Meds and you

27 September 2013

Vigabatrin

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

0

Vigabatrin is the active ingredient of Sabril (Nappi Code: 809594-005).

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

Vigabatrin is used as an adjunctive treatment for epilepsy that is not controlled by conventional drugs and if all other drug combinations have been inadequate. Treatment with vigabatrin should only be initiated by a specialist.

In South Africa vigabatrin is registered for the treatment of partial seizures, a seizure that starts in one particular part of the brain. It is also used to treat West's syndrome, a condition which presents as infantile spasms.

Vigabatrin may have a negative effect on your eyesight. Because of this, all patients taking this drug should undergo an eye test before the start of treatment, and at 6-monthly intervals during treatment. Any visual changes, i.e. reduced peripheral vision, should be reported to your specialist.

For vigabatrin to be effective it has to be taken regularly, even if you do not notice an immediate effect.

Do not stop using this antiepileptic drug abruptly as a sudden stop may provoke seizures and psychosis. It is advised that you decrease your dose gradually over a 2-4 week period, and only as directed by your doctor.

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

How does vigabatrin work?
Vigabatrin stabilises electrical activity in the brain and therefore reduce the risk seizures.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 3
Available as: vigabatrin is available as tablets.
What does it do? Reduce the risk of seizures.
Overdose risk: medium
Dependence risk: low
Is Vigabatrin available as a generic? no
Is Vigabatrin 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: 8-12 hours
Stopping this medicine: do not stop using this antiepileptic drug abruptly as a sudden stop may provoke seizures and psychosis. It is advised that you decrease your dose gradually over a 2-4 week period, and only as directed by your doctor.
Prolonged use: tolerance may develop with long-term use. Neurological function and vision should be monitored closely.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

 

  • you have a kidney disease
  • you have any existing eye disease
  • you have a history of psychosis
  • you have been diagnosed with depression
  • you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • the patient is under the age of 9

Pregnancy: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before using this drug, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.
Breastfeeding: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. 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 9.
The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as side effects may occur more frequent.
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
 
fatigue
 
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
speech disturbance
 
X
 
X
loss of coordination
 
X
 
X
swelling
 
X
 
X

Interactions

 

St John’s wort increased risk of tremors
phenytoin reduced effect of phenytoin

Disease interactions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have a kidney disease, any existing eye disease, a history of psychosis or if you have been diagnosed with depression.

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

Recommended dosage
Adults: oral, 1-4 g/day

 

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

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.