Antiepileptic drugs lamotrigine and levetiracetam are among the most effective in treating seizures in older adults with epilepsy, according to research published in the April issue of the medical journal Archives of Neurology. Lamotrigine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, is marketed as Lamicital. Levetiracetam is made by UCB, Inc., and sold under the brand name Keppra. It is also available in generics such as ANDA by Mylan Pharmaceuticals, and other generic forms made by other drug manufacturers.

The study involved 417 patients ages 55 and older who were newly taking any of 10 commonly prescribed antiepileptic medications between 2000 and 2005. The research team led by Hiba Arif, M.D., of Columbia University in New York City, looked at 12-month retention rates, seizure-free rates, and adverse effects leading to dose change for each medication. They found that lamotrigine had the highest 12-month retention rate at 79 percent and the highest 12-month seizure-freedom rate at 54 percent. Levetiracetam came in a close second with a 73 percent 12-month retention rate and a 43 percent 12-month seizure-free rate.

“This study underscores the need for further prospective trials for evaluating safety and effectiveness of multiple AEDs in older adults, a cohort that has been consistently underrepresented in prior studies, and suggests that lamotrigine and levetiracetam should be included in any future trials of treatment of epilepsy in older adults,” the authors write.

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