A British man believes he went from straight to gay as a result of taking the painkiller Pregabalin, also known as Lyrica, according to UK news outlet Pink News. And he's very OK with his new life.
Scott Purdy, 23, wanted pain relief after breaking his foot in a go-carting accident. Soon after, "I noticed my libido for women had gone and I was wanting male attention," he told UK rag Mirror__. "I want to keep on taking it because it makes me feel happy about my sexuality. It’s made me feel very open. It’s liberating."
Purdy, from Lincolnshire, said he had been with his then-girlfriend for six months at the time, and despite some curiosity when he was younger he had "never been interested in men".
But, "A couple of weeks after I started taking it," he explained, "I turned around and said I didn't find her physically attractive anymore... I said to her, 'I don’t really know what’s happening to me and I told her I like men and I just can’t be with you.'"
Apparently Purdy's girlfriend was "relatively understanding".
Purdy made his alleged drug-induced sexuality swap public (first on Facebook, then to media) because, as he told Mirror, "I just think people should know about this. If anyone gets prescribed this in the future, I think they should know what this medication can do."
He alleges that when he stopped taking the drugs for a few weeks, his desire for men went away. But then he went back on the drug and is "very happy". He's currently courting a man through dating site Plenty of Fish, and says, "It’s really what I’m craving right now... I’m not angry [about what happened] because it’s made me who I am.”
According to NPS Medicine Wise, Lyrica is an anticonvulsant and anti-epileptic drug used to treat neuropathic pain, which is caused by an abnormality of, or damage to, the nerves. Off-label, the drug also has pain-relieving qualities. Potential side effects include dizziness and fatigue.
British doctor Ranj Singh, himself gay, told Purdy on ITV show This Morning that he didn't believe the drug could affect someone's sexuality. Instead, he suggested that "Pregabalin calms the nerves and there are a range of side effects and a rare one could be sexual function ...
"Some people get a loss of libido... what that probably does is allow you to express what was already there and be your true self."
In a statement to Pink News, Pfizer said: “When prescribed and administered appropriately as per the approved label, Lyrica® (pregabalin) is an important and effective treatment option for many people living with chronic neuropathic pain, generalised anxiety disorder and epilepsy.
“The clinical effectiveness of this medicine has been demonstrated in a large number of robust clinical trials among thousands of patients living with these conditions... To date, the worldwide exposure to pregabalin is an estimated 34 million patient years.”
Pfizer also recommended that patients experiencing “any unexpected side effects” see a doctor immediately: “Patient safety is, and will always be, Pfizer’s utmost priority... We work with regulatory authorities around the world to continuously evaluate and monitor safety for each and every Pfizer medicine through ongoing clinical research, analysis and surveillance.”
When asked by Pink News if the drug could turn someone gay, a spokesperson for the company responded: “We have no further comment to add in relation to this story.”