There is evidence from case reports, human studies, and animal studies associating gabapentin with serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression when coadministered with CNS depressants, including opioids, or in the setting of underlying respiratory impairment. When the decision is made to co-prescribe gabapentin with another CNS depressant, particularly an opioid, or to prescribe gabapentin to patients with underlying respiratory impairment, monitor patients for symptoms of respiratory depression and sedation, and consider initiating gabapentin at a low dose. The management of respiratory depression may include close observation, supportive measures, and reduction or withdrawal of CNS depressants (including gabapentin).
Gabapentin use in pediatric patients with epilepsy 3 to 12 years of age is associated with the occurrence of CNS related adverse reactions. The most significant of these can be classified into the following categories: 1) emotional lability (primarily behavioral problems), 2) hostility, including aggressive behaviors, 3) thought disorder, including concentration problems and change in school performance, and 4) hyperkinesia (primarily restlessness and hyperactivity). Among the gabapentin-treated patients, most of the reactions were mild to moderate in intensity.
In controlled clinical epilepsy trials in pediatric patients 3 to 12 years of age, the incidence of these adverse reactions was: emotional lability 6% (gabapentin-treated patients) versus 1.3% (placebo-treated patients); hostility 5.2% versus 1.3%; hyperkinesia 4.7% versus 2.9%; and thought disorder 1.7% versus 0%. One of these reactions, a report of hostility, was considered serious. Discontinuation of gabapentin treatment occurred in 1.3% of patients reporting emotional lability and hyperkinesia and 0.9% of gabapentin-treated patients reporting hostility and thought disorder. One placebo-treated patient (0.4%) withdrew due to emotional lability.
In an oral carcinogenicity study, gabapentin increased the incidence of pancreatic acinar cell tumors in rats [see Nonclinical Toxicology (13.1)]. The clinical significance of this finding is unknown. Clinical experience during gabapentin’s premarketing development provides no direct means to assess its potential for inducing tumors in humans.
In clinical studies in adjunctive therapy in epilepsy comprising 2,085 patient-years of exposure in patients >12 years of age, new tumors were reported in 10 patients (2 breast, 3 brain, 2 lung, 1 adrenal, 1 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, 1 endometrial carcinoma in situ), and preexisting tumors worsened in 11 patients (9 brain, 1 breast, 1 prostate) during or up to 2 years following discontinuation of gabapentin. Without knowledge of the background incidence and recurrence in a similar population not treated with gabapentin, it is impossible to know whether the incidence seen in this cohort is or is not affected by treatment.
During the course of premarketing development of gabapentin, 8 sudden and unexplained deaths were recorded among a cohort of 2,203 epilepsy patients treated (2,103 patient-years of exposure) with gabapentin.
Some of these could represent seizure-related deaths in which the seizure was not observed, e.g., at night. This represents an incidence of 0.0038 deaths per patient-year. Although this rate exceeds that expected in a healthy population matched for age and sex, it is within the range of estimates for the incidence of sudden unexplained deaths in patients with epilepsy not receiving gabapentin (ranging from 0.0005 for the general population of epileptics to 0.003 for a clinical trial population similar to that in the gabapentin program, to 0.005 for patients with refractory epilepsy). Consequently, whether these figures are reassuring or raise further concern depends on comparability of the populations reported upon to the gabapentin cohort and the accuracy of the estimates provided.
- Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS)/Multiorgan Hypersensitivity [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)]
- Anaphylaxis and Angioedema [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)]
- Somnolence/Sedation and Dizziness [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4)]
- Withdrawal Precipitated Seizure, Status Epilepticus [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)]
- Suicidal Behavior and Ideation [see Warnings and Precautions (5.6)]
- Respiratory Depression [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7)]
- Neuropsychiatric Adverse Reactions (Pediatric Patients 3 to 12 Years of Age) [see Warnings and Precautions (5.8)]
- Sudden and Unexplained Death in Patients with Epilepsy [see Warnings and Precautions (5.10)]
Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.
