May 25, 2017
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Side Effects


The most commonly observed adverse events in placebo-controlled, parallel-group, add-on epilepsy trials associated with the use of GABITRIL in combination with other antiepilepsy drugs not seen at an equivalent frequency among placebo-treated patients were dizziness/lightheadedness, asthenia/lack of energy, somnolence, nausea, nervousness/irritability, tremor, abdominal pain, and thinking abnormal/difficulty with concentration or attention.

Approximately 21% of the 2531 patients who received GABITRIL in clinical trials of epilepsy discontinued treatment because of an adverse event. The adverse events most commonly associated with discontinuation were dizziness (1.7%), somnolence (1.6%), depression (1.3%), confusion (1.1%), and asthenia (1.1%).

In Studies 1 and 2 (U.S. studies), the double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, add-on studies, the proportion of patients who discontinued treatment because of adverse events was 11% for the group treated with GABITRIL and 6% for the placebo group. The most common adverse events considered the primary reason for discontinuation were confusion (1.2%), somnolence (1.0%), and ataxia (1.0%).

Adverse Event Incidence In Controlled Clinical Trials

Table 5 lists treatment-emergent signs and symptoms that occurred in at least 1% of patients treated with GABITRIL for epilepsy participating in parallel-group, placebo-controlled trials and were numerically more common in the GABITRIL group. In these studies, either GABITRIL or placebo was added to the patient’s current antiepilepsy drug therapy. Adverse events were usually mild or moderate in intensity.

The prescriber should be aware that these figures, obtained when GABITRIL was added to concurrent antiepilepsy drug therapy, cannot be used to predict the frequency of adverse events in the course of usual medical practice when patient characteristics and other factors may differ from those prevailing during clinical studies. Similarly, the cited frequencies cannot be directly compared with figures obtained from other clinical investigations involving different treatments, uses, or investigators. An inspection of these frequencies, however, does provide the prescribing physician with one basis to estimate the relative contribution of drug and non-drug factors to the adverse event incidences in the population studied.

Table 5: Treatment-Emergent Adverse Event1 Incidence in Parallel-Group, Placebo-Controlled, Add-On Trials (events in at least 1% of patients treated with GABITRIL and numerically more frequent than in the placebo group)

Body as a Whole
  Abdominal Pain 7 3
  Pain (unspecified) 5 3
  Vasodilation 2 1
  Nausea 11 9
  Diarrhea 7 3
  Vomiting 7 4
  Increased Appetite 2 0
  Mouth Ulceration 1 0
  Myasthenia 1 0
Nervous System
  Dizziness 27 15
  Asthenia 20 14
  Somnolence 18 15
  Nervousness 10 3
  Tremor 9 3
  Difficulty with Concentration/Attention* 6 2
  Insomnia 6 4
  Ataxia 5 3
  Confusion 5 3
  Speech Disorder 4 2
  Difficulty with Memory* 4 3
  Paresthesia 4 2
  Depression 3 1
  Emotional Lability 3 2
  Abnormal Gait 3 2
  Hostility 2 1
  Nystagmus 2 1
  Language Problems* 2 0
  Agitation 1 0
Respiratory System
  Pharyngitis 7 4
  Cough Increased 4 3
Skin and Appendages
  Rash 5 4
  Pruritus 2 0
1Patients in these add-on studies were receiving one to three concomitant enzyme-inducing antiepilepsy drugs in addition to GABITRIL or placebo. Patients may have reported multiple adverse experiences; thus, patients may be included in more than one category.
* COSTART term substituted with a more clinically descriptive term.

Other events reported by 1% or more of patients treated with GABITRIL but equally or more frequent in the placebo group were: accidental injury, chest pain, constipation, flu syndrome, rhinitis, anorexia, back pain, dry mouth, flatulence, ecchymosis, twitching, fever, amblyopia, conjunctivitis, urinary tract infection, urinary frequency, infection, dyspepsia, gastroenteritis, nausea and vomiting, myalgia, diplopia, headache, anxiety, acne, sinusitis, and incoordination.

Study 1 was a dose-response study including doses of 32 mg and 56 mg. Table 6 shows adverse events reported at a rate of ≥ 5% in at least one GABITRIL group and more frequent than in the placebo group. Among these events, depression, tremor, nervousness, difficulty with concentration/attention, and perhaps asthenia exhibited a positive relationship to dose.

