Levetiracetam safety profiles and tolerability in epilepsy patients

Deborah E. Briggs, Jacqueline A. French

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


This review discusses the safety and tolerability of levetiracetam, as presented by the available literature, with attention paid to special populations. In Phase II/III trials, the adverse effects occurring more commonly in the treatment groups versus the placebo group were; somnolence (14.8 versus 8.4%), asthenia (14.7 versus 9.1%), infection (primarily common cold) (13.4 versus 7.5%), and dizziness (8.8 versus 4.1%). Adverse events usually appear within the first month after treatment initiation, are not dose-dependent, are mostly mild-to-moderate, generally resolve without medication withdrawal, and are transient when the medication is stopped. No significant changes in haematology and chemistry profiles or weight occurred. Hypersensitivity reactions were rare and no idiosyncratic event has been reported. Open-label studies have added patient data with other epileptic syndromes and from a wider patient pool, such as children and patients with prior psychiatric history. These studies have supported initial safety findings, but have reported increased behavioural adverse events in children and patients with a history of prior behavioural problems. Levetiracetam is proving to be safe and well-tolerated. So far, it appears to have a favourable safety profile in special populations, such as children, the elderly, and patients with hepatic dysfunction. Preliminary data in pregnancy are promising, but more data are needed on the impact of levetiracetam on the developing fetus and pharmacokinetic alterations caused in pregnancy. Adjustments in dosing are required for decreases in renal clearance. 2004

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-424
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Safety
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004


  • Adverse events
  • Elderly
  • Levetiracetam
  • Pediatrics
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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