Levetiracetam versus Oxcarbazepine as monotherapy in newly diagnosed focal epilepsy: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Brain Behav. 2022 Nov;12(11):e2779. doi: 10.1002/brb3.2779. Epub 2022 Oct 2.


Objective: To compare the efficacy and safety of Levetiracetam (LEV) and Oxcarbazepine (OXC) as monotherapy for the treatment of newly diagnosed focal epilepsy.

Methods: We searched PubMed, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, and Google Scholar from January 1, 2000 to May 11, 2022, with no language restrictions along with The ClinicalTrials.gov website and the WHO International Controlled Trials Registry platforms. We pooled the risk ratio (RR) and corresponding 95% confidence interval (95% CI) for the efficacy and safety outcomes. The quality of included trials was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration's tool.

Results: Two RCTs included a total of 574 newly diagnosed focal epilepsy patients (the LEV group [282 patients] and the OXC group [292 patients]). LEV group when compared with the OXC group had no significant difference in the pooled estimate of seizure freedom at week 24. (RR: 0.81; 95% CI: 0.62-1.05, p = .11). Similarly, there was no significant difference in the pooled estimate of withdrawal due to adverse events (AEs) (RR: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.34-2.23, p = .77). The commonly reported AEs in both trials were dizziness, headache, rash, somnolence, and nasopharyngitis with zero medication-related death and few serious AEs.

Conclusions: LEV is noninferior to OXC in terms of seizure freedom at week 24 and treatment withdrawal rate due to AEs among adults but long-term treatment data is still missing. Future multicentric double-blinded RCTs and real-world studies are of great need.

Keywords: Levetiracetam; Oxcarbazepine; focal epilepsy; monotherapy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants* / adverse effects
  • Epilepsies, Partial* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Levetiracetam / therapeutic use
  • Oxcarbazepine / pharmacology
  • Oxcarbazepine / therapeutic use


  • Oxcarbazepine
  • Levetiracetam
  • Anticonvulsants