Intravenous and Intramuscular Formulations of Antiseizure Drugs in the Treatment of Epilepsy

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Intravenous and intramuscular antiseizure drugs (ASDs) are essential in the treatment of clinical seizure emergencies as well as in replacement therapy when oral administration is not possible. The parenteral formulations provide rapid delivery and complete (intravenous) or nearly complete (intramuscular) bioavailability. Controlled administration of the ASD is feasible with intravenous but not intramuscular formulations. This article reviews the literature and discusses the chemistry, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, and clinical use of currently available intravenous and intramuscular ASD formulations as well as the development of new formulations and agents. Intravenous or intramuscular formulations of lorazepam, diazepam, midazolam, and clonazepam are typically used as the initial treatment agents in seizure emergencies. Recent studies also support the use of intramuscular midazolam as easier than the intravenous delivery of lorazepam in the pre-hospital setting. However, benzodiazepines may be associated with hypotension and respiratory depression. Although loading with intravenous phenytoin was an early approach to treatment, it is associated with cardiac arrhythmias, hypotension, and tissue injury at the injection site. This has made it less favored than fosphenytoin, a water-soluble, phosphorylated phenytoin molecule. Other drugs being used for acute seizure emergencies are intravenous formulations of valproic acid, levetiracetam, and lacosamide. However, the comparative effectiveness of these for status epilepticus (SE) has not been evaluated adequately. Consequently, guidelines for the medical management of SE continue to recommend lorazepam followed by fosphenytoin, or phenytoin if fosphenytoin is not available. Intravenous solutions for carbamazepine, lamotrigine, and topiramate have been developed but remain investigational. The current ASDs were not developed for use in emergency situations, but were adapted from ASDs approved for chronic oral use. New approaches for bringing drugs from experimental models to treatment of human SE are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1009-1022
Number of pages14
JournalCNS Drugs
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

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© 2015 Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


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