We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Epilepsy medicines available in the United Kingdom

Print this page

The main way of treating epilepsy is with epilepsy medicines. You may hear these referred to as anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).

The following information is taken mainly from the British National Formulary (BNF) Number 72 (September 2016 - March 2017). Published by the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, it is updated twice a year. 

The medicines listed are those usually prescribed for everyday seizure control. Other medicines, such as diazepam or midazolam, are available for emergency use. We have not included emergency medicines on this list.

Under the heading Indications in epilepsy, the main use of each medicine is given. This information is taken from the BNF. Sometimes a doctor may prescribe medicines for other seizure types than those listed. You can find information about side-effects of individual epilepsy medicines in the BNF or the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

Epilepsy medicines are available in a number of different formulations such as tablets, capsules, chewtabs, sugar-free liquid, syrup, dispersible tablets, crushable tablets and sprinkle capsules.

For further information about epilepsy medicines, side-effects, and dosages, please consult the British National Formulary (BNF) - available through booksellers and libraries. Or:

  • Your GP (family doctor)
  • Your specialist
  • Your epilepsy nurse
  • The eMC website at medicines.org.uk

or

Contact the Epilepsy Action Helpline:

Word list

adjunct/adjunctive

used with other epilepsy medicines

atypical

not typical or not usual

brand

medicine made by original manufacturer

focal-onset seizures

seizures that start in one part of the brain

generic

other manufacturers' versions of the branded medicine 

indication

When referring to medicine - it's a reason to prescribe a drug

monotherapy

used on its own

primary generalised

seizures that start in both sides of the brain

refractory seizures

seizures that are difficult to control with epilepsy medicines

secondary generalisation/secondary generalised seizures

focal seizures that spread to the rest of the brain, causing generalised seizures

Clicking on the generic medicine name will take you to the eMC website. This will give you more information about the medicine and its side-effects.

Further information about generic and branded medicines is available from Epilepsy Action.

Generic name

Some brand names

Indications in epilepsy

acetazolamide

Diamox, Diamox SR, Eytazox

Has a specific role in treating epilepsy associated with menstruation.

carbamazepine

Tegretol,
Tegretol Prolonged Release, Carbagen, Carbagen SR

Focal and secondary generalised tonic-clonic seizures, primary generalised tonic-clonic seizures.

clobazam

Frisium, Tapclob, Perizam

Adjunct in epilepsy.

clonazepam

 

All forms of epilepsy.

brivaracetam

Briviact

Adjunctive therapy in the treatment of partial-onset seizures with or without secondary generalisation in adult and adolescent patients from 16 years of age with epilepsy. (Information taken from the eMC website.)

eslicarbazepine acetate

Zebinix

Adjunctive treatment in adults with focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation.

Scotland: Eslicarbazepine acetate is accepted for restricted use in NHS Scotland as adjunctive therapy in adults with focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation. It is restricted for use in refractory epilepsy.

ethosuximide

Emeside
Zarontin

Absence seizures, atypical absence seizures, myoclonic seizures.

gabapentin

Neurontin

Monotherapy and adjunctive treatment of focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation.

lacosamide

Vimpat 

Adjunctive treatment of focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation.

Scotland: Lacosamide is accepted for restricted use within NHS Scotland as adjunctive treatment for focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation in patients from 16 years. It is restricted for specialist use in refractory epilepsy.

lamotrigine

Lamictal

Monotherapy and adjunctive treatment of focal seizures, primary and secondary generalised tonic-clonic seizures, and seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

levetiracetam

Keppra, Desitrend, Matever

Monotherapy and adjunctive treatment of focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation. Adjunctive therapy of myoclonic and tonic-clonic seizures.

oxcarbazepine

Trileptal

Monotherapy and adjunctive therapy for the treatment of focal seizures with or without secondary generalised tonic-clonic seizures. Treatment of primary generalised tonic-clonic seizures (not licensed).

perampanel

Fycompa

Adjunctive treatment of focal seizures with or without secondary generalised seizures.

phenobarbital (phenobarbitone)

 

All forms of epilepsy except typical absence seizures.

phenytoin

Epanutin, Phenytoin Sodium Flynn Hard Capsules

Tonic-clonic seizures and focal seizures.

pregabalin

Lyrica, Alzain, Lecaent, Rewisca

Adjunctive therapy for focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation.

primidone

 

All forms of epilepsy except typical absence seizures.

retigabine

Trobalt

Retigabine will be discontinued from June 2017. See Drugwatch article for more information.

