prescription coverage for MILLIONS of people like you.

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Script Relief, the creator of the NPSN card and HelpRx discounts, helps consumers save an average of 50%, and up to 75%, off their prescriptions.

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