Lamictal (lamotrigine) is marketed by GlaxoSmithKline and is approved to treat epileptic seizures and bipolar I disorder.
Lamictal was initially approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994.
Lamictal is used in combination with other drugs to treat epileptic seizures in patients 2 years and older. Lamictal can be used alone to treat epileptic seizures in patients 16 and older.
The FDA has also approved Lamictal as a maintenance treatment in adults with bipolar disorder to help delay the occurrence of mood episodes such as depression, mania, or hypomania.
Lamictal XR, an extended release version of the drug, is only approved for use in adults and children who are at least 13 years old.
Stopping Lamictal without first talking to a doctor can lead to uncontrolled seizures, or new or worsening mental health problems.
Lamotrigine, the active ingredient in Lamictal, works by stabilizing electrical activity in the brain. It does this by blocking sodium channels, which are involved in nerve cell firing. It also reduces the buildup of chemicals that can be toxic to the brain, such as glutamate.
Lamictal was only the second drug ever approved by the FDA to treat bipolar disorder. It’s not entirely clear how Lamictal works in treating bipolar disorder, but it is thought to be related to the reduction of glutamate in the brain.
The Lamictal label includes a Black Box Warning – the most urgent safety notice possible – regarding a severe or life-threatening skin rash, especially:
Lamictal patients should seek emergency medical attention if they experience:
Lamictal patients may experience suicidal thoughts while using the medication.
Patients should report any new or worsening symptoms to their doctor, such as:
In April 2018, the FDA warned that Lamictal had been associated with a serious immune system reaction – hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) — which excessively activates the body’s infection-fighting immune system.
HLH can lead to hospitalization and death, especially if the reaction is not diagnosed and treated quickly.
HLH typically presents as a persistent fever, usually greater than 101°F. The disorder can lead to severe problems with blood cells and organs throughout the body such as the liver, kidneys, and lungs.
Common Lamictal side effects include:
Lamictal patients should seek emergency medical attention if they experience signs of an allergic reaction, including:
Lamictal patients should contact their doctor if they experience any of the following:
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