There are both similarities and differences when comparing Keppra® (levetiracetam) and diazepam (Valium®). Both medications can be used to treat seizures. However, diazepam is used in conjunction with other seizure medications to treat seizures that are particularly difficult to control.
Keppra is used to treat several types of seizures, including partial seizures, myoclonic seizures, and generalized tonic ("grand mal") seizures.
When looking at Keppra vs. diazepam, there are also important differences in how these drugs affect the body. Studies have shown that Keppra does not work like any other seizure medication, although it is not known exactly how it works. Diazepam works in the brain by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical that is naturally calming.
GABA can slow down or stop certain nerve signals in the brain. This is why diazepam and other benzodiazepines are known as mild tranquilizers, sedatives, or central nervous system depressants (CNS depressants).
Both diazepam and Keppra can cause side effects. Some of the most common side effects of diazepam include drowsiness, fatigue, and coordination problems. For Keppra, the most common problems include vomiting, drowsiness, and accidental injury.
(Click Diazepam and Keppra for more information on how these two drugs compare, including how they work and conditions they are approved to treat. These articles also cover some general safety precautions and dosing guidelines.)
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: Approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed June 3, 2007.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
National Library of Medicine (US). Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMED). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT. Accessed June 3, 2007.
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