How does it work?
Gabitril tablets contain the active ingredient tiagabine, which is a medicine used to treat epilepsy. It works by stabilising electrical activity in the brain.
The brain and nerves are made up of many nerve cells that communicate with each other through electrical signals. These signals must be carefully regulated for the brain and nerves to function properly. When abnormally rapid and repetitive electrical signals are released in the brain, it becomes over-stimulated and normal function is disturbed. This results in fits or seizures.
Tiagabine works by affecting the activity of a neurotransmitter called GABA. Neurotransmitters are natural body chemicals that are stored in nerve cells. They are involved in transmitting messages between the nerve cells. GABA is a neurotransmitter that acts as a natural 'nerve calming' agent. It helps keep the electrical nerve activity in the brain in balance.
Tiagabine prevents the uptake of GABA in the brain. This enables GABA to calm the nerve activity in the brain for a longer period of time, which helps to prevent seizures.
Tiagabine is used as an add-on treatment for people whose epilepsy has not been well controlled by at least one other antiepileptic medicine. It is used to prevent partial seizures, and partial seizures that spread to secondary generalised seizures.
What is it used for?
- Epilepsy - used as an add-on treatment for people with partial seizures with or without secondary generalisation.
- Gabitril tablets should be taken with meals.
- This medicine may reduce your ability to drive or operate machinery safely. Do not drive or operate machinery until you know how this medicine affects you and you are sure it won't affect your performance.
- If you experience any unexplained bruising while taking this medicine you should let your doctor know. He may want you to have a blood test to check your blood cells.
- If you experience any changes in your vision while taking this medicine you should consult your doctor. He may want you to go for an eye test.
- There may be a small increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviour in people taking antiepileptic medicines such as tiagabine for any condition. For this reason, it is very important to seek medical advice if you, or someone else taking this medicine, experience any changes in mood, distressing thoughts, or feelings about suicide or self-harm at any point while taking this medicine. For more information speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
- If you have epilepsy it is important to take your medication regularly, as directed by your doctor, because missing doses can trigger seizures in some people. If you have trouble remembering to take your medicine you should ask your pharmacist for advice. You may find a pill reminder box helpful.
- You should not suddenly stop taking this medicine without consulting your doctor, as this may result in your seizures returning or getting worse. If it is decided that you should stop taking this medicine, the dose should usually be reduced gradually over two to three weeks. Follow the instructions given by your doctor.
Use with caution in
- Mild to moderately decreased liver function.
- Hereditary blood disorders called porphyrias.
- History of serious behavioural problems.
Not to be used in
- Children under 12 years of age.
- Severely decreased liver function.
- Rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, the Lapp lactase deficiency, or glucose-galactose malabsorption (Gabitril tablets contain lactose).
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
- It is very important for women with epilepsy to talk to the doctor responsible for their epilepsy treatment before becoming pregnant. Some antiepileptic medicines are associated with an increased risk of developmental disorders and malformations in the baby. However, stopping antiepileptic treatment during pregnancy runs the risk of the mother having seizures, which can harm both the mother and the foetus. This risk may be higher than that from continuing the medication. The safety of this medicine for use during pregnancy has not been established. The manufacturer states that it should be avoided during pregnancy unless considered essential by your doctor. It is important that all the risks and benefits of treatment are weighed up. Seek medical advice from your doctor.
- It is not known if this medicine passes into breast milk. The manufacturer recommends that it should be avoided by women who are breastfeeding, unless the benefits of the medicine outweigh any risks to the nursing infant. Mothers who need treatment with this medicine should discuss the risks and benefits of breastfeeding compared to bottlefeeding with their doctor.
- Take this medication with or after food.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
- Shaking, usually of the hands (tremor).
- Concentration difficulties.
- Depressed mood.
- Unstable moods (emotional lability).
- Slowed speech.
- Visual disturbances.
- Low white blood cell count.
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
How can this medicine affect other medicines?
It is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist what medicines you are already taking, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, before you start treatment with this medicine. Similarly, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicines while taking this one, to ensure that the combination is safe.
The following medicines speed up the breakdown of tiagabine by the body and may reduce the amount in the blood. If you are take any of these medicines in combination with tiagabine your doctor may need to prescribe you a higher dose of tiagabine:
It is recommended that people who are taking any antiepileptic medicines should avoid taking the herbal remedy St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum). This is because St John's wort may affect the level of antiepileptic medicines in the blood and could increase the risk of seizures.
This medicine does not affect oral contraceptive pills.
Other medicines containing the same active ingredient
There are currently no other medicines available in the UK that contain tiagabine as the active ingredient.