Gabapentin for Epilepsy
Gabapentin comes in
capsules and pills.
How It Works
It is not known exactly how gabapentin
Why It Is Used
Gabapentin may be used alone or
combined with other antiepileptic medicines to control
partial seizures in adults and in children ages 3 and
How Well It Works
People taking gabapentin in
addition to other antiepileptic medicines may have fewer seizures.1
Gabapentin has not been shown to be effective
for treating primary
generalized seizures or childhood
Gabapentin is a well-tolerated drug that
usually causes only mild side effects. These often go away in 1 to 2 weeks
- Drowsiness and
- Weight gain.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a
warning on antiepileptic medicines and the risk of suicide and suicidal
thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines.
Instead, people who take antiepileptic medicine should be watched closely for
warning signs of suicide. People who take
antiepileptic medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk
to a doctor.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects.
(Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
It may take
time and careful, controlled adjustments by you and your doctor to find the
combination, schedule, and dosing of medicine to best manage your epilepsy. The
goal is to prevent seizures while causing as few side effects as
you and your doctor figure out the medicine program that works best for you, make sure to follow your program exactly as prescribed.
Drug interactions. Many medicines for epilepsy can
interact with other medicines you are taking. This means that your epilepsy
medicine may not work as well, or it may affect the way another medicine you
are taking works. Some of these interactions can be dangerous. It is important
to tell your doctor about all the medicines, herbal pills, and dietary
supplements you are taking. Gabapentin may be a good choice
if you are taking medicines for other conditions, because it does not interact
with many other medicines.
Risk of birth defects. All medicines for epilepsy
have some risk of birth defects. But the risk of birth defects needs to be
carefully compared to other risks to the baby if the mother stops taking her
epilepsy medicine. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, be sure to plan ahead and talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking
epilepsy medicine during your pregnancy. It you are already pregnant, it is not
too late. The best thing to do is talk to your doctor about your pregnancy
before you make any changes to the medicines you are taking.
Other concerns. For some people, gabapentin may
produce side effects or carry risks that are not fully known yet. Report any
unexpected side effects or problems to your doctor.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Jarrar RG, Buchhalter JR (2003). Therapeutics in
pediatric epilepsy, part 1: The new antiepileptic drugs and the ketogenic diet.
Mayo Clinical Procedures, 78(3): 359–370.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Steven C. Schachter, MD - Neurology
||August 26, 2011