It is not known exactly how felbamate
Why It Is Used
Felbamate may be used to prevent
partial seizures in adults and children. But it
has some very serious side effects. It is used with caution in younger children
since they may not be able to communicate symptoms of potentially serious side
effects, such as chills or stomach pain.
How Well It Works
Felbamate controls partial seizures
in adults very well. In children with
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, felbamate may reduce seizure
frequency but not make the child seizure-free.1 But
it has made some children more alert and improved their quality of life.
Common side effects of felbamate
Nausea, vomiting, and
Insomnia (sleep problems).
Most of these problems tend to go away after the body
adjusts to the drug. Weight loss and insomnia are common long-term problems,
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a
warning on antiepileptic medicines and the risk of suicide and suicidal
thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines.
Instead, people who take antiepileptic medicine should be watched closely for
warning signs of suicide. People who take
antiepileptic medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk
to a doctor.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects.
(Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
It may take
time and careful, controlled adjustments by you and your doctor to find the
combination, schedule, and dosing of medicine to best manage your epilepsy. The
goal is to prevent seizures while causing as few side effects as
you and your doctor figure out the medicine program that works best for you, make sure you follow your program exactly as prescribed.
Adverse effects. Felbamate should be used with
extreme caution, because it carries a significant risk of liver and bone marrow
failure, which can be fatal. You or your child may need to be checked often for signs of liver disease while taking the drug. A serious blood
aplastic anemia can also result from the use of
felbamate. Watch for early signs of liver, bone marrow, or blood problems, such
as easy bruising, a change in skin color, prolonged bleeding, fatigue, fever,
change in stool color, or a change in the color of the whites of the
Drug interactions. Many medicines for epilepsy can
interact with other medicines you may be taking. This means that your epilepsy
medicine may not work as well, or it may affect the way another medicine you
are taking works. Some of these interactions can be dangerous. It is important
to tell your doctor about all the medicines, herbal pills, and dietary
supplements you are taking. Felbamate may make birth control pills less
effective. If you are taking felbamate and birth control pills, you may be more
likely to become pregnant.
Risk of birth defects. All medicines for epilepsy have some
risk of birth defects. But the risk of birth defects needs to be carefully
compared to other risks to the baby if the mother stops taking her epilepsy
medicine. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, it is important to plan
ahead and talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking epilepsy
medicine during your pregnancy. It you are already pregnant, it is not too
late. The best thing to do is talk to your doctor about your pregnancy before
you make any changes to the medicines you are taking.
Other concerns. Despite these risks, felbamate may be used in some people
because the drug has been successful in treating seizures that do not respond
to other drugs (refractory seizures). This is especially true of children with
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which does not usually respond well to other drugs.
But because of its potentially life-threatening side effects, felbamate
should be used only in those people for whom the risks of having seizures are
greater than the risks caused by taking felbamate.
Jarrar RG, Buchhalter JR (2003). Therapeutics in
pediatric epilepsy, part 1: The new antiepileptic drugs and the ketogenic diet.
Mayo Clinical Procedures, 78(3): 359–370.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.