In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do.

gabapentin
gabapentin

Gabapentin comes as a capsule, a tablet, an extended-release (long-acting) tablet, and an oral solution (liquid) to take by mouth. Gabapentin capsules, tablets, and oral solution are usually taken with a full glass of water (8 ounces [240 milliliters]), with or without food, three times a day.

These medications should be taken at evenly spaced times throughout the day and night; no more than 12 hours should pass between doses. The extended-release tablet (Horizant) is taken with food once daily at about 5 PM. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take gabapentin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Gabapentin extended-release tablets cannot be substituted for another type of gabapentin product. Be sure that you receive only the type of gabapentin that was prescribed by your doctor. Ask your pharmacist if you have any questions about the type of gabapentin you were given.

Swallow the extended-release tablets whole; do not cut, chew, or crush them.

If your doctor tells you to take one-half of a regular tablet as part of your dose, carefully split the tablet along the score mark. Use the other half-tablet as part of your next dose. Properly dispose of any half-tablets that you have not used within several days of breaking them.

If you are taking gabapentin to control seizures or PHN, your doctor will probably start you on a low dose of gabapentin and gradually increase your dose as needed to treat your condition. If you are taking gabapentin to treat PHN, tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve during your treatment.

Gabapentin may help to control your condition but will not cure it. Continue to take gabapentin even if you feel well. Do not stop taking gabapentin without talking to your doctor, even if you experience side effects such as unusual changes in behavior or mood. If you suddenly stop taking gabapentin tablets, capsules, or oral solution, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, nausea, pain, and sweating. If you are taking gabapentin to treat seizures and you suddenly stop taking the medication, you may experience seizures more often. Your doctor may decrease your dose gradually over at least a week.

Your doctor or pharmacist will give you the manufacturer’s patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment with gabapentin and each time you refill your prescription. Read the information carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website (http://www.fda.gov/Drugs) or the manufacturer’s website to obtain the Medication Guide.

This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For gabapentin, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to gabapentin or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of gabapentin for treating partial seizures in children. However, safety and efficacy have not been established in children younger than 3 years of age.

Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of gabapentin for treating postherpetic neuralgia in children. Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Geriatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of gabapentin in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have unwanted effects (eg, problems with balance or walking, swelling in the feet or legs) and age-related kidney problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving gabapentin.

Pregnancy

PREGNANCY CATEGORY EXPLANATION
All Trimesters C Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.

Breast Feeding

There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Interactions with Medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking gabapentin, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using gabapentin with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

      • Ketorolac
      • Orlistat

Using gabapentin with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

      • Aluminum Carbonate, Basic
      • Aluminum Hydroxide
      • Aluminum Phosphate
      • Dihydroxyaluminum Aminoacetate
      • Dihydroxyaluminum Sodium Carbonate
      • Ginkgo
      • Magaldrate
      • Magnesium Carbonate
      • Magnesium Hydroxide
      • Magnesium Oxide
      • Magnesium Trisilicate
      • Morphine
      • Morphine Sulfate Liposome

Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other Medical Problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of gabapentin. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Depression, history of or
  • Mood or mental changes, history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
  • Kidney disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking gabapentin,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to gabapentin, any other medications, or any of the inactive ingredients in the type of gabapentin you plan to take. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the inactive ingredients.
  • you should know that gabapentin is available in different forms that may be prescribed for different uses. Ask your doctor to be sure that you are not taking more than one product that contains gabapentin.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: antidepressants; antihistamines; medications for anxiety; medications that make you feel dizzy or drowsy; medications for mental illness; naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, others); opioid (narcotic) medications for pain such as hydrocodone (in Hydrocet, in Vicodin, others), morphine (Avinza, Kadian, MSIR, others), or oxycodone OxyContin, in Percocet, in Roxicet, others); sedatives; medications for seizures; sleeping pills, and tranquilizers. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • if you are taking antacids such as Maalox or Mylanta, take them at least 2 hours before you take gabapentin tablets, capsules, or solution.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had lung or kidney disease. If you will be taking the extended-release tablets, also tell your doctor if you need to sleep during the day and stay awake at night.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking gabapentin, call your doctor.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking gabapentin.
  • you should know that this medication may make you drowsy or dizzy, may slow your thinking, and may cause loss of coordination. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you, and your doctor agrees that it is safe for you to begin these activities.
  • if you are giving gabapentin to your child, you should know that your child’s behavior and mental abilities may change while he or she is taking gabapentin. Your child may have sudden changes in mood, become hostile or hyperactive, have difficulty concentrating or paying attention, or be drowsy or clumsy. Have your child avoid activities that could be dangerous, such as riding a bicycle, until you know how gabapentin affects him or her.
  • remember that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this medication.
  • you should know that your mental health may change in unexpected ways and you may become suicidal (thinking about harming or killing yourself or planning or trying to do so) while you are taking gabapentin for the treatment of epilepsy, mental illness, or other conditions. A small number of adults and children 5 years of age and older (about 1 in 500 people) who took anticonvulsants such as gabapentin to treat various conditions during clinical studies became suicidal during their treatment. Some of these people developed suicidal thoughts and behavior as early as one week after they started taking the medication. There is a risk that you may experience changes in your mental health if you take an anticonvulsant medication such as gabapentin, but there may also be a risk that you will experience changes in your mental health if your condition is not treated. You and your doctor will decide whether the risks of taking an anticonvulsant medication are greater than the risks of not taking the medication. You, your family, or your caregiver should call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: panic attacks; agitation or restlessness; new or worsening irritability, anxiety, or depression; acting on dangerous impulses; difficulty falling or staying asleep; aggressive, angry, or violent behavior; mania (frenzied, abnormally excited mood); talking or thinking about wanting to hurt yourself or end your life; withdrawing from friends and family; preoccupation with death and dying; giving away prized possessions; or any other unusual changes in behavior or mood. Be sure that your family or caregiver knows which symptoms may be serious so they can call the doctor if you are unable to seek treatment on your own.