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Levetiracetam in the treatment of epilepsy

Authors Abou-Khalil B

Published 6 June 2008 Volume 2008:4(3) Pages 507—523


Bassel Abou-Khalil

Department of Neurology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Abstract: Epilepsy is a common chronic disorder that requires long-term antiepileptic drug therapy. Approximately one half of patients fail the initial antiepileptic drug and about 35% are refractory to medical therapy, highlighting the continued need for more effective and better tolerated drugs. Levetiracetam is an antiepileptic drug marketed since 2000. Its novel mechanism of action is modulation of synaptic neurotransmitter release through binding to the synaptic vesicle protein SV2A in the brain. Its pharmacokinetic advantages include rapid and almost complete absorption, minimal insignificant binding to plasma protein, absence of enzyme induction, absence of interactions with other drugs, and partial metabolism outside the liver. The availability of an intravenous preparation is yet another advantage. It has been demonstrated effective as adjunctive therapy for refractory partial-onset seizures, primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures, and myoclonic seizures of juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. In addition, it was found equivalent to controlled release carbamazepine as first-line therapy for partial-onset seizures, both in efficacy and tolerability. Its main adverse effects in randomized adjunctive trials in adults have been somnolence, asthenia, infection, and dizziness. In children, the behavioral adverse effects of hostility and nervousness were also noted. Levetiracetam is an important addition to the treatment of epilepsy.

Keywords: epilepsy, seizures, antiepileptic drugs, long-term therapy, efficacy, safety, levetiracetam

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