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Content Update

Jan. 10, 2018

Newly Approved Medications for Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet Syndromes: The U.S. FDA approved two new medications for additional seizure control in patients who are resistant to standard therapies alone. Cannabidiol (Epidiolex) was approved as an adjunctive treatment for seizures related to Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut Syndromes and stiripentol (Diacomit) is indicated for patients with Dravet Syndrome who are also taking clobazam. Both medications have proven to be effective in decreasing the percentage of drop seizures over a trial period compared to placebo. Though these medications appear effective, the true long-term impact cannot be accurately assessed with the data presented. Both of these drugs will be available in the United States over the course of 2019.

Content Update

April 29, 2018

Risk of Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis with Lamotrigine Use: Lamotrigine is an antiepileptic medication used for management of epilepsy and mood disorders such as bipolar disorder. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a new warning regarding the risk for hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), which is a rare immune system reaction.


For the chapter in the Wells Handbook, please go to Chapter 53. Epilepsy.



  • image Accurate classification and diagnosis of seizure type/epilepsy syndrome, including mode of seizure onset, is critical to selection of appropriate pharmacotherapy.

  • image The goal of pharmacotherapy is seizure freedom with minimal side effects, and two-thirds to 80% percent of patients can achieve this.

  • image Patients who do not respond to drug therapy should be referred to a comprehensive epilepsy center to determine if nonpharmacologic treatments such as surgery are potential options.

  • image Patient specific treatment goals should be identified as early as possible, and patient characteristics such as age, comorbid conditions, ability to adhere with the prescribed regimen, presence or absence of insurance coverage, gender, child-bearing ability, and ethnicity should be considered.

  • image If the therapeutic goal is not achieved with monotherapy, a second antiseizure drug (ASD), preferably with a different mechanism of action, can be added, or a switch to an alternative single ASD can be made.

  • image Pharmacotherapy of epilepsy is highly individualized and requires titration of the dose to optimize ASD therapy (maximal seizure control with minimal or no side effects).

  • image Newer ASDs appear to have comparable efficacy to older ASDs and are perhaps better tolerated.

  • image Despite numerous drug trials, 20% to 35% of patients will have unsatisfactory control with ASDs.

Epilepsy is a common neurologic condition in which a person is prone to recurrent epileptic seizures. There are many types of epilepsies characterized by different seizure types, ranging in severity and etiologies. While the specific pathophysiologic mechanisms behind different epilepsies are complex, the underlying general pathophysiologic process at the heart of all epilepsies is disturbed regulation of electrical activity in the brain resulting in synchronized and excessive neuronal discharge.

Beyond seizures, people with epilepsy face many challenges. ...

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