Header Image for Tegretol vs Neurontin

Tegretol vs Neurontin

Listen to the article instead of reading through it.


For patients struggling with epilepsy or neuropathic pain, certain medications can help control electrical activity in the brain and manage symptoms. Tegretol (Carbamazepine) and Neurontin (Gabapentin) are two such drugs that are commonly prescribed for these conditions. They influence different mechanisms in the body but both have effects on reducing abnormal nerve impulses that cause seizures and pain. Tegretol works by decreasing nerve impulses that cause seizures and pain, as it's an anticonvulsant and specific analgesic for trigeminal neuralgia. Neurontin, on the other hand, is classified as an anti-epileptic drug; it changes the way our bodies sense pain by stabilizing electrical activity in the brain.

What is Tegretol?

Carbamazepine (the generic name for Tegretol) is a medication primarily used in the treatment of epilepsy and neuropathic pain. It was first approved by the FDA in 1968. Carbamazepine works by stabilizing hyper-excited nerve endings, thereby preventing them from generating excessive electrical signals that can lead to seizures or episodes of pain. This drug is often prescribed for conditions like trigeminal neuralgia and bipolar disorder too.

On the other hand, Gabapentin (Neurontin) emerged later as an anticonvulsant and neuropathic pain reliever with its approval from FDA coming in 1993. Neurontin functions by affecting chemicals and nerves involved in causing seizures and certain types of pain.

While both medications are effective at managing neurological disorders, they have different mechanisms of action: While Tegretol interferes with sodium channels to limit rapid firing of neurons, Neurontin modulates activity of calcium channels which play a role in transmission of nerve impulses. Consequently, their side effect profiles differ as well – Tegretol may cause more serious side effects including skin reactions while Neurontin tends to be associated with milder side effects such as dizziness or fatigue.

What conditions is Tegretol approved to treat?

Tegretol is approved for the treatment of various neurological and psychiatric conditions:

  • Epilepsy, including complex partial seizures and generalized tonic-clonic seizures
  • Trigeminal neuralgia (a type of nerve pain affecting the face)
  • Bipolar disorder, particularly in preventing manic episodes

How does Tegretol help with these illnesses?

Tegretol, also known as carbamazepine, is a medication primarily used to manage certain types of seizures and nerve pain. It works by reducing the electrical activity in the brain and nerves that leads to seizures or pain. Tegretol does this by inhibiting voltage-gated sodium channels on neurons, which reduces the ability of these neurons to rapidly fire action potentials, thus limiting seizure activity. Similarly, Neurontin (gabapentin) is another medication used for similar conditions such as epilepsy and neuropathic pain but it operates through a different mechanism. It modulates calcium channels in nerve cells which suppresses excessive neuronal excitability - this helps control seizures and alleviates nerve pain. While both drugs serve similar purposes, their distinct mechanisms of action may make one more suitable than the other depending upon individual patient circumstances.

What is Neurontin?

Neurontin is a brand name for gabapentin, which is an anti-epileptic medication. It functions by affecting the chemicals and nerves in the body that are implicated in causing seizures and certain types of pain. Gabapentin was first approved by the FDA in 1993, primarily for use as part of adjunctive therapy, to be used alongside other medications to treat partial seizures.

As Neurontin is not a sodium channel inhibitor like Tegretol (carbamazepine), it does not block voltage-dependent sodium channels or inhibit repetitive neuronal firing. Its unique mechanism means its side-effect profile differs from those drugs such as Tegretol. In particular, it often causes less dizziness and unsteadiness compared to carbamazepine.

The effects on nerve signals can be beneficial for treating neuropathic pain along with certain epileptic conditions especially where treatment with "typical" anticonvulsant drugs like Tegretol has been unsuccessful or caused intolerable side effects.

What conditions is Neurontin approved to treat?

Neurontin, also known as Gabapentin, is an anticonvulsant medication that the FDA has approved for use in:

  • Epilepsy, specifically to manage partial seizures
  • Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a type of nerve pain caused by shingles or herpes zoster

How does Neurontin help with these illnesses?

GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a neurotransmitter that inhibits nerve transmission in the brain, calming nervous activity. As with serotonin and norepinephrine, imbalances in GABA levels can lead to mood disorders such as anxiety. Neurontin (generic name gabapentin) works by mimicking the activity of GABA and thus increases its effects on the brain and body. This results in decreased abnormal excitement in the brain which alleviates pain and helps control seizures for patients with epilepsy. While Tegretol also treats these conditions by reducing excessive nerve signals in the brain and restoring normal balance of nerve activity, Neurontin is often prescribed when patients do not respond well to other antiepileptic drugs or experience negative side effects from them due to its minimal drug interactions and less severe side effect profile.

