Most patients probably wouldn’t think twice about taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve aches and pains. But a stronger pain medication could place you at a great risk of harm—and it increases the odds that the harm would be self-inflicted.
Gabapentin, also known by its trademark name Neurontin, has been linked to depression and severe risk of suicide in patients taking the drug. Not only does the medication carry severe emotional side effects, the manufacturer allegedly promoted off-label uses of the drug, making it more likely that patients will suffer emotional and physical harm.
Here is a quick rundown of the facts about gabapentin and Neurontin:
- What is it for? Gabapentin was approved by the FDA as an epilepsy treatment and pain medication for patients with severe shingles (post herpetic neuralgia) in the late 1990s.
- Why did my doctor recommend it? Doctors should have prescribed gabapentin only for the above uses. However, physicians have prescribed gabapentin for a wide range of uses, including fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, restless leg syndrome, and insomnia.
- Why is it prescribed for other conditions? Warner-Lambert, the manufacturer of Neurontin, illegally promoted the medication as suitable for off-label uses. The pharmaceutical company claimed that the medication could successfully treat many health problems such as pain, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and migraine headaches.
- What does the FDA say? The FDA has only approved gabapentin for epilepsy and nerve pain caused by shingles. In 2009, the FDA warned patients and medical professionals that Neurontin and other anti-epilepsy drugs can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior, and can lead to severe depression and mood changes.
- Are there other side effects? In addition to increased risk of emotional distress and self-harm, gabapentin can cause fatigue, swollen feet and ankles, dizziness, drowsiness, digestive problems, and problems with sexual performance.
- Is the manufacturer responsible? Pfizer, the parent company of Warner-Lambert, pleaded guilty to illegally promoting off-label uses of gabapentin in 2004 and again in 2014, paying two separate settlements totaling over $750 million.
What If Someone in My Family Committed Suicide While Taking Neurontin?
You should speak with an attorney right away if someone you love inflicted self-harm while taking gabapentin. The dangerous drugs attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP can investigate your case and get justice for your loved one at no cost to you. Call 800-237-3334 today to begin your free case evaluation!