Epilepsy – Drug safety and side effects General points Prescribe by brand Loss of seizure control may occur when patients are switched between different manufacturers preparations of the same anticonvulsant due to differences in bioavailabililty It is recommended that Anti Epileptic Drugs) AEDs are prescribed by brand name and that patients are not transferred to a different brand or preparation without clinical support Suicidal thoughts / behaviour Guidance from the MHRA states that AED treatment may be associated with a small risk of suicidal ideation. Data suggests that this can occur with all available drugs and is seen from as early as a week after initiating treatment. Doctors should warn of this and ask the patient to be aware of any mood changes etc and seek medical help if necessary. Interactions / herbal medicine use Many AEDs will interact with other common medications. Enzyme inducers eg. Phenytoin may necessitate a higher dose of other medications eg steroids (may need to be doubled) Oral contraceptives may be ineffective St John’s wort is listed as interacting with MOST AEDs Administration in advanced disease If oral route unavailable some preparations available IV or in acute instance IM/PR benzodiazepines may be administered. In palliative medicine it is common to substitute anti-epeleptics for midazolam/clonazepam delivered via CSCI AED side effects First line agents Generic name Carbamazepine Ethosuximide Lamotrigine Levetiracetam Oxcarbazepine Sodium Valproate Common side effects Dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, fluid retention, unsteadiness, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, headache, hyponatreaemia, dermatitis Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, anorexia, and weight loss. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dry mouth, aggression, agitation, headache, drowsiness, dizziness, tremor, difficulty sleeping, unsteadiness, back pain, joint pain, eye movements, double vision, and blurred vision. Anorexia, weight changes, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, drowsiness, unsteadiness, dizziness, headache, tremor, amnesia, aggression, agitation, depression, anxiety, and double or blurred vision. Skin rash, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, dizziness, headache, drowsiness, agitation, amnesia, hair loss, weakness, unsteadiness, confusion, depression, and tremor. Hair loss - not usually severe and is usually reversible if the dose is reduced. Nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and weight gain (due to increased appetite), increased levels of ammonia in the blood, and reduced platelets. Has been associated with polycystic ovaries and menstrual problems. Sodium valproate carries a higher risk than other AEDs of causing developmental problems in unborn babies if taken during pregnancy. Having preconceptual counselling is recommended. Second line agents Acetazolamide Clobazam Clonazepam Gabapentin Lacosamide Phenobarbital Phenytoin Piracetam Pregabalin Topiramate Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, taste disturbance, loss of appetite, pins and needles, flushing, headache, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, excitement, unsteadiness, depression, thirst, increased urination, and reduced libido. Drowsiness, lightheadedness, confusion, unsteadiness, amnesia, dependence, aggression, and muscle weakness. Drowsiness, fatigue, dizziness, low muscle tone, coordination problems, low concentration, restlessness, confusion, amnesia, and dependence. Diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, appetite changes, weight gain, hypertension, fluid retention, confusion, depression, sleep disturbance, headache, dizziness, anxiety, tremor, unsteadiness, flu-like symptoms, incontinence, impotence, and double vision. Nausea, vomiting, constipation, wind, dizziness, headache, impaired co-ordination, drowsiness, tremor, depression, fatigue, abnormal walking, blurred vision, eye movements, and itching. Hepatitis, hypotension, drowsiness, lethargy, depression, unsteadiness, and impaired memory or cognition. Nausea, vomiting, constipation, nystagmus, drowsiness, insomnia, nervousness, tremor, pins and needles, dizziness,ataxia, slurred speech, duptyren’s contracture, headache, anorexia, gum problems, acne, excess hair growth, and coarsening of facial features. Weight gain, nervousness, and overactive restlessness. Dry mouth, constipation, vomiting, wind, fluid retention, dizziness, irritability, low attention, muscle and movement problems, speech disorder, impaired memory, pins and needles, euphoria, confusion, insomnia, blurred or double vision, and sexual dysfunction. Nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation, indigestion, abdominal pain, dry mouth, appetite changes, impaired attention, cognition and coordination, movement problems, tremor, drowsiness, dizziness, anxiety, confusion, mood changes, depression, irritability, and anaemia.