Antiepileptic Drugs in Development: Prospects for the Near Future

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Summary: Among some 14 new antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), those most extensively tested in humans include felbamate (FBM), gabapentin (GBP), lamotrigine (LTG), oxcarbazepine (OCBZ), vigabatrin (VGB), and zonisa‐mide (ZNS). All are currently marketed in some but not all countries. Although no large, comparative studies on efficacy have been conducted, all of these new AEDs are effective in adult localization‐related epilepsies, and some have activity in specific syndromes. Although these drugs all have some CNS side effects, especially when administered in combination with other AEDs, they also all have low toxicity profiles. The availability of AEDs with different mechanisms of action may facilitate rational polytherapy. FBM is not teratogenic in animals. Half‐life of FBM in humans is 11–28 h. Daily FBM dosages are 15–45 mg/kg in children and 2,400‐4,800 mg in adults. Side effects include insomnia and anorexia, with weight loss. FBM increases phenytoin (PHT) and valproate (VPA) concentrations, and FBM concentration may be affected by other drugs. It is available in the United States for treatment of Lennox‐Gastaut syndrome and partial seizures in adults. GBP is very water soluble. Half‐life of GBP in humans is 5–7 h and daily dosages range from 900 to 2,400 mg in adults. Few side effects have been observed. GBP is not metabolized by the liver and has no drug interactions. It is available in the United Kingdom and the United States. LTG has no teratogenicity in animal models. Half‐life of LTG in humans depends on co‐medication: with enzyme inducers it is 15–24 h, and with VPA it is approximately 60 h. LTG dosages are 100–600 mg/day in adults. LTG is available in Europe. OCBZ is rapidly metabolized to 10, 11‐dihydro‐10‐hydroxy‐carbazepine (MHD), the active compound. Animal studies have shown similar efficacy but superior toxicity to carbamazepine (CBZ) in animal models. For MHD, half‐life ranges from 10 to 15 h in patients. OGBZ dosages range from 300 to 1,800 mg/day. VGB is a potent, irreversible inhibitor of GABA transaminase which elevates GABA levels in the CNS. Daily dosages of 2,000–4,000 mg of VGB are needed in adults. Although intramyelinic edema has developed in rats and dogs, it has not yet presented in other mammals or humans. ZNS is a sulfonamide effective in animal models of epilepsy. Half‐life of ZNS is 27–36 h. ZNS daily dosage is 400–600 mg. ZNS has been effective in some cases of Baltic myoclonic epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S29-S40
StatePublished - Aug 1994


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Controlled clinical trials
  • Drug toxicity
  • Felbamate
  • Flunarizine
  • Gabapentin
  • Lamotrigine
  • Losigamone
  • Oxcarbazepine
  • Ralitoline
  • Remacemide
  • Stiripentol
  • Tiagabine
  • Topiramate
  • Vigabatrin
  • Zonisamide

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