Purpose of Review: Treatment of epilepsy starts with antiepileptic drug (AED) monotherapy. Knowledge of the spectrum of efficacy, clinical pharmacology, and modes of use for individual AEDs is essential for optimal treatment for epilepsy. This article addresses AEDs individually, focusing on key pharmacokinetic characteristics, indications, and modes of use.
Recent Findings: Older-generation AEDs are effective but have tolerability and pharmacokinetic disadvantages. Several newer-generation AEDs have undergone comparative trials demonstrating efficacy equal to and tolerability at least equal to or better than older AEDs as first-line therapy. The list includes lamotrigine, oxcarbazepine, levetiracetam, topiramate, and, more recently, zonisamide. Pregabalin was found to be less effective than lamotrigine. Lacosamide, pregabalin, and eslicarbazepine have undergone successful trials of conversion to monotherapy. Other newer-generation AEDs with a variety of mechanisms of action are suitable for adjunctive therapy. Rational AED combinations should avoid AEDs with unfavorable pharmacokinetic interactions or pharmacodynamic interactions related to mechanism of action.
Summary: Knowledge of AED pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and tolerability profiles facilitates the choice of appropriate AED therapy for patients with epilepsy.