Lamictal is used to treat epileptic seizures in adults and children. It has also been used to delay mood episodes in adults with bipolar disorder. It is classified as an anti-epileptic and anticonvulsant. Lamictal is sold and manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and was first approved by the FDA in 1994. Between 1994 and 2009, there were 46 million Lamictal prescriptions dispensed to patients.
Lamictal has been linked to suicidal thoughts, birth defects and meningitis.
In 2006, the FDA sent a warning to healthcare providers stating that a link had been discovered between birth defects and the use of Lamictal. When looking at records in the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry (NAAED), it was found that 564 women who took Lamictal during their first trimester had children with oral clefts and other defects. This was found more common in women who were taking a higher dose of the drug. Lamictal is classified as a Category C drug for pregnancy, meaning that some birth defects appeared when the drug was tested on animals.
Use of Lamictal has also been linked to the development of aseptic meningitis—a form of the disease not caused by a bacterial infection. In recorded instances of meningitis caused by the use of Lamictal, symptoms occurred within 42 days of beginning the treatment. It was also found that most cases resolved themselves after Lamictal was discontinued.
Lamictal has also been linked to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. In 2008, the FDA required manufacturers of all antiepileptic drugs to add a warning about this side effect. In one study, the rate of suicidal thoughts was discovered to double between patients taking the drug, and patients on a placebo.
Serious side effects may include:
- The first sign of any skin rash, no matter how mild
- Fever, swollen glands, body aches, flu symptoms, headache, neck stiffness, increased sensitivity to light
- Easy bruising or bleeding, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness
- Upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Chest pain, irregular heart rhythm, feeling short of breath
- Confusion, nausea and vomiting, swelling, rapid weight gain, urinating less than usual or not at all
- Pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating
- Increased seizures or worsening of your bipolar disorder
Less serious Lamictal side effects may include:
- Tremors, dizziness, tired feeling
- Blurred vision, double vision
- Loss of coordination
- Dry mouth, mild nausea, stomach pain, upset stomach
- Changes in menstrual periods
- Back pain
- Sleep problems (insomnia)
- Runny nose, sore throat