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.
How Well It Works
Felbamate controls partial seizures
in adults very well. In children with
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, felbamate may reduce seizure
Common side effects of felbamate
Nausea, vomiting, and
Insomnia (sleep problems).
Felbamate can cause serious liver and bone marrow problems. 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 eyes.
FDA Advisory. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
issued an advisory on antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) and the risk of suicide. Talk
to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide in adults and in children and teens.
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.
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. A woman taking felbamate may need to use a method of birth control other than birth control pills to
reduce her chances of becoming 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.
Drugs for epilepsy (2008). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 6(70): 37–46.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.