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Last Updated on March 16, 2024

Gabapentin is a prescription medication used to treat neuropathic pain, seizures, and restless leg syndrome. However, some individuals may wonder if it’s possible to purchase gabapentin over the counter, without a prescription. Unfortunately, gabapentin is a prescription medication in the UK, meaning it can only be obtained with a valid prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.

Attempting to purchase gabapentin over the counter can be dangerous and illegal. Obtaining medication without a prescription means individuals may not receive the appropriate dosage, instructions for use, or proper treatment for their specific condition. Furthermore, purchasing medication from an unlicensed or illegitimate source can lead to counterfeit or contaminated drugs, which can cause significant harm.

If an individual requires gabapentin for their condition, they should speak with their healthcare provider to obtain a valid prescription. Healthcare providers can provide the necessary guidance and monitoring to ensure the medication is used safely and effectively. In addition, individuals should only obtain medication from licensed pharmacies to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the medication. It is important to prioritize safety and follow proper procedures when obtaining and using prescription medications.

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What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a medicine used to treat epilepsy (seizures) and nerve pain (neuralgia). It has been used as an anti-epileptic drug since 1995. Shortly afterwards it was discovered that it was also effective against neuralgia. Gabapentin is now mainly used for this purpose. You can read all about gabapentin here.

Mechanism of action

The human nervous system is activated or inhibited by certain chemical messengers. Normally, these messengers are released in response to external circumstances to ensure that the body responds appropriately to situations such as injury, stress or rest.

In the nervous system, this controlled balance is disturbed. Genetic predisposition or injury to the brain can increase excitability or decrease inhibition. The brain’s nervous system becomes hyperexcitable, which can lead to seizures.

Long-term irritation of the nerves in the back and limbs (peripheral neuropathy) caused by severe forms of diabetes or viral diseases of the nervous system, such as herpes viruses, can also cause nerve endings to become hyperexcitable. These send signals to the brain, causing constant irritation, and the patient feels constant pain. Nerve pain (neuralgia) cannot be treated with ordinary painkillers. To relieve the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, drugs are needed that normalise the nervous system.

Gabapentin works by effectively reducing the stimulus to the nerve pathways. On the one hand, the drug prevents the release of activating neurotransmitters. On the other hand, it promotes the breakdown of indirectly activating neurotransmitters, thereby reducing their concentration in the nervous system. As a result, fewer neurotransmitters bind to their docking sites (receptors).

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The full effect of the drug only develops after a certain period of treatment (about one to two weeks).

Gabapentin is excreted unchanged by the kidneys. The dose should be reduced in people with renal impairment.

When is Gabapentin used?

The uses (indications) of gabapentin are as follows:

  • various forms of epilepsy
  • Nerve pain, such as can occur with diabetes and viral illnesses

How Gabapentin is taken?

Gabapentin is usually given as tablets or capsules. It can be taken with or without food, but always with plenty of fluids (preferably a large glass of water).

The dose of gabapentin for adults is 1800-3600 milligrams a day. The drug is absorbed by a special transporter (amino acid transporter) in the intestine, which can become saturated with large amounts of the drug. The daily dose should therefore be divided into three separate doses to ensure complete absorption.
To achieve a uniform effect, the doses should always be taken at the same time. A lower dose is chosen for children.

At the start of treatment, gabapentin is given in a gradual dose. This means that the dose is gradually increased until the desired daily dose is reached. This process of titration can take several weeks, depending on individual tolerance, as the doctor needs to find a dose that is specifically tailored to the patient and that provides sufficient efficacy with as few side effects as possible.

Epilepsy usually requires long-term treatment as it is rarely curable.
For neuropathic pain, gabapentin can be stopped after a certain period of treatment, but not abruptly, but by gradually reducing the dose over at least a week.

What are the side effects of Gabapentin?

Very common (i.e. in more than ten per cent of people treated) are viral infections, drowsiness (somnolence), fatigue and dizziness. In one to ten percent of patients, gabapentin causes side effects such as changes in eating habits, changes in blood counts, abnormal behaviour (especially in children), seizures, insomnia and/or rashes. Even rarer (in less than one per cent of people) is water retention in the body tissues (oedema).

What is to consider when taking this medicine?


The amount of medicine absorbed is reduced by medicines that contain aluminium and magnesium to neutralise stomach acid (antacids). Gabapentin should be taken at least two hours apart after taking such an antacid to allow it to work.

The dose of gabapentin should be reduced if you are taking morphine (a strong painkiller).

Pregnancy and lactation

Discontinuation of gabapentin during pregnancy may result in malformation or failure to thrive in the newborn. If possible, the patient should be treated with another agent during pregnancy (lamotrigine for epilepsy and amitriptyline for neuropathic pain). If this is not possible, the dose of gabapentin should be as low as possible.


Gabapentin should not be taken if you have inflammation of the pancreas (acute pancreatitis).

How to get medicines with Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is only available on prescription from a doctor.

What you should know about Gabapentin?

Because of its lack of efficacy, gabapentin is not a first-line antiepileptic drug, but is considered a back-up. However, it may be useful to combine gabapentin with other antiepileptic drugs.

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