The most common adverse reactions associated with the use of gabapentin in adults, not seen at an equivalent frequency among placebo-treated patients, were dizziness, somnolence, and peripheral edema.
In the 2 controlled trials in postherpetic neuralgia, 16% of the 336 patients who received gabapentin and 9% of the 227 patients who received placebo discontinued treatment because of an adverse reaction. The adverse reactions that most frequently led to withdrawal in gabapentin-treated patients were dizziness, somnolence, and nausea.
Table 3 lists adverse reactions that occurred in at least 1% of gabapentin-treated patients with postherpetic neuralgia participating in placebo-controlled trials and that were numerically more frequent in the gabapentin group than in the placebo group.
TABLE 3. Adverse Reactions in Pooled Placebo-Controlled Trials in Postherpetic Neuralgia
|Gabapentin N=336 %||Placebo N=227 %|
|Body as a Whole|
|Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders|
There were no clinically important differences between men and women in the types and incidence of adverse reactions. Because there were few patients whose race was reported as other than white, there are insufficient data to support a statement regarding the distribution of adverse reactions by race.
Epilepsy with Partial Onset Seizures (Adjunctive Therapy)
The most common adverse reactions with gabapentin in combination with other antiepileptic drugs in patients >12 years of age, not seen at an equivalent frequency among placebo-treated patients, were somnolence, dizziness, ataxia, fatigue, and nystagmus.
The most common adverse reactions with gabapentin in combination with other antiepileptic drugs in pediatric patients 3 to 12 years of age, not seen at an equal frequency among placebo-treated patients, were viral infection, fever, nausea and/or vomiting, somnolence, and hostility [see Warnings and Precautions (5.8)].
Approximately 7% of the 2,074 patients >12 years of age and approximately 7% of the 449 pediatric patients 3 to 12 years of age who received gabapentin in premarketing clinical trials discontinued treatment because of an adverse reaction. The adverse reactions most commonly associated with withdrawal in patients >12 years of age were somnolence (1.2%), ataxia (0.8%), fatigue (0.6%), nausea and/or vomiting (0.6%), and dizziness (0.6%). The adverse reactions most commonly associated with withdrawal in pediatric patients were emotional lability (1.6%), hostility (1.3%), and hyperkinesia (1.1%).
Table 4 lists adverse reactions that occurred in at least 1% of gabapentin-treated patients >12 years of age with epilepsy participating in placebo-controlled trials and were numerically more common in the gabapentin group. In these studies, either gabapentin or placebo was added to the patient’s current antiepileptic drug therapy.
TABLE 4. Adverse Reactions in Pooled Placebo-Controlled Add-On Trials In Epilepsy Patients >12 years of age
|Gabapentin * N=543 %||Placebo * N=378 %|
|Body as a Whole|
|Dry Mouth or Throat||2||1|
|Skin and Appendages|
The overall incidence of adverse reactions and the types of adverse reactions seen were similar among men and women treated with gabapentin. The incidence of adverse reactions increased slightly with increasing age in patients treated with either gabapentin or placebo. Because only 3% of patients (28/921) in placebo-controlled studies were identified as nonwhite (black or other), there are insufficient data to support a statement regarding the distribution of adverse reactions by race.
Table 5 lists adverse reactions that occurred in at least 2% of gabapentin -treated patients, age 3 to 12 years of age with epilepsy participating in placebo-controlled trials, and which were numerically more common in the gabapentin group.
Table 5. Adverse Reactions in a Placebo-Controlled Add-On Trial in Pediatric Epilepsy Patients Age 3 to 12 Years
|Gabapentin * N=119 %||Placebo * N=128 %|
|Body As A Whole|
|Nausea and/or Vomiting||8||7|
Other reactions in more than 2% of pediatric patients 3 to 12 years of age but equally or more frequent in the placebo group included: pharyngitis, upper respiratory infection, headache, rhinitis, convulsions, diarrhea, anorexia, coughing, and otitis media.
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