Table 6: Treatment-Emergent Adverse Event Incidence in Study 1 (events in at least 5% of patients treated with GABITRIL 32 or 56 mg and numerically more frequent than in the placebo group)

Body System/ COSTART Term GABITRIL 56 mg (N=57) % GABITRIL 32 mg (N=88) % Placebo (N=91) %
Body as a Whole
  Accidental Injury 21 15 20
  Infection 19 10 12
  Flu Syndrome 9 6 3
  Pain 7 2 3
  Abdominal Pain 5 7 4
Digestive System
  Diarrhea 2 10 6
Hemic and Lymphatic System
  Ecchymosis 0 6 1
Musculoskeletal System
  Myalgia 5 2 3
Nervous System
  Dizziness 28 31 12
  Asthenia 23 18 15
  Tremor 21 14 1
  Somnolence 19 21 17
  Nervousness 14 11 6
  Difficulty with Concentration/Attention* 14 7 3
  Ataxia 9 6 6
  Depression 7 1 0
  Insomnia 5 6 3
  Abnormal Gait 5 5 3
  Hostility 5 5 2
Respiratory System
  Pharyngitis 7 8 6
Special Senses
  Amblyopia 4 9 8
Urogenital System
  Urinary Tract Infection 5 0 2
Patients in this study were receiving one to three concomitant enzyme-inducing antiepilepsy drugs in addition to GABITRIL or placebo. Patients may have reported multiple adverse experiences; thus, patients may be included in more than one category.
* COSTART term substituted with a more clinically descriptive term.

The effects of GABITRIL in relation to those of placebo on the incidence of adverse events and the types of adverse events reported were independent of age, weight, and gender. Because only 10% of patients were non-Caucasian in parallel-group, placebo-controlled trials, there is insufficient data to support a statement regarding the distribution of adverse experience reports by race.

Other Adverse Events Observed During All Clinical Trials

GABITRIL has been administered to 2531 patients during all phase 2/3 clinical trials, only some of which were placebo-controlled. During these trials, all adverse events were recorded by the clinical investigators using terminology of their own choosing. To provide a meaningful estimate of the proportion of individuals having adverse events, similar types of events were grouped into a smaller number of standardized categories using modified COSTART dictionary terminology. These categories are used in the listing below. The frequencies presented represent the proportion of the 2531 patients exposed to GABITRIL who experienced events of the type cited on at least one occasion while receiving GABITRIL. All reported events are included except those already listed above, events seen only three times or fewer (unless potentially important), events very unlikely to be drug-related, and those too general to be informative. Events are included without regard to determination of a causal relationship to tiagabine.

Events are further classified within body system categories and enumerated in order of decreasing frequency using the following definitions: frequent adverse events are defined as those occurring in at least 1/100 patients; infrequent adverse events are those occurring in 1/100 to 1/1000 patients; rare events are those occurring in fewer than 1/1000 patients.

Body As A Whole

Frequent: Allergic reaction, chest pain, chills, cyst, neck pain, and malaise.


Abscess, cellulitis, facial edema, halitosis, hernia, neck rigidity, neoplasm, pelvic pain, photosensitivity reaction, sepsis, sudden death, and suicide attempt.

Cardiovascular System

Frequent: Hypertension, palpitation, syncope, and tachycardia.

Infrequent: Angina pectoris, cerebral ischemia, electrocardiogram abnormal, hemorrhage, hypotension, myocardial infarct, pallor, peripheral vascular disorder, phlebitis, postural hypotension, and thrombophlebitis.

Digestive System

Frequent: Gingivitis and stomatitis.

Infrequent: Abnormal stools, cholecystitis, cholelithiasis, dysphagia, eructation, esophagitis, fecal incontinence, gastritis, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, glossitis, gum hyperplasia, hepatomegaly, increased salivation, liver function tests abnormal, melena, periodontal abscess, rectal hemorrhage, thirst, tooth caries, and ulcerative stomatitis.

Endocrine System

Infrequent: Goiter and hypothyroidism.

Hemic And Lymphatic System

Frequent: Lymphadenopathy.

Infrequent: Anemia, erythrocytes abnormal, leukopenia, petechia, and thrombocytopenia.

Metabolic And Nutritional

Frequent: Edema, peripheral edema, weight gain, and weight loss.

Infrequent: Dehydration, hypercholesteremia, hyperglycemia, hyperlipemia, hypoglycemia, hypokalemia, and hyponatremia.

Musculoskeletal System

Frequent: Arthralgia.

Infrequent: Arthritis, arthrosis, bursitis, generalized spasm, and tendinous contracture.

Nervous System

Frequent: Depersonalization, dysarthria, euphoria, hallucination, hyperkinesia, hypertonia, hypesthesia, hypokinesia, hypotonia, migraine, myoclonus, paranoid reaction, personality disorder, reflexes decreased, stupor, twitching, and vertigo.

Infrequent: Abnormal dreams, apathy, choreoathetosis, circumoral paresthesia, CNS neoplasm, coma, delusions, dry mouth, dystonia, encephalopathy, hemiplegia, leg cramps, libido increased, libido decreased, movement disorder, neuritis, neurosis, paralysis, peripheral neuritis, psychosis, reflexes increased, and urinary retention.

Respiratory System

Frequent: Bronchitis, dyspnea, epistaxis, and pneumonia.

Infrequent: Apnea, asthma, hemoptysis, hiccups, hyperventilation, laryngitis, respiratory disorder, and voice alteration.

Skin And Appendages

Frequent: Alopecia, dry skin, and sweating.

Infrequent: Contact dermatitis, eczema, exfoliative dermatitis, furunculosis, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, hirsutism, maculopapular rash, psoriasis, skin benign neoplasm, skin carcinoma, skin discolorations, skin nodules, skin ulcer, subcutaneous nodule, urticaria, and vesiculobullous rash.

