Concerns re. Lamictal
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Q:  Concerns re. Lamictal

My question does not relate to my bipolar disorder per se, although it is an ongoing battle to control it, but rather to the problems I have had as a result of taking lamictal. I have experienced the rash, I have had the skin on my hands break open and get infected (badly), I've had rash over my entire body and itching so badly I thought I would lose my mind (am experiencing that now, as well as rash). I spoke with the lamictal rep in my psychiatrist's office who denied there had been ANY problems with the drug. I did the research myself, so I know about this problem and the problem with Stevens-Johnson, which I believe I have. There are times when my skin peels off. Would love to talk with you about these problems. I also have been diagnosed with cellulosis and am on antibiotics now for a breakout of this illness. I never had this condition before I took the lamictal and my hands broke open. I'm sure that's when I got the staph in my skin layers.


Dear L --
With all that going on, if the docís havenít instructed you to stop lamotrigine (Lamictal) then they must have very good reason to think these skin problems are not being caused by lamotrigine.  As youíve learned, usually when thereís a suspicion of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, the first move is to stop lamotrigine.

Perhaps they did stop your medication, and what youíre describing is what happened after that point. If so, then it may be that youíve had a very unfortunate experience with this medication (sounds awful), one which is a known risk we take every time we use it. Estimates of that risk, as youíve probably also learned, range from about 1 in every 1,000 people who take it, to as low as 1 in every 10,000 people who take it. (Big range there; the apparent rate depends on which data source you use).

In my experience thereís never been any attempt to deny that this medication causes SJS. So Iím not sure what happened in your doctorís office; perhaps they were saying that the medication had never been known to cause problems like the ones you were experiencing at the time, if there was some other good explanation for those symptoms.

In any case, if you are not absolutely clear on whether your doctor thinks you should continue the lamotrigine at this point, then you should contact her/him and get that straight.  Sorry to hear of your experience. I hope it resolves soon, and completely.

Dr. Phelps


Published November, 2009


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