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Neurologist. 2002 Mar;8(2):71-81.

New antiepileptic drugs.

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Department of Neurology, Columbia Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, New York-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA.



Eight novel anticonvulsant drugs have been introduced in the United States in the past 10 years, as well as two new intravenous preparations of anticonvulsant drugs. The role of each in the treatment of patients with epilepsy is being refined as experience and research data accumulate.


Gabapentin, tiagabine, and oxcarbazepine are effective for partial seizures, whereas felbamate, lamotrigine, topiramate, levetiracetam, and zonisamide treat both partial and generalized seizure types. In general, these newer agents differ from older agents by relative lack of drug-drug interactions, and many show improved tolerability compared with phenytoin and carbamazepine. Each has distinguishing features that can prove useful in specific clinical situations. Despite limited Food and Drug Administration indications, all are useful in monotherapy under certain circumstances. Fosphenytoin avoids the adverse effects of intravenous phenytoin vehicle, and intravenous valproate represents a much needed option in patients who require rapid loading of this medication.


The greater number of antiseizure drugs available today makes it possible to tailor treatment to individual patient needs, allowing more patients to be free of debilitating adverse effects. Additionally, some patients can achieve complete seizure freedom even after failing one or more other antiepileptic drugs.

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