Cenobamate: First Approval


Cenobamate (XCOPRI®) is an oral, small molecule neurotherapeutic azole compound that is being developed by SK Life Science Inc. and Arvelle Therapeutics for the treatment of epilepsy. Based on results of two pivotal phase 2 trials, cenobamate was recently approved in the USA for use in the treatment of partial-onset seizures in adult patients. This article summarizes the milestones in the development of cenobamate leading to this first approval.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    SK Biopharmaceuticals. SK Biopharmaceuticals and Arvelle Therapeutics announce agreement to develop and commercialize cenobamate in Europe [media release]. 2019. http://www.skbp.com.

  2. 2.

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA approves new treatment for adults with partial-onset seizures [media release]. 2019. https://www.fda.gov.

  3. 3.

    SK Biopharmaceuticals. Cenobamate (XCOPRI): US prescribing information. 2019. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2019/212839s000lbl.pdf. Accessed 27 Nov 2019.

  4. 4.

    SK Biopharmaceuticals. SK Biopharmaceuticals drug program wins funding support from Korean government [media release]. 2012. http://www.skbp.com.

  5. 5.

    World Intellectual Property Organization. Neurotherapeutic azole compounds. 2006. https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/cf/e2/9c/8cb63ba5150ea9/WO2006112685A1.pdf. Accessed 3 Dec 2019.

  6. 6.

    United States Patent. Neurotherapeutic azole compounds. 2009. https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/2c/74/81/0377b9c4d274c7/US7598279.pdf. Accessed 3 Dec 2019.

  7. 7.

    European Patents Office. Neurotherapeutic azole compounds. 2013. https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/b4/26/d6/34276d54049f3d/EP1879873B1.pdf. Accessed 3 Dec 2019.

  8. 8.

    Korean Intellectual Property Office. Neutrotherapeutic azole compounds. 2013. https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/eb/b0/0d/368d2b1a1829f3/KR101286499B1.pdf. Accessed 3 Dec 2019.

  9. 9.

    Google Patents. Neurotherapeutic azole compounds. 2019. https://patents.google.com/patent/EP1879873B1/en?oq=+WO+2006%2f112685±. Accessed 3 Dec 2019.

  10. 10.

    Nakamura M, Cho JH, Shin H, et al. Effects of cenobamate (YKP3089), a newly developed anti-epileptic drug, on voltage-gated sodium channels in rat hippocampal CA3 neurons. Eur J Pharmacol. 2019;855:175–82.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Sharma R, Song WS, Nakamura M, et al. Effects of cenobamate on GABA-A receptor modulation [abstract no. P1.5-033]. Neurology. 2019;92(15 Suppl).

  12. 12.

    Kasteleijn-Nolst Trenite DGA, DiVentura BD, Pollard JR, et al. Suppression of the photoparoxysmal response in photosensitive epilepsy with cenobamate (YKP3089). Neurology. 2019;93(6):e559–67.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Vernillet L, Kamin M. Pharmacokinetics of cenobamate (YKP3089): results from single and multiple oral rising-dose studies in healthy subjects [abstract no. P5.280]. Neurology. 2018;90(15 Suppl).

  14. 14.

    Greene S, Orlinski L, Streicher C, et al. The pharmacokinetics of cenobamate in special populations [abstract no. P1.5-034]. Neurology. 2019;92(15 Suppl).

  15. 15.

    Vernillet L, Kamin M. Drug–drug interactions between cenobamate and other antiepileptic drugs: results from phase I studies with carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, and divalproex sodium [abstract no. PII-135]. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2018;103(Suppl 1):S91.

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Krauss GL, Klein P, Brandt C, et al. Safety and efficacy of adjunctive cenobamate (YKP3089) in patients with uncontrolled focal seizures: a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, dose-response trial. Lancet Neurol. 2019;13:13.

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    French JA, Kowalski J, Maciejowski M, et al. YKP3089 in partial-onset seizures: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study [abstract no 044]. Epilepsia. 2014;55(Suppl 2):19.

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Kamin M, Ferrari L. Time to onset of efficacy in seizure reduction with cenobamate (YKP3089) in patients with uncontrolled partial seizures from 2 randomized clinical trials [abstract no P1.5-032]. Neurology. 2019;92(15 Suppl).

  19. 19.

    Sperling M, Klein P, Kamin M. Safety of cenobamate (YKP3089) as adjunctive treatment for uncontrolled focal seizures in a large, multicenter, open-label study [abstract no. P1.5-019]. Neurology. 2019;92(15 Suppl).

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Susan J. Keam.

Ethics declarations


The preparation of this review was not supported by any external funding.

Conflict of interest

During the peer review process the manufacturer of the agent under review was offered an opportunity to comment on the article. Changes resulting from any comments received were made by the authors on the basis of scientific completeness and accuracy. Susan Keam is a salaried employee of Adis International Ltd/Springer Nature, is responsible for the article content and declares no relevant conflicts of interest.

Additional information

Enhanced material

for this AdisInsight Report can be found at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11400333.

This profile has been extracted and modified from the AdisInsight database. AdisInsight tracks drug development worldwide through the entire development process, from discovery, through pre-clinical and clinical studies to market launch and beyond

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Keam, S.J. Cenobamate: First Approval. Drugs 80, 73–78 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40265-019-01250-6

Download citation