Drugs A - Z

Levetiracetam Oral tablet, extended release

It is used with other medicines to treat certain types of seizures

Generic Name: levetiracetam

Brand Names: Keppra, Keppra XR

There is an FDA Alert for this drug. Click here to view it.

Special Alerts:

[UPDATE 05/05/2009] FDA notified healthcare professionals that it approved updated labeling for antiepileptic drugs used to treat epilepsy, psychiatric disorders, and other conditions (e.g., migraine and neuropathic pain syndromes). FDA also required development of a medication guide, to be issued to patients each time the product is dispensed. Since issuing safety alerts on December 16, 2008 and January 31, 2008, FDA has been working with the manufacturers of drugs in this class to better understand the suicidality risk. Eleven antiepileptic drugs were included in a pooled analysis of placebo-controlled clinical studies in which these drugs were used to treat epilepsy as well as psychiatric disorders and other conditions. The increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior was generally consistent among the eleven drugs, with varying mechanisms of action and across a range of indications. This observation suggests that the risk applies to all antiepileptic drugs used for any indication.

The drugs included in the analyses include (some of these drugs are also available in generic form):

  • Carbamazepine (marketed as Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol XR)
  • Felbamate (marketed as Felbatol)
  • Gabapentin (marketed as Neurontin)
  • Lamotrigine (marketed as Lamictal)
  • Levetiracetam (marketed as Keppra)
  • Oxcarbazepine (marketed as Trileptal)
  • Pregabalin (marketed as Lyrica)
  • Tiagabine (marketed as Gabitril)
  • Topiramate (marketed as Topamax)
  • Valproate (marketed as Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene, Depacon)
  • Zonisamide (marketed as Zonegran)

For more information visit the FDA website at: [Web] and [Web].

[UPDATE 12/16/2008] The FDA has completed its analysis of reports of suicidality (suicidal behavior or ideation [thoughts]) from placebo-controlled clinical trials of drugs used to treat epilepsy, psychiatric disorders, and other conditions. Based on the outcome of this review, FDA is requiring that all manufacturers of drugs in this class include a Warning in their labeling and develop a Medication Guide to be provided to patients prescribed these drugs to inform them of the risks of suicidal thoughts or actions.

For more information visit the FDA website at: [Web] and [Web].

[Posted 01/31/2008] FDA informed healthcare professionals that the Agency has analyzed reports of suicidality (suicidal behavior or ideation) from placebo-controlled clinical studies of eleven drugs used to treat epilepsy as well as psychiatric disorders, and other conditions. In the FDA’s analysis, patients receiving antiepileptic drugs had approximately twice the risk of suicidal behavior or ideation (0.43%) compared to patients receiving placebo (0.22%). The increased risk of suicidal behavior and suicidal ideation was observed as early as one week after starting the antiepileptic drug and continued through 24 weeks. The results were generally consistent among the eleven drugs. The relative risk for suicidality was higher in patients with epilepsy compared to patients who were given one of the drugs in the class for psychiatric or other conditions.

Healthcare professionals should closely monitor all patients currently taking or starting any antiepileptic drug for notable changes in behavior that could indicate the emergence or worsening of suicidal thoughts or behavior or depression.

The drugs included in the analyses include (some of these drugs are also available in generic form):

  • Carbamazepine (marketed as Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol XR)
  • Felbamate (marketed as Felbatol)
  • Gabapentin (marketed as Neurontin)
  • Lamotrigine (marketed as Lamictal)
  • Levetiracetam (marketed as Keppra)
  • Oxcarbazepine (marketed as Trileptal)
  • Pregabalin (marketed as Lyrica)
  • Tiagabine (marketed as Gabitril)
  • Topiramate (marketed as Topamax)
  • Valproate (marketed as Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene, Depacon)
  • Zonisamide (marketed as Zonegran)

Although the 11 drugs listed above were the ones included in the analysis, FDA expects that the increased risk of suicidality is shared by all antiepileptic drugs and anticipates that the class labeling changes will be applied broadly. For more information visit the FDA website at: [Web] and [Web].

REMS:

FDA approved a REMS for levetiracetam to ensure that the benefits of a drug outweigh the risks. However, FDA later rescinded REMS requirements. See the FDA REMS page ([Web]) or the ASHP REMS Resource Center ([Web]).

What is this medicine?

LEVETIRACETAM (lee ve tye RA se tam) is an antiepileptic drug. It is used with other medicines to treat certain types of seizures.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • kidney disease
  • suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempt; a previous suicide attempt by you or a family member
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to levetiracetam, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

Take this medicine by mouth with a glass of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Do not cut, crush or chew this medicine. You may take this medicine with or without food. Take your doses at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. Do not stop taking this medicine or any of your seizure medicines unless instructed by your doctor or health care professional. Stopping your medicine suddenly can increase your seizures or their severity.

A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.

Contact your pediatrician or health care professional regarding the use of this medication in children. While this drug may be prescribed for children as young as 4 years of age for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose and it has only been a few hours, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medicine?

  • sevelamer

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Visit your doctor or health care professional for a regular check on your progress. Wear a medical identification bracelet or chain to say you have epilepsy, and carry a card that lists all your medications.

It is important to take this medicine exactly as instructed by your health care professional. When first starting treatment, your dose may need to be adjusted. It may take weeks or months before your dose is stable. You should contact your doctor or health care professional if your seizures get worse or if you have any new types of seizures.

You may get drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness until you know how this medicine affects you. Do not stand or sit up quickly, especially if you are an older patient. This reduces the risk of dizzy or fainting spells. Alcohol may interfere with the effect of this medicine. Avoid alcoholic drinks.

The use of this medicine may increase the chance of suicidal thoughts or actions. Pay special attention to how you are responding while on this medicine. Any worsening of mood, or thoughts of suicide or dying should be reported to your health care professional right away.

Women who become pregnant while using this medicine may enroll in the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry by calling 1-888-233-2334. This registry collects information about the safety of antiepileptic drug use during pregnancy.


Last Updated: August 16, 2011
Licensed from
The Healthline Site, its content, such as text, graphics, images, search results, HealthMaps, Trust Marks, and other material contained on the Healthline Site ("Content"), its services, and any information or material posted on the Healthline Site by third parties are provided for informational purposes only. None of the foregoing is a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Healthline Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Please read the Terms of Service for more information regarding use of the Healthline Site.
Advertisement