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Topamax vs Neurontin

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Topamax Overview

Topamax Uses

Topamax Mechanism of Action

Neurontin Overview

Neurontin Uses

Neurontin Mechanism of Action

Effectiveness Comparison

Topamax Dosage

Neurontin Dosage

Topamax Side Effects

Topamax Serious Side Effects

Neurontin Side Effects

Neurontin Serious Side Effects


Cost Comparison

Market Popularity



For patients with epilepsy or neuropathic pain, certain drugs that stabilize nerve activity in the brain can help manage symptoms and reduce seizure frequency. Topamax and Neurontin are two such drugs commonly prescribed for these conditions. Each of them affects different mechanisms within the nervous system, but both have neuro-stabilizing effects that benefit patients suffering from seizures or chronic pain disorders. Topamax, generically known as topiramate, is classified as a sulfamate-substituted monosaccharide anticonvulsant and works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. On the other hand, Neurontin (generic name gabapentin) is an anti-epileptic medication working on increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter to decrease seizure occurrences.

Topamax vs Neurontin Side By Side

Brand NameTopamaxNeurontin
ContraindicationsShould not be used with MAO inhibitors. May increase symptoms of depression.Should not be used with MAO inhibitors. May increase symptoms of depression.
CostBrand: Around $460 for 60 tablets (100 mg). Generic: Between $10 and $20 for 60 tablets.Brand: About $240 for 90 capsules (300 mg). Generic: Approx. $.06 to $.40 per day for typical dosages.
Generic NameTopiramateGabapentin
Most Serious Side EffectThoughts about suicide or self-harm, signs of an allergic reaction, eye problems, rapid heart rate, unusual bleeding, severe metabolic acidosis.Increased thoughts about suicide or self-harm, severe allergic reactions, increased seizures, problems with muscle movement, upper stomach pain.
Severe Drug InteractionsMAO inhibitors.MAO inhibitors.
Typical Dose25-200 mg/day, not to exceed 400 mg/day.Starts at 300 mg/day, up to 3600 mg/day divided into three doses.

What is Topamax?

Topiramate (the generic name for Topamax) was the first drug of its kind, marking a significant development in anticonvulsants that are also effective in managing migraines. It was first approved by the FDA in 1996. Topamax works primarily by increasing levels of GABA (a calming neurotransmitter) and inhibiting certain types of excitatory nerve transmission, effectively reducing abnormal brain activity. It is prescribed for the treatment of various seizure disorders and prevention of migraine headaches. Topamax has a selective influence on certain neural pathways with only minor effects on others, which results in it having fewer side effects than other antiepileptic drugs that have broader actions.

On the other hand, Gabapentin (Neurontin's generic name), although being used to treat similar conditions as topiramate like seizures and neuropathic pain, operates differently. It mimics the structure of GABA but does not affect its production or uptake; instead, gabapentin seems to work by blocking sodium channels and potentially decreasing pro-inflammatory agents' release.

What conditions is Topamax approved to treat?

Topamax is approved for the treatment of various neurological conditions:

  • Epilepsy, both as a monotherapy and adjunctive therapy
  • Migraine prevention in adults
  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (in combination with other drugs)

While Neurontin is also used to treat epilepsy, it's additionally prescribed for:

  • Postherpetic neuralgia, a condition causing nerve pain after herpes zoster infection (shingles)
  • Restless legs syndrome

How does Topamax help with these illnesses?

Topamax, or topiramate, is a medication often used to treat epilepsy and prevent migraines. It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. Topamax does this by affecting neurotransmitters systems - particularly enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down brain signals, and reducing the activity of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter. Additionally, it blocks certain types of channels for sodium and calcium which are involved in sending signals between nerve cells.

Neurontin (gabapentin), on the other hand, was originally developed for treating seizures but has since been found effective for relieving pain especially neuropathic pain. Similar to Topamax it also seems to work with GABA pathways in the brain but its exact mechanism is not fully understood yet.

Both medications can be beneficial depending on individual patient needs and response; however each carry potential side effects that should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

What is Neurontin?

Neurontin is a brand name for gabapentin, an anticonvulsant medication primarily used to treat seizures and neuropathic pain. It works by stabilizing electrical activity in the brain and affecting the way that nerves send messages to your brain. This can reduce seizure frequency and intensity, as well as relieve nerve pain caused by conditions like shingles or diabetic neuropathy.

Gabapentin was first approved by the FDA in 1993. Unlike some other anticonvulsants, it doesn't change the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin or dopamine in your brain. This means its side-effect profile may be different from other drugs such as SSRIs: while common side effects include drowsiness, weight gain or swelling in hands/feet (edema), it does not typically cause issues like sexual dysfunction.

Its distinct mechanism of action can make Neurontin more effective than traditional analgesics for certain types of pain – especially neuropathic pain – and a useful addition for patients who do not respond fully to more "typical" medications.

