Gabapentin Side Effects

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Gabapentin side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to gabapentin: hives; fever; swollen glands; painful sores in or around your eyes or mouth; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

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Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, depression, or if you feel agitated, hostile, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • increased seizures;
  • fever, swollen glands, body aches, flu symptoms;
  • skin rash, easy bruising or bleeding, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness;
  • upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • chest pain, irregular heart rhythm, feeling short of breath;
  • confusion, nausea and vomiting, swelling, rapid weight gain, urinating less than usual or not at all;
  • new or worsening cough, fever, trouble breathing;
  • rapid back and forth movement of your eyes; or
  • severe skin reaction — fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.

Some side effects are more likely in children taking gabapentin. Contact your doctor if the child taking this medication has any of the following side effects:

  • changes in behavior;
  • memory problems;
  • trouble concentrating; or
  • acting restless, hostile, or aggressive.

Common gabapentin side effects may include:

  • dizziness, drowsiness;
  • dry mouth, blurred vision;
  • headache;
  • diarrhea; or
  • swelling in your hands or feet.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Commonly Observed Adverse Events

The most commonly observed adverse events associated with the use of Neurontin (gabapentin) in combination with other antiepileptic drugs, not seen at an equivalent frequency in placebo-treated patients, were somnolence, dizziness, ataxia, fatigue, nystagmus and tremor
(See Table 1).

Adverse Events Leading to Discontinuation of Treatment

Approximately 6.4% of the 543 patients who received Neurontin in the placebo-controlled studies withdrew due to adverse events. In comparison, approximately 4.5% of the 378 placebo-controlled participants withdrew due to adverse events during these studies. The adverse events most commonly associated with withdrawal were somnolence (1.2%), ataxia (0.8%), fatigue, nausea and/or vomiting and dizziness (all at 0.6%).

Clinical Trial Adverse Drug Reactions

Because clinical trials are conducted under very specific conditions the adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials may not reflect the rates observed in practice and should not be compared to the rates in the clinical trials of another drug. Adverse drug reaction information from clinical trials is useful for identifying drug-related adverse events and for approximating rates.

Incidence in Controlled Clinical Trials


Multiple doses of Neurontin were administered to 543 subjects with partial seizures in placebo controlled clinical trials of 12 weeks duration. In these studies, either Neurontin (at doses of 600, 900, 1200 or 1800 mg/day) or placebo was added to the patient’s current antiepileptic drug therapy. Treatment-emergent signs and symptoms that occurred in at least 1% of patients participating in these studies are listed in Table 1.

Table 1
Treatment-Emergent Adverse Event Incidence in Placebo-Controlled Add-On Trials (Events in at Least 1% of Neurontin Patients and Numerically More Frequent than in the Placebo Group)
n= 543 (%)
n= 378 (%)
Body as a Whole
Fatigue 11.0 5.0
Weight Increase 2.9 1.6
Back Pain 1.8 0.5
Peripheral Edema 1.7 0.5
Vasodilatation 1.1 0.3
Digestive System
Dyspepsia 2.2 0.5
Mouth or Throat Dry 1.7 0.5
Constipation 1.5 0.8
Dental Abnormalities 1.5 0.3
Increased Appetite 1.1 0.8
Hematologic and Lymphatic Systems:
Leukopenia 1.1 0.5
Myalgia 2.0 1.9
Fracture 1.1 0.8
Nervous System
Somnolence 19.3 8.7
Dizziness 17.1 6.9
Ataxia 12.5 5.6
Nystagmus 8.3 4.0
Tremor 6.8 3.2
Nervousness 2.4 1.9
Dysarthria 2.4 0.5
Amnesia 2.2 0.0
Depression 1.8 1.1
Thinking Abnormal 1.7 1.3
Twitching 1.3 0.5
Coordination Abnormal 1.1 0.3
Respiratory System
Rhinitis 4.1 3.7
Pharyngitis 2.8 1.6
Coughing 1.8 1.3
Skin and Appendages
Abrasion 1.3 0.0
Pruritus 1.3 0.5
Urogenital System
Impotence 1.5 1.1
Special Senses
Diplopia 5.9 1.9
Amblyopia 4.2 1.1
Laboratory Deviations
WBC Decreased 1.1 0.5
Plus background antiepileptic drug therapy.
Since Neurontin was administered most often in combination with other antiepileptic agents, it was not possible to determine which agent(s) was associated with adverse events.

