Meds and you

27 September 2013

Levetiracetam

Levetiracetam is an anticonvulsant. Anticonvulsants are drugs that are used to treat or prevent convulsions, i.e. the seizures seen in epilepsy.

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Levetiracetam is the active ingredient of Keppra (Nappi Code: 700958-003 and 703165-001).

General information
Levetiracetam is an anticonvulsant. Anticonvulsants are drugs that are used to treat or prevent convulsions, i.e. the seizures seen in epilepsy.

Levetiracetam can be used on its own as monotherapy for patients older than 16 with newly diagnosed epilepsy, but is often used as an adjunctive treatment for epilepsy not controlled by conventional drugs.

In South Africa levetiracetam is registered for the treatment of partial seizures, a type of seizure that starts in one particular part of the brain.

For levetiracetam to be effective it has to be taken regularly. Missing a dose may trigger a seizure in some people.

You should also not stop using this antiepileptic drug abruptly, as a sudden stop may cause seizures. It is advised that you decrease your dose gradually, and only as directed by your doctor.

Because levetiracetam may cause dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation, driving and any hazardous tasks should be avoided until you know how this medication affects you.

How does levetiracetam work?
Levetiracetam stabilises electrical activity in the brain and therefore reduce the risk of seizures.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 3
Available as: levetiracetam is available as tablets.
What does it do? Reduces the risk of seizures.
Overdose risk: medium
Dependence risk: low
Is levetiracetam available as a generic? no
Is levetiracetam available on prescription only? yes

User information

Onset of effect: the full effect of this drug is only seen after a few days of treatment.
Duration of action: up to 12 hours
Stopping this medicine: do not stop using this antiepileptic drug abruptly as a sudden stop may provoke seizures. It is advised that you decrease your dose gradually, and only as directed by your doctor.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have liver of kidney disease

  • you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.
Breastfeeding: avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.
Porphyria: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your condition. Consult your doctor before use.
Infants and children: this medication is not intended for use in children under the age of 16
The elderly: no special precautions need to be taken.
Driving and hazardous work: caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.
Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects

Side Effect
Frequency
Consult your doctor

Common
Rare
Only if severe
In all cases
drowsiness
X

X

dizziness

X
X

diarrhoea

X
X

abdominal pain

X
X

nausea/vomiting

X
X

hair loss

X
X

tremors

X
X

headache

X
X

skin rash

X

X
aggression

X

X
abnormal thoughts

X

X
double vision/vision disturbance

X

X

Interactions

St John’s wort increased risk of tremors

Disease interactions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have a kidney disease.

Overdose action
A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage
Adults: oral, 1-3 g/day in 2 divided doses

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.
 
 

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