What conditions is Neurontin approved to treat?

Neurontin is approved for the treatment of:

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

It's also often used off-label in the management of anxiety disorders, insomnia and bipolar disorder although these are not FDA-approved uses.

How does Neurontin help with these illnesses?

Neurontin, or gabapentin, is a medication that impacts the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which plays a significant role in calming nervous activity in the brain. This makes it particularly valuable for treating conditions involving overactive nerve function, such as epilepsy and neuropathic pain. While not affecting serotonin levels like typical antidepressants do, Neurontin's effect on GABA can help to stabilize mood and reduce anxiety. Its action differs from that of Topamax, which also works to control seizures but does so through different mechanisms - primarily by inhibiting certain voltage-dependent sodium channels in neurons and enhancing the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA across receptor sites. It's common for Neurontin to be prescribed when patients don't respond well to other treatments or in combination with them.

How effective are both Topamax and Neurontin?

Both topiramate (Topamax) and gabapentin (Neurontin) have established histories of success in treating patients with epilepsy, and they were initially approved by the FDA within a few years of each other. Since they act on different neurotransmitters, they may be prescribed under different circumstances. The effectiveness of topiramate and gabapentin in controlling seizures was directly studied in several clinical trials; both drugs exhibited similar efficacy in managing symptoms as well as promising safety profiles. In these studies, no significant differences were noted between patients receiving topiramate and those receiving gabapentin.

A 2004 review reported that topiramate is effective from the first week of treatment for most types of seizures, its side effect profile compares favorably to many other antiepileptic drugs, and it is generally well-tolerated across various populations including children and adults. Topamax has become one of the widely prescribed antiepileptic drugs around the globe due to its broad spectrum activity against various seizure types.

Gabapentin's efficacy seems comparable to placebo for neuropathic pain but excels at treating partial onset seizures according to a 2016 review. However, it's typically considered an adjunctive or add-on therapy option meaning it is generally used after or alongside other first-line treatments for epilepsy such as carbamazepine or valproic acid. Significant research on its use involves Gabapentin being co-prescribed alongside another antiepileptic drug so data confirming its standalone efficacy isn't quite robust yet compared to Topamax. Nonetheless, due to its unique pharmacology particularly involving calcium channels modulation rather than direct interaction with GABA receptors like many others do makes Neurontin optimal treatment choice when traditional therapies aren't tolerated or caused unwanted side effects.

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At what dose is Topamax typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Topamax range from 25-200 mg/day, and studies have shown that a starting dose of 25 mg/day is usually enough to begin treating various conditions such as epilepsy or migraines. Children and adolescents could be started on lower doses, depending on their weight and the condition being treated. In both groups, dosage can be gradually increased every week if there is no significant response. However, it's important not to exceed a maximum daily dose of 400mg in any case without consulting a healthcare provider.

At what dose is Neurontin typically prescribed?

Neurontin treatment typically commences at a dosage of 300 mg/day, taken orally. Depending on the individual's response and tolerance to the medication, this dose can be gradually escalated to 600 mg/day divided into two doses spaced 12 hours apart. If necessary, for patients who do not respond adequately to this dose after several weeks, the maximum recommended daily dosage is up to 3600 mg/day divided into three doses of 1200mg each and spaced approximately eight hours apart. As always, it is crucial that any changes in dosages are made under close supervision by a healthcare professional.

What are the most common side effects for Topamax?

Side effects of Topamax can include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the arms and legs
  • Fatigue, drowsiness
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Altered taste sensation (everything tastes different)
  • Difficulty with memory, concentration or speech
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Prickling or tingling sensation

In contrast, Neurontin side effects can include:

-Somnolence (sleepiness/drowsiness)
-Unsteady movement
-Nystagmus (uncontrolled eye movement) -Paresthesia (tinglings or prickle sensations on the skin)
-Increased appetite

As always, if you experience any severe side effects while taking these medications, seek medical attention immediately.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Topamax?

When comparing Topamax to Neurontin, it's important to note that both medications can cause serious side effects in rare circumstances. For Topamax, these can include:

  • Thoughts about suicide or self-harm
  • Signs of an allergic reaction: difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Eye problems such as sudden decrease in vision with or without eye pain and redness
  • Rapid heart rate, feeling like you might pass out; low levels of sodium leading to - headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness
  • Unusual bleeding (nosebleeds), bruising under the skin
  • Severe metabolic acidosis (too much acid in your blood) which can lead to symptoms such as irregular heartbeat; feeling tired; loss of appetite and changes in the way foods taste.