Dose-Related Treatment Emergent Adverse Events

Among the treatment-emergent adverse events occurring in Neurontin-treated patients, somnolence and ataxia appeared to exhibit a positive dose-response relationship. Patients treated with 1800 mg/day (n=54, from one controlled study) experienced approximately a two-fold increase, as compared to patients on lower doses of 600 to 1200 mg/day (n=489, from several controlled studies), in the incidence of nystagmus (20.4%), tremor (14.8%), rhinitis (13%), peripheral edema (7.4%), coordination abnormal, depression and myalgia (all at 5.6%). Adverse events were usually mild to moderate in intensity, with a median time to resolution of 2 weeks.

Data from long-term, open, uncontrolled studies shows that Neurontin treatment does not result in any new or unusual adverse events.

Other Adverse Events Observed in All Clinical Trials

Adverse events that occurred in at least 1% of the 2074 individuals who participated in all clinical trials, only some of which were placebo-controlled, are described below. During these trials, all adverse events were recorded by the clinical investigators using terminology of their own choosing. To provide a meaningful estimate of the proportion of individuals having adverse events, similar types of events were grouped into a smaller number of standardized categories using modified COSTART dictionary terminology. These categories are used in the listing below. The frequencies presented represent the proportion of the 2074 patients exposed to Neurontin who experienced an event of the type cited on at least one occasion while receiving Neurontin. All reported events are included except those already listed in Table 1, those too general to be informative, and those not reasonably associated with the use of the drug.

Events are further classified within body system categories and enumerated in order of decreasing frequency using the following definitions: frequent adverse events are defined as those occurring in at least 1/100 patients; infrequent adverse events are those occurring in 1/100 to 1/1000 patients; rare events are those occurring in fewer than 1/1000 patients.

Body As A Whole: Frequent: asthenia, malaise, face edema; Infrequent: allergy, generalized edema, weight decrease, chill; Rare: strange feelings, lassitude, alcohol intolerance, hangover effect.

Cardiovascular System: Frequent: hypertension; Infrequent: hypotension, angina pectoris, peripheral vascular disorder, palpitation, tachycardia, migraine, murmur; Rare: atrial fibrillation, heart failure, thrombophlebitis, deep thrombophlebitis, myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accident, pulmonary thrombosis, ventricular extrasystoles, bradycardia, premature atrial contraction, pericardial rub, heart block, pulmonary embolus, hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, pericardial effusion, pericarditis.

Digestive System: Frequent: anorexia, flatulence, gingivitis; Infrequent: glossitis, gum hemorrhage, thirst, stomatitis, increased salivation, gastroenteritis, hemorrhoids, bloody stools, fecal incontinence, hepatomegaly; Rare: dysphagia, eructation, pancreatitis, peptic ulcer, colitis, blisters in mouth, tooth discolor, Perleche, salivary gland enlarged, lip hemorrhage, esophagitis, hiatal hernia, hematemesis, proctitis, irritable bowel syndrome, rectal hemorrhage, esophageal spasm.

Endocrine System: Rare: hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, goiter, hypoestrogen, ovarian failure, epididymitis, swollen testicle, cushingoid appearance.

Hematologic and Lymphatic System: Frequent: purpura most often described as bruises resulting from physical trauma; Infrequent: anemia, thrombocytopenia, lymphadenopathy; Rare: WBC count increased, lymphocytosis, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, bleeding time increased.

