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Spotlight on Oxcarbazepine in Epilepsy

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Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal®, Timox®) is structurally related to carbamazepine and has anticonvulsant activity. Studies suggest that the anticonvulsant activity of oxcarbazepine is mediated via the blocking of neuronal ion channels.

In patients aged <18 years, the efficacy of oxcarbazepine monotherapy was similar to that of phenytoin in children with partial onset or generalised tonic-clonic seizures in a 48-week trial. Additional supporting findings demonstrated that 43–71% of patients with partial onset, generalised or undetermined epilepsy were seizure free after oxcarbazepine monotherapy (mean dosage 27.7–50 mg/kg/ day; duration 1–5 years). In contrast, one small nonblind trial showed more patients treated with oxcarbazepine monotherapy than with carbamazepine monotherapy had recurrent seizures during 16 months of therapy (although the conclusions that can be drawn from this trial are limited).

As adjunctive therapy, oxcarbazepine was significantly better than placebo at reducing seizure frequency in children and adolescents with refractory partial onset seizures with or without secondary generalisation: the median percentage change in partial onset seizure frequency was 35% versus 9%, respectively, during 16 weeks of therapy. In noncomparative trials of adjunctive oxcarbazepine (mean dosage of 34.5–56.7 mg/kg/day), 7–11% of patients with partial onset or generalised seizures were seizure free during treatment, and 20–54% had seizure reductions of ≥50%.

Oxcarbazepine was generally well tolerated during monotherapy and adjunctive therapy; 2.5% and 10% of patients withdrew from well controlled trials of oxcarbazepine monotherapy and adjunctive therapy. Oxcarbazepine monotherapy was better tolerated than phenytoin and events observed in oxcarbazepine-treated patients were transient.

Oxcarbazepine metabolism is largely unaffected by induction of the cytochrome (CYP) P450 system. However, oxcarbazepine can inhibit CYP2C19 and induce CYP3A4 and CYP3A5, thereby interfering with the metabolism of other drugs (e.g. phenytoin). In addition, oxcarbazepine decreases plasma levels of oral contraceptives and alternative contraceptive methods should be used.

In conclusion, oxcarbazepine (as both monotherapy and adjunctive therapy) has shown efficacy in the treatment of partial onset seizures in children with epilepsy. Nevertheless, the generally favorable tolerability profile and relatively low potential for drug interactions of oxcarbazepine make it a valuable option in the treatment of childhood epilepsy. 1 This Spotlight is derived from abstract and summary text of an Adis Drug Evaluation originally published in full in Pediatric Drugs 2003; 5 (8): 557-573. Reviewers of the original full text article are listed in the Acknowledgements section.

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The full text article in Pediatric Drugs 2003; 5(8): 557-73 was reviewed by: M. Brodie, Epilepsy Unit, Western Infirmary, Glasgow, Scotland; S. Crecco, School of Pharmacy, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; E. Faught, Department of Neurology, University of Alabama School of Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama, USA; E. Gaily, Hospital for Children and Adolescents, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; M. Kalis, School of Pharmacy, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; D. Schmidt, Epilepsy Research Group, Berlin, Germany; P.E. Smith, Epilepsy Unit, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, Wales; E. Tecoma, UCSD Epilepsy Center, University of California, San Diego, California, USA.

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Correspondence to Lynne M. Bang.

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This Spotlight is derived from abstract and summary text of an Adis Drug Evaluation originally published in full in Pediatric Drugs 2003; 5 (8): 557–573. Reviewers of the original full text article are listed in the Acknowledgements section.

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Bang, L.M., Goa, K.L. Spotlight on Oxcarbazepine in Epilepsy. CNS Drugs 18, 57–61 (2004). https://doi.org/10.2165/00023210-200418010-00006

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  • Adjunctive Therapy
  • Oxcarbazepine
  • Anticonvulsant Activity
  • Partial Onset Seizure
  • Major Active Metabolite