Epilepsy medicines available in the UK

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 80 (September 2020-March 2021). 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. It also gives information on where a medicine may need to be prescribed with caution for particular seizure types. 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.

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

focal 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

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.

Using the generic name, epilepsy medicines are listed in alphabetical order.

Generic

Some brand names

Indications in epilepsy (main use)

Brivaracetam

 BriviactAdjunctive therapy of focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation.

Cannabidiol

Epidyolex

Seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndrome (adjunctive treatment with clobazam). Specialist use only.

Carbamazepine

Tegretol

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

May worsen tonic, atonic, myoclonic and absence seizures.

Clobazam

Frisium, Perizam, Tapclob, Zacco

Adjunct in epilepsy.

Clonazepam

 N/A

All forms of epilepsy.

Eslicarbazepine acetate

Zebinix

Monotherapy of focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation.

Ethosuximide

 N/A

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

Lamotrigine

Lamictal

Monotherapy and adjunctive treatment of focal seizures, primary and secondary generalised tonic-clonic seizures, typical absence seizures in children 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. Adjunctive treatment of primary generalised tonic-clonic seizures.

Phenobarbital (Phenobarbitone)

 N/A

All forms of epilepsy except typical absence seizures.

Phenytoin

Epanutin

Tonic-clonic and focal seizures.

May worsen absence or myoclonic seizures.

Pregabalin

Axalid, Lecaent, Lyrica, Alzain

Adjunctive therapy for focal seizures with or without secondary generalisation.

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

Primidone

 Liskantin Saft

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, Episenta MR, Epival CR

All forms of epilepsy

Valproate must not be used in females 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

Stiripentol

Diacomit

Adjunctive therapy of refractory generalised tonic-clonic seizures in patients with severe myoclonic epilepsy in infancy (Dravet syndrome) in combination with clobazam and valproate.

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.

Valproic acid

 Convulex, Depakote

All forms of epilepsy.

See Pregnancy Prevention Programme information on sodium valproate above.

Vigabatrin

Sabril

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

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.

Code: 
F001.24

This information has been produced under the terms of Epilepsy Action's information quality standards.

  • Updated October 2020
    To be reviewed April 2021

Comments: read the 2 comments or add yours

Comments

My daughter has been prescribed Keppra. 1ml to slowly increase. I am a paediatric nurse experienced in administering medication. She will not take as spits out and blows raspberries when you give it. You can't disguise in foods or drinks as she can smell it and is beginning to become suspicious of all foods, she has a poor diet therefore not appropriate. She is very sensory and does not tolerate strong smells or tastes. What do you suggest? Ideally she needs granules or dispersible tablets so I can disguise in her breakfast but the dose of these is too high. What do you suggest?

Submitted by Marion BAIRD-FRIEL

Hi Marion

This sounds a very difficult situation for you. We’re not medical people, so the only thing we could suggest is to speak with the doctor who prescribed the Keppra, to see if there’s any other epilepsy medicine she could try.

Regards

Kathy

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by Kathy - Epileps...

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