Musculoskeletal System: Frequent: arthralgia; Infrequent: tendinitis, arthritis, joint stiffness, joint swelling, positive Romberg test; Rare: costochondritis, osteoporosis, bursitis, contracture.

Nervous System: Frequent: vertigo, hyperkinesia, paresthesia, decreased or absent reflexes, increased reflexes, anxiety, hostility; Infrequent: CNS tumors, syncope, dreaming abnormal, aphasia, hypesthesia, intracranial hemorrhage, hypotonia, dysesthesia, paresis, dystonia, hemiplegia, facial paralysis, stupor, cerebellar dysfunction, positive Babinski sign, decreased position sense, subdural hematoma, apathy, hallucination, decrease or loss of libido, agitation, paranoia, depersonalization, euphoria, feeling high, doped-up sensation, suicide attempt, psychosis; Rare: choreoathetosis, orofacial dyskinesia, encephalopathy, nerve palsy, personality disorder, increased libido, subdued temperament, apraxia, fine motor control disorder, meningismus, local myoclonus, hyperesthesia, hypokinesia, mania, neurosis, hysteria, antisocial reaction, suicide.

Respiratory System: Frequent: pneumonia; Infrequent: epistaxis, dyspnea, apnea; Rare: mucositis, aspiration pneumonia, hyperventilation, hiccup, laryngitis, nasal obstruction, snoring, bronchospasm, hypoventilation, lung edema.

Dermatological: Infrequent: alopecia, eczema, dry skin, increased sweating, urticaria, hirsutism, seborrhea, cyst, herpes simplex; Rare: herpes zoster, skin discolor, skin papules, photosensitive reaction, leg ulcer, scalp seborrhea, psoriasis, desquamation, maceration, skin nodules, subcutaneous nodule, melanosis, skin necrosis, local swelling.

Urogenital System: Infrequent: hematuria, dysuria, urination frequency, cystitis, urinary retention, urinary incontinence, vaginal hemorrhage, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, breast cancer, unable to climax, ejaculation abnormal; Rare: kidney pain, leukorrhea, pruritus genital, renal stone, acute renal failure, anuria, glycosuria, nephrosis, nocturia, pyuria, urination urgency, vaginal pain, breast pain, testicle pain.

Special Senses: Frequent: abnormal vision; Infrequent: cataract, conjunctivitis, eyes dry, eye pain, visual field defect, photophobia, bilateral or unilateral ptosis, eye hemorrhage, hordeolum, hearing loss, earache, tinnitus, inner ear infection, otitis, taste loss, unusual taste, eye twitching, ear fullness; Rare: eye itching, abnormal accommodation, perforated ear drum, sensitivity to noise, eye focusing problem, watery eyes, retinopathy, glaucoma, iritis, corneal disorders, lacrimal dysfunction, degenerative eye changes, blindness, retinal degeneration, miosis, chorioretinitis, strabismus, eustachian tube dysfunction, labyrinthitis, otitis externa, odd smell.

Post-Market Adverse Drug Reactions

Sudden, unexplained deaths in patients with epilepsy have been reported where a causal relationship to treatment with gabapentin has not been established.

Post-marketing adverse events that have been reported, which may have no causal relationship to gabapentin, are as follows: agitation, anaphylactic reaction, angioedema, blood creatine phosphokinase increased, blood glucose abnormal, drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms, fall, gynaecomastia, hepatic function abnormal, hepatitis, hepatitis cholestatic, hepatitis fulminant, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, hypersensitivity, hyponatremia, jaundice, loss of consciousness, pancreatitis, pulmonary oedema, renal failure acute, rhabdomyolysis, sexual dysfunction (including changes in libido, ejaculation disorders and anorgasmia), Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

Adverse events following the abrupt discontinuation of gabapentin have also been reported during postmarketing experience. The most frequently reported events were anxiety, insomnia, nausea, pain and sweating.

