Neurontin is the trade name for a drug known as Gabapentin. Neurontin is also sold under the names Neogab, Fanatrex, Nupentin, and Gabarone. It was designed originally to treat epilepsy, but now is also used in the treatment of neuropathic pain. It is also being explored for use in a variety of other conditions.
Neurontin statistics show that it is an especially effective drug in the treatment of neuropathic pain or fibromyalgia. Neuropathic pain is pain that occurs due to damage to the nervous system caused often by stroke, spinal cord injury, or multiple sclerosis. Neuropathic pain can be extremely difficult, and resistant to typical pain treatments. Thus, neurontin has proven to be very helpful to those suffering from neuropathic pain.
Neurontin is made by Pfizer and was approved for sale in 1994. In 2004 the FDA allowed the manufacture of a generic form of the drug. It is currently on of the most frequently prescribed drugs in the United States. There is some criticism, however, of how Neurontin has been marketed. Specifically, Pfizer has faced criticism for marketing the drug for uses it had not gained FDA approval for. For instance, Neurontin is commonly used for migraines but it has never gained FDA approval for such an use.
These instances of off-label use have led to a number of lawsuits against Pfizer. In one case, Pfizer had to pay $430 million in fines and penalties because of misbranding.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding Neurontin now for its use in psychiatric conditions. Some studies in the 1990s found Neurontin to be effective in treating bipolar disorder, but since then those studies have not been able to be replicated. There is also an indication that Neurontin increases suicidal thoughts. Regardless, some doctors continue to prescribe it to treat mental health disorders.
Neurontin has psychoactive effects so it does have the potential to be abused. It can reduce both pain and anxiety at low doses and at high doses can cause a feeling of numbness. Users develop a tolerance to Neurontin very quickly. In other words, they must increase the amount of drug they take in order to get the same effect they got when they started taking it. Tolerance to Neurontin develops so quickly that users often have to double their dose after only a couple days of abusing it.
The side effects of Neurontin usage include fatigue, drowsiness, weight gain, and dizziness, but they mostly occur in elderly patients at high doses. The drug also can cause an increase in suicidal thoughts and the risk of violent death. A warning was issued in 2009 by the FDA regarding increased risk of depression following Neurontin usage. Since then, Pfizer has put a warning on the label to indicate this.
If you stop using Neurontin abruptly, withdrawal effects can occur. The withdrawal resembles that experienced from alcohol or benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium. In order to prevent withdrawal from occurring, one can slowly reduce the amount of Neurontin they are taking until it becomes negligible. If one stops taking it too abruptly, it can cause sleeplessness, anxiety, confusion, headaches, chest pain, hypertension, and flu symptoms. There have even been reports of seizures due to withdrawal.
Neurontin has been considered as a drug that might be able to reduce cocaine cravings. A study was conducted over a period of 24 weeks, and it found that, in 9 individuals in the midst of cocaine withdrawal, Neurontin reduced withdrawal effects. Thus, it is being further explored for treatment for recovering cocaine users.
Neurontin has been approved for use in treating focal seizures, or seizures that are localized to one area of the brain. It also may be effective in treating mixed and partial seizures. However, there is not enough evidence to support its use in the treatment of generalized epilepsy. For seizure disorders, it doesn't seem to be more effective than anticonvulsants.
All in all, there are some conditions where neurontin appears to be beneficial. Neurontin statistics show it can help with neuropathic pain especially, and some types of seizures. However, it has not been proven effective for many of the off-label uses it is prescribed for. Since it also has abuse potential, people should be very careful if prescribed Neurontin for something other than pain or seizures.