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Anticonvulsant Side Effects


Anti-seizure medications, also known as antiepileptic medications or anticonvulsants, are used for a number of medical disorders. Several, such as phenobarbital and phenytoin, were originally developed to specifically control epileptic seizures. Many anti-seizure medications are now used for anxiety, insomnia, mood swings in bipolar disorder, and for pain.

There are several common side effects associated with anti-seizure medications. Most are minor; however, some may be life-threatening. Common side effects include fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, vertigo, blurred vision, weight gain, memory problems, and nausea. Serious and even life-threatening side effects include fever, bleeding that cannot be controlled, irregular heartbeat, severe potentially fatal rash, and liver failure.

Understand Your Risks with the Rxight® Genetic Test

To mitigate these risks, Rxight® DNA Testing looks at a patient’s genetic makeup to determine whether genetic variants are present that put them at risk for side effects or medication inefficacy. However, most prescribers still use a traditional “trial-and-error” method to find appropriate doses for medicines to reduce the occurrence of side effects and rely solely on periodic monitoring of blood, heart, liver, kidneys and vision to avoid long-term adverse effects. Furthermore, when patients understand a medication will have less significant side effects, compliance with the recommended drug therapy program increases.

How Does Pharmacogenetic Testing Work?

Pharmacogenetics is the study of the way that inter-individual variations (called polymorphisms) for specific genes affect drug metabolism. Many antiepileptic drugs are metabolized in the liver by the cytochrome P450 enzymes. Gene CYP2D6 affects the metabolism of almost 25 percent of all drugs. More than 150 variations of this gene have been identified. Genetic variants of CYP enzymes can affect the rate of metabolism of a drug. A slow rate of metabolism allows the drug to stay active in the body longer. This can produce adverse effects or cause toxicity. A fast metabolic rate results in elimination of a drug without a therapeutic benefit.

Contributors to this Article:
Michael Sapko, MD, PhD; Deborah Kallick, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry

Anticonvulsants Tested Include:

  • Brivaracetam (Briviact)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol, Epitol)
  • Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)
  • Eslicarbazepine-Acetate (Aptiom)
  • Eslicarbazepine-Acetate (Aptiom)
  • Ethosuximide (Zarontin)
  • Ethosuximide (Zarontin)
  • Ezogabine (Potiga)
  • Felbamate (Felbatol)
  • Fosphenytoin (Cerebyx)
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise, Gabarone, Fanatrex)
  • Lacosamide (Vimpat)
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • Levetiracetam (Keppra, Elepsia)
  • Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal, Oxtellar)
  • Perampanel (Fycompa)
  • Phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton)
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytoin Sodium, Phenytek)
  • Pregabalin (Lyrica)
  • Primidone (Mysoline)
  • Rufinamide (Banzel)
  • Tiagabine (Gabitril)
  • Topiramate (Topamax, Topiragen, Qudexy)
  • Valproic Acid (Depakote, Depakene, Stavzor)
  • Vigabatrin (Sabril)
  • Zonisamide (Zonegran)

Read more about Rxight® DNA Testing For Seizure Medications