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Gabapentin Dosing Information

Usual Adult Dose of Gabapentin for Epilepsy:

Initial dose: 300 mg orally on day one, 300 mg orally twice a day on day two, then 300 mg orally 3 times a day on day three.
Maintenance dose: 900 to 1800 mg orally in 3 divided doses. If necessary, the dose may be increased using 300 mg or 400 mg capsules three times a day up to 1800 mg/day. Dosages up to 2400 mg/day have been well tolerated in long-term clinical studies. Doses of 3600 mg/day have also been administered to a small number of patients for a relatively short duration, and have been well tolerated. The maximum time between doses in the three times a day schedule should not exceed 12 hours.

The safety and effectiveness of gabapentin available under the trade name Gralise (R) or Horizant (R) in patients with epilepsy has not been studied.

Usual Adult Dose for Postherpetic Neuralgia:

Initial dose: 300 mg orally on day one, 300 mg orally twice a day on day two, then 300 mg orally 3 times a day on day three.

The dose may be titrated up as needed for pain relief to a daily dose of 1800 mg.
Maintenance dose: 900 to 1800 mg orally in 3 divided doses.

Efficacy was demonstrated in clinical studies over a range of 1800 mg/day to 3600 mg/day. However, no additional benefit was demonstrated from the use of doses over 1800 mg/day.

Gabapentin available under the trade name Gralise (R):

Maintenance dose: Gralise (R) should be titrated to 1800 mg orally once daily with the evening meal.

Recommended titration schedule:
Day 1: 300 mg orally with the evening meal
Day 2: 600 mg orally with the evening meal
Days 3 through 6: 900 mg orally with the evening meal
Days 7 through 10: 1200 mg orally with the evening meal
Days 11 through 14: 1500 mg orally with the evening meal
Day 15: 1800 mg orally with the evening meal

Gralise (R) is not interchangeable with other gabapentin products because of differing pharmacokinetic profiles that affect the frequency of administration.

Gabapentin enacarbil extended release tablets available under the trade name Horizant (R):

The recommended dosage is 600 mg orally twice daily. Therapy should be initiated at a dose of 600 mg orally in the morning for 3 days of therapy, then increased to 600 mg twice daily (1,200 mg/day) on day four.

Gabapentin enacarbil extended release tablets available under the trade name Horizant (R) and gabapentin are not interchangeable.

Usual Adult Dose for Restless Legs Syndrome:

Gabapentin enacarbil available under the trade name Horizant (R):
600 mg orally once daily with food at about 5 PM

Usual Pediatric Dose for Epilepsy:

Less than 3 years: Effectiveness has not been established.

Greater than or equal to 3 and less than 12 years:
Starting Dose: ranges from 10 to 15 mg/kg/day in 3 divided doses.
Effective Dose: reached by upward titration over a period of approximately 3 days. The effective dose of gabapentin in patients 5 years of age and older is 25 to 35 mg/kg/day and given in divided doses (three times a day). The effective dose in pediatric patients ages 3 and 4 years is 40 mg/kg/day and given in divided doses (three times a day). Gabapentin may be administered as the oral solution, capsule, or tablet, or using combinations of these formulations. Dosages up to 50 mg/kg/day have been well tolerated in a long term clinical study. The maximum time interval between doses should not exceed 12 hours.

Greater than 12 years:
Initial dose: 300 mg orally on day one, 300 mg orally twice a day on day two, then 300 mg orally 3 times a day on day three.
Maintenance dose: 900 to 1800 mg orally in 3 divided doses. If necessary, the dose may be increased using 300 mg or 400 mg capsules three times a day up to 1800 mg/day. Dosages up to 2400 mg/day have been well tolerated in long term clinical studies. Doses of 3600 mg/day have also been administered to a small number of patients for a relatively short duration, and have been well tolerated. The maximum time between doses in the three times a day schedule should not exceed 12 hours.