Adjunctive treatment of drug-resistant focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation when other appropriate drug combinations have proved inadequate or have not been tolerated.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland: Retigabine is recommended as an option for the adjunctive treatment of focal onset seizures with or without secondary generalisation in adults aged 18 years and older with epilepsy, only when previous treatment with carbamazepine, clobazam, gabapentin, lamotrigine, levetiracetam, oxcarbazepine, sodium valproate, and topiramate has not provided an adequate response, or has not been tolerated.

Scotland: Retigibine is accepted for restricted use within NHS Scotland as adjunctive therapy in adults with focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation. It is restricted for use in refractory epilepsy.

rufinamide

Inovelon

Adjunctive treatment of seizures in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Scotland: Rufinamide is accepted for restricted use within NHS Scotland as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in patients 4 years and above. It is restricted for use when alternative traditional anti-epileptic drugs are unsatisfactory.

sodium valproate
 

Epilim, Epilim Chrono, 
Epilim Chronosphere,
Episenta, Epival

All forms of epilepsy.

valproic acid

Convulex

 All forms of epilepsy.

tiagabine

Gabitril

Adjunctive treatment for focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation that are not satisfactorily controlled by other anti-epileptics. It should be avoided in absence, myoclonic, tonic and atonic seizures due to risk in seizure exacerbation.

topiramate

Topamax

Monotherapy or adjunctive treatment of generalised tonic-clonic seizures or focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation. It can be used as adjunctive treatment for seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

vigabatrin

Sabril

Adjunctive treatment of focal seizures with or without secondarily generalisation, when seizures have not been satisfactorily controlled with other anti-epileptic drugs. Should be used under expert supervision.

Vigabatrin may worsen absence, myoclonic, tonic and atonic seizures.

zonisamide

Zonegran

Monotherapy for treatment of focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation in adults with newly diagnosed epilepsy. Adjunctive treatment for refractory focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation in adults and children aged 6 and above.

Scotland: Zonisamide is accepted for restricted use within NHS Scotland as adjunctive treatment of focal seizures, with or without secondary generalisation, in adolescents and children aged 6 years and above. It is restricted to use on advice from specialists in paediatric neurology or epilepsy.

Code: 
F001.15
  • Updated October 2016
    To be reviewed April 2017

Comments: read the 2 comments or add yours

Comments

Thank you for the information. I become tolerant to any anticonvulsant after about 1 year and need to switch to another. It would be helpful if you would also indicate the mechanism of action of each drug and the typical length of the period of effectiveness is before patients become tolerant.

Submitted by Neil Campbell on

Hi Neil
Thank you for your comment.

As everyone is individual and not everyone experiences tolerance to their epilepsy medicine, it’s not possible for us to put time periods

We do however in our treatment information cover many issues about treating epilepsy with epilepsy medicine. This includes information on, how long it takes for epilepsy medicine to work and changes in how well epilepsy medicine works.

epilepsy.org.uk/info/treatment/anti-epileptic-drug-treatment#how-long-it-takes-for-aeds-to-work

We do not talk about the different modes of action of different epilepsy medicines as we are not qualified to do this. If someone wanted such information we would suggest they contact their local pharmacist.

As you have experienced problems with your own treatment, I hope you are still seeing an epilepsy specialist.  This will enable them to review your treatment and if you have tried various types of epilepsy medicines, it may be the specialist could look into other treatment options for you.

epilepsy.org.uk/info/treatment/other-ways-treating-epilepsy

If you are not under a specialist, you will need to ask your family doctor to refer you. This would usually be to a neurologist. The ideal would be to someone with a specialist interest in epilepsy, as there are many different neurological conditions, and neurologists tend to specialise in different ones.

Regards
Diane Wallace
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane, Epilepsy... on