, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 156-184
Date: 14 Oct 2012

Antiepileptic Drugs

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Approximately 20 to 30% of patients with active intractable epilepsy are commonly treated with polytherapy antiepileptic drug regimens, and these patients may experience complicated drug interactions. Furthermore, because of the long term nature of treatment, the possibility of drug interactions with drugs used for the treatment of concomitant disease is high. Classically, clinically significant drug interactions, both pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic, have been considered to be detrimental to the patient, necessitating dosage adjustment. However, this need not always be the case. With the introduction of new drugs (e.g. vigabatrin and lamotrigine) with known mechanisms of action, the possibility exists that these can be used synergistically. The most commonly observed clinically significant pharmacokinetic interactions can be attributed to interactions at the metabolic and serum protein binding levels. The best known examples relate to induction (e.g. phenobarbital, phenytoin, carbamazepine and primidone) or inhibition [e.g. valproic acid (sodium valproate)] of hepatic monooxygenase enzymes.

The extent and direction of interactions between the different antiepileptic drugs are varied and unpredictable. Interactions in which the metabolism of phenobarbital, phenytoin or carbamazepine is inhibited are particularly important since these are commonly associated with toxicity. Some inhibitory drugs include macrolide antibiotics, chloramphenicol, cimetidine, isoniazid and numerous sulphonamides. A reduction in efficacy of antibiotic, cardiovascular, corticosteroid, oral anticoagulant and oral contraceptive drugs occurs during combination therapy with enzyme-inducing antiepileptic drugs. Discontinuation of the enzyme inducer or inhibitor will influence the concentrations of the remaining drug(s) and may necessitate dosage readjustment.