Special Senses

Frequent: Abnormal vision, ear pain, otitis media, and tinnitus.

Infrequent: Blepharitis, blindness, deafness, eye pain, hyperacusis, keratoconjunctivitis, otitis externa, parosmia, photophobia, taste loss, taste perversion, and visual field defect.

Urogenital System

Frequent: Dysmenorrhea, dysuria, metrorrhagia, urinary incontinence, and vaginitis.

Infrequent: Abortion, amenorrhea, breast enlargement, breast pain, cystitis, fibrocystic breast, hematuria, impotence, kidney failure, menorrhagia, nocturia, papanicolaou smear suspicious, polyuria, pyelonephritis, salpingitis, urethritis, urinary urgency, and vaginal hemorrhage.

Postmarketing Reports

The following adverse reactions have been identified during postapproval use of GABITRIL. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders: bullous dermatitis

Eye disorders: vision blurred

Read the Gabitril (tiagabine hydrochloride) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects


In evaluating the potential for interactions among co-administered antiepilepsy drugs (AEDs), whether or not an AED induces or does not induce metabolic enzymes is an important consideration. Carbamazepine, phenytoin, primidone, and phenobarbital are generally classified as enzyme inducers; valproate and gabapentin are not. GABITRIL is considered to be a non-enzyme inducing AED (see PRECAUTIONS, General, Use in Non-Induced Patients).

The drug interaction data described in this section were obtained from studies involving either healthy subjects or patients with epilepsy.

Effects Of GABITRIL On Other Antiepilepsy Drugs (AEDs)


Tiagabine had no effect on the steady-state plasma concentrations of phenytoin in patients with epilepsy.


Tiagabine had no effect on the steady-state plasma concentrations of carbamazepine or its epoxide metabolite in patients with epilepsy.


Tiagabine causes a slight decrease (about 10%) in steady-state valproate concentrations.

Phenobarbital Or Primidone

No formal pharmacokinetic studies have been performed examining the addition of tiagabine to regimens containing phenobarbital or primidone. The addition of tiagabine in a limited number of patients in three well-controlled studies caused no systematic changes in phenobarbital or primidone concentrations when compared to placebo.

Effects Of Other Antiepilepsy Drugs (AEDs) On GABITRIL


Population pharmacokinetic analyses indicate that tiagabine clearance is 60% greater in patients taking carbamazepine with or without other enzyme-inducing AEDs.


Population pharmacokinetic analyses indicate that tiagabine clearance is 60% greater in patients taking phenytoin with or without other enzyme-inducing AEDs.

Phenobarbital (Primidone)

Population pharmacokinetic analyses indicate that tiagabine clearance is 60% greater in patients taking phenobarbital (primidone) with or without other enzyme-inducing AEDs.


The addition of tiagabine to patients taking valproate chronically had no effect on tiagabine pharmacokinetics, but valproate significantly decreased tiagabine binding in vitro from 96.3 to 94.8%, which resulted in an increase of approximately 40% in the free tiagabine concentration. The clinical relevance of this in vitro finding is unknown.

Interaction Of GABITRIL With Other Drugs


Co-administration of cimetidine (800 mg/day) to patients taking tiagabine chronically had no effect on tiagabine pharmacokinetics.


A single 10 mg dose of tiagabine did not affect the pharmacokinetics of theophylline at steady state.


No significant differences were observed in the steady-state pharmacokinetics of R-warfarin or S-warfarin with the addition of tiagabine given as a single dose. Prothrombin times were not affected by tiagabine.


Concomitant administration of tiagabine did not affect the steady-state pharmacokinetics of digoxin or the mean daily trough serum level of digoxin.

Ethanol Or Triazolam

No significant differences were observed in the pharmacokinetics of triazolam (0.125 mg) and tiagabine (10 mg) when given together as a single dose. The pharmacokinetics of ethanol were not affected by multiple-dose administration of tiagabine. Tiagabine has shown no clinically important potentiation of the pharmacodynamic effects of triazolam or alcohol. Because of the possible additive effects of drugs that may depress the nervous system, ethanol or triazolam should be used cautiously in combination with tiagabine.

Oral Contraceptives

Multiple dose administration of tiagabine (8 mg/day monotherapy) did not alter the pharmacokinetics of oral contraceptives in healthy women of child-bearing age.


Antipyrine pharmacokinetics were not significantly different before and after tiagabine multiple-dose regimens. This indicates that tiagabine does not cause induction or inhibition of the hepatic microsomal enzyme systems responsible for the metabolism of antipyrine.

St. John’s Wort

Concomitant use of St. John’s wort may enhance the metabolism of tiagabine.

Interaction Of GABITRIL With Highly Protein Bound Drugs

In vitro data showed that tiagabine is 96% bound to human plasma protein and therefore has the potential to interact with other highly protein bound compounds. Such an interaction can potentially lead to higher free fractions of either tiagabine or the competing drug.

Drug Abuse And Dependence

The abuse and dependence potential of GABITRIL have not been evaluated in human studies.

Read the Gabitril Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 9/1/2016

Side Effects

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