How effective are both Tegretol and Neurontin?

Both carbamazepine (Tegretol) and gabapentin (Neurontin) have established histories of success in treating patients with epilepsy, and they were initially approved by the FDA about 20 years apart. Since they act on different neurochemical pathways, they may be prescribed under different circumstances. The effectiveness of Tegretol and Neurontin in managing seizures was directly studied; both drugs exhibited similar efficacy in managing symptoms of seizures as well as similar safety profiles.

A review demonstrated that Tegretol is effective in alleviating symptoms of seizures starting from the first week of treatment, its side effect profile is favorable over many other antiepileptic drugs, and it is well-tolerated even in pediatric populations. The same study reports that Tegretol has become one of the most-widely prescribed antiepileptic drug worldwide.

A meta-analysis indicated that Neurontin seems to be more effective than placebo in treating partial onset seizures but it's considered a second-line treatment option for generalized or mixed seizure types due to lack robust data confirming its efficacy for these indications. Nonetheless, due to its unique pharmacology which involves binding to voltage-gated calcium channels rather than sodium channels like many other antiepileptics including Tegretol, Neurontin may be an optimal treatment for patients who did not respond well to first-line treatments or have a particular need to avoid common side effects such as dizziness or ataxia.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Tegretol typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Tegretol generally range from 200-1600 mg/day, and studies have shown that starting with a dosage as low as 100-200 mg/day can be effective in treating seizures in most individuals. Children and adolescents may start on lower doses (10–20 mg/kg of body weight), which is gradually increased every week until the desired response is achieved. In either population, if there is no improvement or if side effects are troublesome, the dosage can be adjusted under medical supervision. The maximum daily dose varies depending on the specific condition being treated but should not exceed 1600 mg for adults and less than this for children based upon their body weight.

Find Top Clinical Trials

Choose from over 30,000 active clinical trials.

At what dose is Neurontin typically prescribed?

Neurontin treatment typically begins with a dosage of 300 mg/day, taken orally. Depending upon the individual's response and tolerance to this medication, the dose may be increased up to 600 mg/day, divided into two doses approximately 12 hours apart. If necessary, under proper medical supervision, the maximum dosage can go up to 3600 mg/day divided into three equal doses spaced roughly 8 hours apart. This is generally considered only if there is no significant improvement in symptoms at lower dosages after several weeks.

What are the most common side effects for Tegretol?

Common side effects of Tegretol (Carbamazepine) include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Unsteadiness when walking
  • Nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach
  • Dry mouth
  • Abnormal vision or double vision
  • Confusion and agitation
  • Decreased coordination

Some frequent side effects associated with Neurontin (Gabapentin) are:

-Drowsiness or fatigue -Walking difficulty due to loss of coordination -Nervousness and anxiety
-Shaking or tremors
-Swelling in the hands and feet
-Unusual eye movements
-Gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation.

Keep in mind that this is not a complete list of possible side effects for either drug. Always consult with your healthcare professional about potential risks before starting any new medication regimen.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Tegretol?

While Tegretol and Neurontin are both used to manage seizure disorders and certain types of nerve pain, their potential side effects can be quite different. For Tegretol, watch for these possible serious side effects:

  • Thoughts about suicide or self-harm
  • Signs of severe skin reactions: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat, fever with a sore throat/burning eyes/skin pain; red/purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face/torso) causing blistering/peeling
  • Abnormal heartbeats, shortness of breath; sudden dizziness (feeling like you might pass out)
  • Low sodium levels - headache, confusion/slurred speech/vomiting/severe weakness/unsteady feeling/loss of coordination
  • Severe nervous system reaction - rigid muscles/high fever/confusion/fast or uneven heartbeat/tremors/dizziness upon standing
  • Symptoms suggestive of liver function abnormalities such as nausea/vomiting/general malaise/jaundice

For Neurontin on the other hand:

  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Allergic reactions like skin rash/hives/swelling in the lips/face/throat/lungs/chest area
  • Unusual eye movements which may include blurred vision/double vision/uncontrolled rapid back-and-forth movement of the eyes. -Dizziness/unsteadiness/muscle weakness/or trouble speaking -Seizures more often than before.

It's important to take either medication as prescribed by your doctor and reach out if you exhibit any concerning signs.

What are the most common side effects for Neurontin?

