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Gabitril / Tiagabine Hydrochloride

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1 Gabitril / Tiagabine Hydrochloride on Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:15 pm


Gabitril (GAB-ih-tril) is the brand name for the seizure medicine tiagabine (tie-AG-ah-bean) hydrochloride (HI-droh-KLOR-ide), or just tiagabine. Gabitril is available in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, but not in Canada.

Gabitril first was approved in Europe in 1996 and was approved by the FDA for use in the United States in 1997. At that time it was marketed by Abbott Laboratories, but in 2001 the rights to market this medication were purchased by Cephalon, Inc. The identification on the tablets changed but they stayed the same in all other ways.

Gabitril increases the concentration of a chemical in the brain called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means that when GABA is transmitted from one brain cell to another, the second brain cell is less likely to fire and be part of a seizure. Gabitril increases the GABA that is available to have this effect.

Many people who take Gabitril (tiagabine) don't report any unwanted side effects. Those who experience undesirable effects most often complain of:

difficulty concentrating

Some of these problems become more severe when higher doses of Gabitril are taken, or when the dosage is increased rapidly.

During scientific studies in which some people took Gabitril in addition to their regular seizure medicine and some took an inactive substitute (a placebo) instead of Gabitril, 27% of the people taking Gabitril reported dizziness (as did 15% of those taking the placebo). The other side effects were even less common. So you can see that side effects are not a serious problem for most people. They were bad enough so that 1 person in 5 stopped taking the Gabitril, however.

You should be careful when you first start taking Gabitril. Make sure you don't have a problem with sleepiness or dizziness when driving or doing anything else that might be dangerous.

Some other side effects mentioned even less often were:

weakness (for example, sometimes people say that a knee buckled)

If you notice problems like any of these while you are taking Gabitril, it's probably a good idea to discuss them with your doctor or nurse. Sometimes the doctor can help with these side effects by changing the prescription:

reducing the overall dose
changing the amount taken at certain times, such as taking a greater proportion of the Gabitril at bedtime to reduce daytime sleepiness
prescribing smaller doses, to be taken more often

Don't stop taking Gabitril or change the amount you take or when you take it without your doctor's guidance.

Be sure to read about the serious side effects so you will be aware of a few problems that could arise when you take Gabitril. These serious problems are very rare but everyone who takes this medicine should at least be aware of them.

Allergic reactions
There do not appear to be any allergic reactions to Gabitril.

Long-term side effects
There are no known long-term side effects of Gabitril.

Pregnancy Category C. This indicates that caution is advised, but the benefits of the medication may outweigh the potential risks. There have been no well-controlled studies in women, so the risks to the fetus are unknown.

The risk of birth defects is generally higher for women who take more than one AED and for women with a family history of birth defects.

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