Gabapentin-LA Lowers Hot Flashes

I know many of you either can’t or don’t want to take estrogen. There is good news on the horizon for you.

Dr. Seibel interviews Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton University of  Virginia Medical School

Gabapentin-LA Lowers Hot Flashes

Two new prescription non-estrogen drugs will likely be available in 2013 that seem effective treatment for hot flashes. This study, presented at the recent North American Menopause Meeting (NAMS), is about – Gabapentin – ER, which stands for “extended release.”

Hot flashes affect about three fourths of women in menopause. You know how trouble-some they can be: they interrupt concentration and make comfort a challenge. It’s also one of the most common reasons women in menopause don’t sleep well.

Women receiving Gabapentin-ER had fewer hot flashes, found their hot flashes to be less bothersome, and slept significantly better than the placebo group 

The best treatment for hot flashes is estrogen, also called estrogen therapy (ET), hormone therapy (HT) or in the past, hormone replacement therapy  (HRT). But as I mentioned, some women either can’t or won’t take estrogen due to potential side effects, risks or simply choosing not to.

Women who have had breast cancer are a special group who usually cannot take hormone therapy, and as a result, many struggle with hot flashes. It makes the diagnosis of breast cancer an even greater hardship. So there are literally millions of women looking for another treatment option for their hot flashes in addition to lifestyle changes and over the counter remedies.

This study was conducted by Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, a past president of NAMS and a Professor at the University of Virginia. She and her col-leagues gave either

Gabapentin-LA Lowers Hot Flashes1 Gabapentin-ER or a placebo to half of approximately 600 women (~300 in each group) who were having on average 11 hot flashes daily.

The medicine dosage was increased slowly over one week and they continued the treatment for a total of 6 months.  More women taking the medication also reported that they were either much improved or very much improved over those taking a placebo.

A short acting form of Gabapentin is currently available on the market today and although it is sometimes used for hot flashes, it is not FDA approved for hot flashes.

It must be given three times daily and about 20% of the women taking it will have dizziness and/or sleepiness the next day. In my experience prescribing the short acting form of the medication, women either love it or hate it due to the side effects.

By the end of one week, only 3% of women had side effects, which was the same as placebo group.This is great news because basically, if you can tolerate the lesser amount of side effects for just one week, they are likely to go away.

This drug is at the FDA and likely will be avail-able for use by the end of 2013. It will then be available as an FDA approved drug for menopausal women with hot flashes who either cannot or won’t take estrogen. Stay tuned.