If taking Neurontin some potential serious side effects are:

  • Increased thoughts about suicide or self-harm especially if you're younger than 24 years old when starting treatment. -Severe allergic reactions: hives; fever; swollen glands; painful sores around eyes/mouth/face/throat etc.; difficulty swallowing/breathing.
    -Increased seizures -Problems with muscle movement -Upper stomach pain spreading back accompanied by nausea/vomiting etc.

Both medications should be used only under medical supervision and any alarming side effect should prompt immediate consultation with a healthcare provider.

What are the most common side effects for Neurontin?

Neurontin, also known as gabapentin, can have a variety of side effects. These may include:

  • Dizziness and tiredness
  • Weight gain
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors
  • Nausea, vomiting or changes in appetite
  • Blurred vision or other changes in sight
  • Headache
  • Changes in urination frequency
  • Swelling of the extremities (edema)

These are common symptoms that can occur when starting Neurontin. However, they usually lessen over time as your body adjusts to the medication. It's important to monitor these symptoms and inform your healthcare provider if they persist or worsen.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Neurontin?

Neurontin, while helpful in managing nerve pain and seizures, is not without potential side effects. It is crucial that you seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Signs of a serious allergic reaction: fever, swollen glands, yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice), unusual bleeding or bruising.
  • Mental health changes: new or worsening anxiety or depression; feeling agitated; having suicidal thoughts.
  • Neurological issues: increased seizures; severe weakness or tiredness; problems with balance or muscle movement.
  • Vision disturbances: eye movement changes; blurred vision.
  • Heart problems: chest pain; rapid heart rate.

In addition to these symptoms, sudden discontinuation of Neurontin can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as sleep disturbance and irritability. Always consult your doctor before making changes to medication regimens.

Contraindications for Topamax and Neurontin?

Both Topamax and Neurontin, along with most other anticonvulsant medications, may increase symptoms of depression in some individuals. If you notice your depression worsening, or an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior, it is crucial to seek immediate medical help.

Neither Topamax nor Neurontin should be used if you are taking, or have recently been on monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. Always inform your doctor about all the medicines that you are currently using; MAOIs will require a period of approximately 5 weeks to clear out from the system before starting treatment with either Neurontin or Topamax to prevent any dangerous drug interactions.

How much do Topamax and Neurontin cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 60 tablets of Topamax (100 mg) averages around $460, which works out to approximately $15-$30/day, depending on your dose.
  • The price of 90 capsules of Neurontin (300 mg) is about $240, working out to roughly $8/day.

Thus, if you are in the higher dosage range for Topamax (i.e., 200 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 drug is right for you.

As far as generic versions are concerned:

  • Topiramate (generic for Topamax) costs significantly less than its brand version with a pack of 60 tablets averaging between $10 and $20, translating into an approximate cost range from as low as $.05 per day up to $.33 per day.
  • Gabapentin (generic for Neurontin), available in packs ranging from 30 up to hundreds count capsules packages, has an approximate daily cost starting at around $.06 going up to $.40 per day if taking typical dosages varying from 900mg -1800mg daily.

Popularity of Topamax and Neurontin

Topiramate, which is also available under the brand name Topamax, was prescribed to about 4.3 million individuals in the US in 2020. Predominantly used for managing epilepsy and preventing migraines, topiramate accounted for approximately 14% of anticonvulsant prescriptions in the US that year. It's worth noting that this medication has been moderately increasing in prevalence since its introduction.

On the other hand, gabapentin, commonly marketed as Neurontin along with other brands, was prescribed to an estimated 10 million people within the USA during 2020. In terms of neuropathic pain treatments and as a seizure adjunctive therapy prescription volume, gabapentin makes up just over a quarter (26%), making it one of the most frequently chosen options in these areas. The use of gabapentin has seen an exponential increase over recent years due largely to its effectiveness and versatility across multiple medical conditions.


Both Topamax (topiramate) and Neurontin (gabapentin) have extensive records of usage in patients with epilepsy and nerve pain, backed by numerous clinical studies indicating their effectiveness over placebo treatments. They may be used together in some cases, but this is subject to careful consideration by a physician due to potential drug interactions. Their mechanisms of action differ; Topamax mainly acts by blocking sodium channels and enhancing the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, while Neurontin works primarily by binding to calcium channels and modulating the release of excitatory neurotransmitters.

Topamax can also be considered as a first-line treatment option for migraine prevention, whereas Neurontin would often be utilized for neuropathic pain conditions or as an adjuvant therapy in partial seizures.

Both medications are available in generic form which provides significant cost savings especially for patients who must pay out-of-pocket. Both Topamax and Neurontin may require an adjustment period during which effects may not be noticeable immediately.

The side effect profile is generally similar between these two drugs, both being well-tolerated overall but each having unique considerations: Topamax might lead to weight loss while Neurontin could cause weight gain. For both drugs, patients should closely monitor any changes in mood or signs of unusual behavior when starting treatment and seek medical help immediately if they notice new or worsening symptoms.