Safety and Tolerability of Lamotrigine for Bipolar Disorder

Charles L. Bowden, Gregory M. Asnis, Lawrence D. Ginsberg, Beth Bentley, Robert Leadbetter, Robin White

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Tolerability and safety are important considerations in optimising pharmacotherapy for bipolar disorder. This paper reviews the tolerability and safety of lamotrigine, an anticonvulsant recommended in the 2002 American Psychiatric Association guidelines as a first-line treatment for acute depression in bipolar disorder and one of several options for maintenance therapy. This paper reviews the tolerability and safety of lamotrigine using data available from a large programme of eight placebo-controlled clinical trials of lamotrigine enrolling a total of nearly 1800 patients with bipolar disorder. This review is the first to collate all the safety information from these clinical trials, including data from four unpublished studies. The results these trials in which 827 patients with bipolar disorder were given lamotrigine as monotherapy or adjunctive therapy for up to 18 months for a total of 280 patient-years of exposure demonstrated that lamotrigine is well-tolerated with an adverse-event profile generally comparable with that of placebo. The most common adverse event with lamotrigine was headache. Lamotrigine did not appear to destabilise mood and was not associated with sexual adverse effects, weight gain, or withdrawal symptoms. Few patients experienced serious adverse events with lamotrigine, and the incidence of withdrawals because of adverse events was low. Serious rash occurred rarely (0.1% incidence) in the clinical development programme including both controlled and uncontrolled clinical trials. These findings - considered in the context of data showing lamotrigine to be effective for bipolar depression -establish lamotrigine as a well-tolerated addition to the psychotropic armamentarium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-184
Number of pages12
JournalDrug Safety
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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