The symptoms of epilepsy can often be managed with drugs, but they are not a cure for the disease. When a person starts a new medication for epilepsy, it often takes time to find the right dose to provide optimal control of seizures while minimizing side effects. Since 1990, the FDA has approved several different medicines; some of the more recently approved ones include diazepam, felbamate, and pregabalin.
Treatment for epilepsy can include special diets, drugs, surgery, or a combination of these options. By far, however, the most common treatment is medication for epilepsy, known as antiseizure medicines or anticonvulsants.
Things to keep in mind concerning epilepsy medication include the following:
- For about 80 percent of those people diagnosed with epilepsy, seizures can be controlled with medications, surgery, or both.
- People with epilepsy may take medicine up to four times a day to prevent seizures.
- Drugs for epilepsy treat the related symptoms. They do not cure the disease.
- There are many different forms of epilepsy, and certain types of medications seem to work best for different types of epilepsy.
Since 1990, a large number of new epilepsy medications have been approved, increasing the treatment options for patients and their doctors.
The oldest drugs used in the treatment of epilepsy include phenobarbital, introduced in 1912, and Dilantin® (phenytoin), in use since 1938. Altogether, nearly two dozen different medicines have been approved for epilepsy treatment. Some recent drugs that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved include:
- Felbatol® (felbamate)
- Neurontin® (gabapentin)
- Lamictal® (lamotrigine)
- Topamax® (topiramate)
- Gabitril® (tiagabine)
- Diastat® (diazepam)
- Lyrica® (pregabalin).