Eslicarbazepine acetate as a replacement for levetiracetam in people with epilepsy developing behavioral adverse events

Epilepsy Behav. 2018 Mar;80:365-369. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2018.01.020. Epub 2018 Feb 5.


Background: Psychiatric and behavioral side effects (PBSEs) are a major cause of antiepileptic drug (AED) withdrawal. Levetiracetam (LEV) is a recognized first-line AED with good seizure outcomes but recognized with PBSEs. Eslicarbazepine (ESL) is considered to function similarly to an active metabolite of the commonly used carbamazepine (CBZ). Carbamazepine is used as psychotropic medication to assist in various psychiatric illnesses such as mood disorders, aggression, and anxiety.

Aim: The aim was to evaluate the psychiatric profile of ESL in people who had LEV withdrawn due to PBSEs in routine clinical practice to see if ESL can be used as a possible alternative to LEV.

Methods: A retrospective observational review was conducted in two UK epilepsy centers looking at all cases exposed to ESL since its licensing in 2010. The ESL group was all patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy who developed intolerable PBSEs to LEV, subsequently trialed on ESL. The ESL group was matched to a group who tolerated LEV without intolerable PBSEs. Psychiatric disorders were identified from case notes. The Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D) was used to outcome change in mood. Clinical diagnoses of a mental disorder were compared between groups using the Fisher's exact test. Group differences in HAM-D scores were assessed using the independent samples t-test (alpha=0.05).

Results: The total number of people with active epilepsy in the two centers was 2142 of whom 46 had been exposed to ESL. Twenty-six had previous exposure to LEV and had intolerable PBSEs who were matched to a person tolerating LEV. There was no statistical differences in the two groups for mental disorders including mood as measured by HAM-D (Chi-square test: p=0.28).

Conclusion: The ESL was well tolerated and did not produce significant PBSEs in those who had PBSEs with LEV leading to withdrawal of the drug. Though numbers were small, the findings suggest that ESL could be a treatment option in those who develop PBSEs with LEV and possibly other AEDs.

Keywords: Behavior; Eslicarbazepine; Levetiracetam; Psychiatric side effects.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage*
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Dibenzazepines / administration & dosage*
  • Dibenzazepines / adverse effects
  • Drug Substitution*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Epilepsy / complications
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Levetiracetam / administration & dosage
  • Levetiracetam / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / chemically induced
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / drug therapy*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel Blockers / administration & dosage*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Dibenzazepines
  • Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel Blockers
  • Levetiracetam
  • eslicarbazepine acetate