Q: What is Neurontin?
A: Neurontin (gabapentin) is prescription medicine for treating some types of seizures in people with epilepsy. Neurontin cannot cure epilepsy, and will only work to control seizures for as long as you continue to take it. Neurontin is also used to manage a condition called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) (pain after "shingles"). Neurontin is manufactured by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, and was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993, to control seizures in epileptic patients.
Q: Has there been any recent news about Neurontin?
A: On January 31, 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors (suicidality) in patients who take drugs called antiepileptics to treat epilepsy, bipolar disorder, migraine headaches, and other conditions. The drugs that are subject to the warning include Neurontin. FDA analysis of recent studies showed patients taking antiepileptics had about twice the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, compared with patients receiving placebo. A number of lawsuits have been filed alleging that Neurontin causes suicidal or suicidal thoughts (called "suicidality"). Plaintiffs in these cases allege that Neurontin-maker Pfizer Pharmaceuticals failed to disclose the risk of suicidality.
In 2004, Pharmaceutical manufacturer Warner-Lambert, a subsidiary of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, agreed to plead guilty and to pay more than $430 million to resolve criminal charges and civil liability, in connection with the illegal and fraudulent promotion of Neurontin for unapproved uses.
Q: What precautions should I take before or while taking Neurontin?
A: Children between the ages of 3 and 12 may be sensitive to the effects of Neurontin, increasing the chance of side effects during treatment. Neurontin is removed from the body more slowly in elderly people, which can also increase the chance of unwanted effects. When taking Neurontin, it is important that your healthcare professional check your progress regularly, especially during the first few months of treatment. Stopping Neurontin suddenly may cause seizures to return, or to occur more often. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare professional about gradually reducing your dose.
Also, because Neurontin may cause vision problems, clumsiness, unsteadiness, dizziness, drowsiness, or trouble thinking, you should make sure you know how you react to Neurontin before you drive, use machines, or perform any activity that requires alertness, good coordination, or the ability to think and see well. Lastly, tell your healthcare professional that you are taking Neurontin before having any medical tests.
Q: What are the side effects associated with Neurontin?
A: Tell your healthcare professional if any of the following side effects associated with Neurontin use are severe or persistent: drowsiness; tiredness; weakness; dizziness; headache; uncontrolled shaking of a body part; double or blurred vision; unsteadiness; anxiety; memory problems; strange or unusual thoughts; unwanted eye movements; nausea; vomiting; heartburn; diarrhea; dry mouth; constipation; weight gain; swelling of the hands feet, ankles, or lower legs; back or joint pain; fever; runny nose, sneezing, cough, sore throat, or flu-like symptoms; ear pain; or red or itchy eyes.
You should call your healthcare professional immediately if you experience any of the following: rash; itching; swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs; hoarseness; difficulty swallowing or breathing; or seizures.
Q: Are there any interactions between Neurontin and other drugs or foods?
A: Neurontin and certain other medicines can interact with each other. Tell your healthcare professional about all the medicines you take - including prescription and non-prescription medicines - especially antacids and morphine. Neurontin will also add to the effects of alcohol and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants.
Q: What should I do if I think I have been injured as a result of using Neurontin?
A: If you or a loved one has experienced any dangerous symptoms or unusual medical conditions while taking Neurontin, you should first contact your doctor or other healthcare professional. It may also be in your best interests to meet with an experienced product liability attorney to learn more about your right to a legal remedy for any injuries. Under product liability law, manufacturers can be held liable for injuries caused by their products.