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Epilepsy medicines available in the United Kingdom

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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 76 (September 2018-March 2019). It is jointly published by the BMJ Group and the Pharmaceutical Press. There are 2 editions published each 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. 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.

Indications in epilepsy also has information on cautions when using some medicines for particular seizure types.

There are various ways to get further information about epilepsy medicines, side-effects, and dosages:

Word list

adjunct/adjunctive

used with other epilepsy medicines

atypical

not typical or not usual

brand

medicine with a name given by the drug company

contraindicated

should not be used

focal-onset seizures/partial seizures

seizures that start in one side of the brain

generic

a version that can be made by a number of different drug companies

monotherapy

used on its own

primary generalised

seizures that affect both sides of the brain from the start

refractory seizures

seizures that are difficult to control with epilepsy medicines

secondary generalisation/secondary generalised seizures

focal seizures that spread to both sides of the brain, causing generalised seizures

teratogenic

causes problems with development of the unborn child during pregnancy

Clicking on the generic medicine name will take you to the BNF 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.

Epilepsy medicines are listed in alphabetical order.

Generic

Some brand names

Indications in epilepsy (main use)

carbamazepine

Tegretol,
Tegretol PR, Tegretol Retard Carbagen, Carbagen SR

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

May exacerbate (worsen) tonic, atonic, myoclonic and absence seizures.

clobazam

Frisium, Perizam, Tapclob, Zacco

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 Scotland and Wales brivaracetam is accepted for restricted use in children and adults from age 4.

eslicarbazepine acetate

Zebinix

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

Eslicarbazepine acetate is accepted for restricted use in NHS Scotland.

ethosuximide

 

Absence seizures, atypical absence seizures (adjunct), myoclonic seizures.

gabapentin

Neurontin

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

Not recommended if tonic, atonic, absence or myoclonic seizures are present.

lacosamide

Vimpat 

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

Lacosamide (Vimpat) is accepted for restricted use within NHS Scotland.

lamotrigine

Lamictal

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

May worsen myoclonic seizures.

levetiracetam

Desitrend, Keppra

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.

Not recommended in tonic, atonic, absence and myoclonic seizures.

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

Tonic-clonic seizures and focal seizures.

May worsen absence or myoclonic seizures.

pregabalin

Axalid, Lecaent, Lyrica

Adjunctive therapy for focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation. Not recommended if tonic, atonic, absence or myoclonic seizures are present.

primidone

 

All forms of epilepsy except typical absence seizures.

rufinamide

Inovelon

Adjunctive treatment of seizures in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Rufinamide (Inovelon) is accepted for restricted use within NHS Scotland.

sodium valproate
 

Epilim, Epilim Chrono, 
Epilim Chronosphere MR,
Episenta, Epival CR

All forms of epilepsy

MHRA/CHM advice: Valproate medicines: contraindicated in women and girls of childbearing potential unless conditions of Pregnancy Prevention Programme are met (April 2018)

Valproate is highly teratogenic and evidence supports that use in pregnancy leads to neurodevelopmental disorders (approx. 30–40% risk) and congenital malformations (approx. 10% risk).

Valproate must not be used in women and girls of childbearing potential unless the conditions of the Pregnancy Prevention Programme are met and only if other treatments are ineffective or not tolerated, as judged by an experienced specialist.

Read our information on valproate and pregnancy

valproic acid

Convulex, Depakote

All forms of epilepsy.

See information on sodium valproate above.

tiagabine

Gabitril

Adjunctive treatment for focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation that are not satisfactorily controlled by other anti-epileptics.

May worsen absence, myoclonic, tonic and atonic seizures.

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.

May worsen absence, myoclonic, tonic and atonic seizures.

Visual field defect (loss of sight from the edges of your field of vision) may occur during treatment with Sabril. You should discuss this possibility with your doctor before you begin treatment with this medicine.

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.

Zonisamide (Zonegran) is accepted for restricted use within NHS Scotland.

Code: 
F001.20
  • Updated November 2018
    To be reviewed April 2019

Comments: read the 4 comments or add yours

Comments

Is Phenytoin Sodium being discontinued

Submitted by Roger Holmes on

Dear Roger

Thank you for your question.

There are a few companies that supply Phenytoin Sodium and we’ve not been made aware of any been discontinued.

If you have further information on this, please will you contact our helpline team directly, so we can look into this? You can either by email helpline@epilepsy.org.uk or phone the Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050. Our helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am until 5.30pm.

Regards

Diane

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by Diane-Epilepsy ... on

I need a proper medication for my child who is suffering from west syndrome please help.

Submitted by Pankaj Chauhan on

Hi Pankaj

Here is our information about west syndrome.

Under the section on treatment, it lists some of the possible medicines. As you can see, the most commonly prescribed medicine type is corticosteroids.

I don’t know where you live and if these are available in your country.

You might want to see if there is an epilepsy association on your country which could help you with this.

I really hope you’re able to find something which helps your child very soon.

Regards

Cherry  

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by rich on

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