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Singulair – Montelukast Warning About Psych Side Effects

Singulair is sold as a generic allergy and asthma drug under the name montelukast. The FDA has just issued a montelukast warning about serious side effects.

What took the FDA so long to issue a montelukast warning about serious neuropsychiatric reactions? We are constantly amazed that the Food and Drug Administration moves so slowly when it comes to serious adverse drug reactions. The journal BMC Clinical Pharmacology (March 17, 2008) concluded:

“A possible signal for montelukast and psychiatric adverse drug reactions was found, which should be further explored.”

It took the FDA quite a long time to put some teeth in the montelukast warning. Earlier this month it issued its highest warning…a black box! This reader confirms that the montelukast warning is appropriate.

No Longer a Moody Teenager:

Q. My 14-year-old son had been on the asthma drug Singulair for several years when he was diagnosed with depression. The doctor suggested prescribing an antidepressant.

When I searched online, I found out that depression is a side effect of Singulair. Several individuals reported suicidal tendencies and severe mood swings in addition to depression.

My son has been off Singulair for about three weeks and is a happy boy again. He’s not even a moody teenager!

A. Reports of a link between montelukast (Singulair) and depression have been surfacing for more than a decade. In 2008, the FDA issued a preliminary montelukast warning that this drug for hay fever and asthma might cause agitation, sleeping problems or depression.

Now, the agency is emphasizing the connection with a black box montelukast warning in the prescribing information. According to the FDA, people should stop montelukast and see a health care professional if they develop:

Attention problems
Memory problems
Obsessive-compulsive symptoms
Trouble sleeping
Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Here are some selected excerpts from the FDA News Release (March 4, 2020) announcing the montelukast warning: 

“The boxed warning advises health care providers to avoid prescribing montelukast for patients with mild symptoms, particularly those with allergic rhinitis.”

“We recognize that millions of Americans suffer from asthma or allergies and rely on medication to treat these conditions. The incidence of neuropsychiatric events associated with montelukast is unknown, but some reports are serious, and many patients and health care professionals are not fully aware of these risks,” said Sally Seymour, M.D., director of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Rheumatology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.”

“As part of its review, the FDA re-evaluated the benefits and risks of montelukast as the treatment landscape has evolved since the drug was first approved in 1998. Based upon this assessment, the FDA determined the risks of montelukast may outweigh the benefits in some patients, particularly when the symptoms of the disease are mild and can be adequately treated with alternative therapies.”

What has your experience been with Singulair? Has it worked well for symptom relief? Have you experienced any side effects? Please share your story in the comment section below.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I was prescribed Singulair for asthma due to respiratory allergies. I took one pill one night and suffered horrible, hallucinatory visions when I closed my eyes to go to sleep. I was awake the whole night; I was afraid to try to sleep. It was a very frightening experience. When I told my allergist, he said he’d never heard of such a reaction. I never took the medication again. A year or two later, a local teenager who was put on Singulair suffered altered moods and eventually committed suicide; he had been a happy, normal teen until he took this medication.

I have taken Montelukast (10mg)for over 10 years. I take it at bedtime and have NOT experienced any of the effects mentioned. I am 85 yrs old. I will try weaning my self off to see if I will miss the drug!

Singulair is a pill…why do you show an inhaler???

I have taken Singulair for several years in the spring when cottonwood trees bloom. I have never experienced any problems with mood alterations,etc. For me, the benefits for my asthma far outweigh potential side effects. (I realize that individuals respond differently to medicines.)

I was so pleased to get montelukast last fall, because my allergic asthma was terrible last spring. I had a great fall, virtually no URI allergies, and very little need for an inhaler.
I watched my moods, and they varied pretty much as normal. Asked my MD in Feb. if I should stay on montelukast after allergy season ends, and got an answer, “Maybe.” Based on this article, I may reduce my use of it.

I was given the generic Montelukast last year. Shortly after taking it I experienced really vivid dreams. Some nights I even thrashed around and knocked things off my nightstand. Also talked in my sleep. I mentioned it to my doctor a few months ago, and she said, “That’s not something I have heard about, probably not from the med”. I hope she has heard about it now! I feel a lot better since I stopped it on my own.

My husband took this drug as prescribed for Asthma & allergies and experienced severe and debilitating episodes of depression. It go so bad that he became suicidal. This drug should be taken off the market, as it is extremely dangerous.

Is this warning for the inhaler or does it include the tablet of Singulair 10 mg for allergy symptoms ??

Last fall my husband had a knee replacement and the surgeon prescribed Singulair for the off-label use of reducing scar tissue. After about 3 days my husband became agitated, confused and anxious. Fortunately, he recognized the issue right away. We read every word of the prescription literature and with his doctor’s permission stopped the Singulair.

Within 48 hours he was calm and merely had to deal with the recovery from surgery. This highly recommended doctor seemed totally unaware that there are some nasty side effects to this drug. You can be sure that when he gets the other knee done in a few months, he will NOT be taking Singulair!

I am a 78 year-old male. I have been taking montelukast for about 6 years to treat an allergy to my dog, a 17 year old Black Lab. I have not noticed any of the symptoms listed. Once my dog crosses the rainbow bridge I intend to quit taking the drug and just rely on saline nose spray which I currently use at night on occasion.

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