Over the past 20 years, there has been an exponential growth of antiseizure medications (ASM) available. In 1975, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke established the Anticonvulsant Drug Development program, in which thousands of new chemical entities were screened for antiseizure activity.1 Over 20 compounds were found to have possible antiepileptic activity and many have shown promising clinical results.2 From 2000 to 2019, when this article was written, there were 11 new ASMs approved by the FDA; although ezogabine was removed from the market in 2017. The increased availability of ASMs provides alternatives for practitioners and people with epilepsy. These medications have unique mechanisms of action, and each has different pharmacologic properties, including drug-drug interactions, pharmacokinetics , and common adverse effects. Older ASMs, such as phenobarbital, phenytoin, and valproic acid work by binding GABA receptors or sodium (Na+) channels. The newer medications have different mechanisms and binding sites, including α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors, potassium channels, and synaptic vesicle protein 2A (SV2A).

It is important for practitioners to know the pharmacologic profile of each ASM to better understand which ASM may be the best fit for a given individual (Table).3-13 Despite the increased number of ASMs available, approximately 30% of people with epilepsy do not achieve a reduction in or freedom from seizures with pharmacologic treatment.14 An unmet need remains to develop more ASMs that can treat various types of seizure disorders, with fewer side effects, minimal drug-drug interactions, and different formulations, as well as disease-modifying treatments.

1. Brodie MJ. Antiepileptic drug therapy the story so far. Seizure. 2010;19(10) 650-655.

2. Perucca E, French J, Bialer M. Development of new antiepileptic drugs: challenges, incentives, and recent advances. Lancet Neurol. 2007;6(9):793-804.

3. Brivaracetam [package insert]. Smyrna, GA: UCB, Inc; 2016.

4. Strzelczyk A, Steinig I, Willems L, Reif P. Treatment of refractory and super-refractory status epilepticus with brivaracetam: a cohort study from two German university hospitals. Epilepsy Behav. 2017; 70(Pt A):177-181.

5. Cannabidiol [package insert]. Carlsbad, Ca: Greenwich Biosciences: 2018.

6. Clobazam [package insert]. Deerfield, IL: Lundbeck: 2011.

7. Eslicarbazepine [package insert]. Marlborough, MA: Sunovion: 2013.

8. Lacosamide [package insert]. Smyrna, GA: UCB, Inc; 2008.

9. Oxcarbazepine [package insert]. East Hanover, NJ: Novartis Pharmaceuticals: 2000.

10. Perampanel [package insert]. Woodcliff Lake, NJ: Eisai Inc: 2012.

11. Rufinamide [package insert]. Woodcliff Lake, NJ: Eisai Inc: 2008.

12. Tiagabine [package insert]. Frazer, PA: Cephalon Inc: 2011.

13. Vigabatrin [package insert]. Deerfield, IL: Lundbeck: 2009.

14. Loscher W, Klitgaard H, Twyman R, Schmidt D. New avenues for anti-epileptic drug discovery and development. Nature Rev Drug Discov. 2013;12(10):757-776.

 LC reports no disclosures.