Neurontin, also known as gabapentin, can have the following side effects:

  • Dizziness or drowsiness
  • Memory problems or confusion
  • Coordination difficulties
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth and sore throat
  • Tremors or unusual twitching
  • Swelling in limbs (edema)
  • Weight gain rather than weight loss
  • Gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea
    Please note that not everyone experiences these adverse reactions; however it is essential to consult your healthcare provider if any of these symptoms persist.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Neurontin?

Neurontin, while usually well-tolerated, can occasionally cause severe side effects. These may include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling in your face or throat
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior
  • New or worsening anxiety and depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Aggressiveness and irritability
  • Acting on dangerous impulses
  • Suicidal thoughts or hurting oneself
  • An extreme increase in activity and talking (mania)

If any such symptoms are experienced, it's necessary to contact a healthcare provider immediately. It's essential not to ignore these signs as they might indicate serious complications associated with the use of Neurontin.

Contraindications for Tegretol and Neurontin?

Just like with any anti-epileptic drugs, both Tegretol and Neurontin may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior. If you notice a worsening in mood, depression, or have thought about self-harm or suicide after starting on these medications, it is critical to seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Tegretol nor Neurontin should be taken if you are using certain classes of medications without consulting your doctor first. This includes MAO inhibitors (MAOIs), some types of antidepressants and other specific drugs used for mental health disorders due to potential serious interactions which can lead to side effects such as serotonin syndrome. Always inform your healthcare provider about all the medicines that you're currently taking; discontinuation of some medication might require a washout period before starting therapy with either Tegretol or Neurontin.

How much do Tegretol and Neurontin cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 90 tablets of Tegretol (200 mg) averages around $400, which works out to $4.44 - $8.88/day, depending on your dose.
  • The price of 90 capsules of Neurontin (300 mg) is about $250, working out to approximately $2.77/day.

Thus, if you are in the higher dosage range for Tegretol (i.e., 600 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Neurontin is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. Please note that cost should not be a primary consideration in determining which of these drugs is right for you.

For the generic versions carbamazepine (Tegretol) and gabapentin (Neurontin), costs are significantly lower:

  • Carbamazepine (200 mg tablets) is available in packs of 60 tablets and above with approximate costs varying from as low as $0.15 to roughly $.30 per day for dosages ranging from 200mg/day up to typical maximum doses around 800mg–1000mg per day.
  • Gabapentin can be purchased in quantities up to several hundred at once; even so, it generally will not exceed about $.20–$.40 per day depending on whether one’s individual regimen involves taking a more common daily total like 900mg or something closer towards the upper end such as near its max recommended value around three thousand milligrams each day.

Popularity of Tegretol and Neurontin

Carbamazepine, in generic form as well as under brand names such as Tegretol, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 1.5 million people in the US in 2020. Carbamazepine accounted for just over 10% of anticonvulsant prescriptions in the US. However, it appears to be one of the most-common “tricyclic” anticonvulsants (not classified as a newer class of anticonvulsants). The use of carbamazepine has remained relatively stable since its introduction.

Gabapentin, including brand versions such as Neurontin, was prescribed to approximately 64 million people in the USA in 2020. In the US, gabapentin accounts for around half of all new generation anticonvulsant prescriptions and has become increasingly popular due to its effectiveness not only against seizures but also neuropathic pain conditions and anxiety disorders. Its prevalence has seen a marked rise over recent years.


Both Tegretol (carbamazepine) and Neurontin (gabapentin) have a long-standing record of use in patients with epilepsy, nerve pain, and bipolar disorder. They are backed by a wealth of clinical studies demonstrating their efficacy over placebo treatments. In some instances, these drugs may be used in combination; however, this is subject to meticulous evaluation by a healthcare professional due to potential drug interactions. Their different mechanisms of action - with Tegretol stabilizing neuronal membranes through sodium channel inhibition and Neurontin primarily modulating calcium channels - often lead them to be prescribed under varying circumstances.

Tegretol is typically considered the first-line treatment for focal seizures while Neurontin can serve as an adjunctive therapy or when patients do not respond well to initial anticonvulsants like Tegretol.

Both medications are available in generic form which translates into considerable cost savings particularly for those who must pay out-of-pocket expenses. Both Tegretol and Neurontin might require an adjustment period where effects may not be immediate.

The side effect profiles are comparable between the two drugs, both being generally well-tolerated but with distinct differences: Tegretol may cause more serious side effects such as blood disorders whilst dizziness and weight gain could occur more frequently with Neurontin usage. Patients need to closely monitor any changes especially during the early stages of treatment, seeking medical help immediately if they experience worsening symptoms or adverse reactions.