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Curr Pharm Des. 2000 May;6(8):839-60.

The new antiepileptic drugs: pharmacological and clinical aspects.

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Clinical Pharmacology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Pavia, Italy.


In recent years several new drugs (oxcarbazepine, lamotrigine, topiramate, gabapentin, zonisamide, tiagabine, fosphenytoin, vigabatrin and felbamate) have been added to the therapeutic armamentarium against epilepsy. Some of these represent structural modifications of pre-existing compounds, others were developed with the specific objective of modifying neurotransmitter function, and many more were found to be clinically useful even though their mode of action is unclear or differs from that originally planned. The pharmacokinetics of these drugs differ widely from one agent to another. Some (gabapentin and vigabatrin) are eliminated unchanged in urine and have little or no interaction potential; others (tiagabine, lamotrigine, topiramate, oxcarbazepine, zonisamide, felbamate) are subject to induction of metabolism by concomitant anticonvulsants; lamotrigine is vulnerable to metabolic inhibition by valproate, and felbamate is a powerful enzyme inhibitor in addition to being an inducer of the metabolism of carbamazepine and steroid oral contraceptives. All new antiepileptic drugs have been found to be effective in improving seizure control in patients with partial and secondarily generalized seizures. However, lamotrigine, topiramate, zonisamide and felbamate appear to have broader efficacy against both partial and many generalized seizure types, while vigabatrin is also valuable in the management of infantile spasms. In monotherapy studies, new drugs have not been found to be more efficacious than older agents, but some may offer limited advantages in terms of improved tolerability. On the other hand, serious toxicity restricts considerably the use of vigabatrin and felbamate. Overall, new drugs represent valuable tools in the fight against epilepsy, but because of limited experience and cost considerations their first-line use cannot be recommended in most situations.

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