Neurontin fails bipolar med review

Review the research on epilepsy meds, and what do you find? Neurontin (gabapentin), is no better than placebo for bipolar disorder, according to the Prescribing for Better Outcomes center at the University of North Carolina.

A bunch of "very poor quality articles," however, seemed to support a positive effect--and those articles were cited and re-cited in the scientific literature, creating an "echo chamber effect." Hearing it over and over, doctors were led to believe that Neurontin worked for bipolar patients, and prescribed it to lots and lots of them.

Ironically, the epilepsy-med review came courtesy of the 2004 Neurontin marketing settlement, under which Pfizer paid $430 million to settle off-label allegations. Some 94 percent of the drug's sales in 2002 were off-label, the government said at the time.

- see the item in the WSJ Health Blog
- check out one of the center's new papers from their drug review

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