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Lamotrigine - An Update

     Martin J. Brodie

Abstract:   Lamotrigine (LTG) inhibits repetitive high frequency firing in depolarised neurones by selectively prolonging slow inactivation of the sodium channel, thereby suppressing the release of excitatory amino acids. It has been shown to be effective in 11 pivotal double-blind add-on trials in patients with refractory partial seizures with or without secondary generalisation. Subsequent anecdotal data support its efficacy for typical and atypical absences, myoclonic jerks, tonic or clonic seizures, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and infantile spasms. Most recently LTG has been compared with carbamazepine and phenytoin in double-blind trials in patients with newly diagnosed partial and primary and secondary generalised tonic-clonic seizures. At the doses used, its efficacy was similar to the older agents for all seizure types, but LTG was better tolerated than both of the older agents. The commonest side-effects with LTG include headache, nausea, diplopia, dizziness, ataxia and tremor. Rash occurs in fewer than 5% patients. Its incidence can be reduced by starting treatment with a low dose, particularly in patients receiving concomitant sodium valproate which inhibits LTG metabolism. Enzyme inducers, such as carbamazepine, phenytoin and phenobarbital, accelerate its elimination, but LTG itself has no effect on hepatic metabolic processes. A pharmacodynamic interaction with carbamazepine necessitates a dosage reduction in some patients when LTG is introduced. LTG is a new antiepileptic agent with a long elimination half-life, a broad spectrum of activity, and a wide therapeutic ratio.

Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 1996; 23: Suppl. 2-S6-S9


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