Levetiracetam comes in tablet
How It Works
It is not known exactly how levetiracetam prevents seizures.
Why It Is Used
Levetiracetam (Keppra) may be used to help control
partial seizures in adults. It is usually used with,
not instead of, other antiepileptic medicines (add-on, or adjunctive,
Levetiracetam may also be used alone or in combination with other
epilepsy drugs to treat seizures that affect the entire brain (generalized) in
adults. Or it may be used alone or in combination with other epilepsy medicines
in children who have
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or absence seizures.
How Well It Works
Levetiracetam may help control seizures in children who have Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and absence seizures.1
Levetiracetam, when taken alone, may also work to control seizures in people who are newly diagnosed with epilepsy.1
Levetiracetam usually causes only mild side effects. The most
common ones are:
- Dizziness and
- Mild agitation, anxiety, or
Unlike many of the antiepileptic medicines, levetiracetam is not
likely to cause an adverse reaction when used at the same time as other
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 possible. After you and your doctor figure out the
program that works best for you, make sure to follow your
program exactly as prescribed.
Drug interactions. Levetiracetam may be a good choice
if you are taking medicines for other conditions, because it does not interact
with other medicines. It is also a good choice if you take birth control pills,
because it will not make the pills any less effective.
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, be sure
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. For some people, levetiracetam may produce side effects or carry
risks that are not yet fully known. Report any unexpected side effects or
problems to your doctor.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Drugs for epilepsy (2008). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 6(70): 37–46.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Steven C. Schachter, MD - Neurology
||August 26, 2011