Primidone Intolerance in Essential tremor: Is it More than Just Age?

Abhishek Lenka, Elan D. Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: There are few medications for the treatment of essential tremor (ET). One of these, primidone, which is one of only two front-line agents, is associated with considerable adverse drug reactions (ADRs). It is unclear why some primidone-treated ET patients develop ADRs whereas others do not, and why these ADRs seem to be more prevalent in ET patients than primidone-treated patients with epilepsy. Objective: To review several possible explanations underlying the above-referenced differences. Methods: A literature search was conducted in PubMed in October 2021. Studies reporting the ADRs of primidone in different neurological conditions were comprehensively reviewed. Discussion: Although there were no head-to-head data, a review of the previous studies on ET and epilepsy patients indicates that the former is relatively more intolerant to primidone. Moreover, not all ET patients develop ADR of similar nature or severity. We discuss several potential mechanisms for this variability in the intolerance to primidone. These include: (i) older age (ET vs. epilepsy patients), (ii) cross-tolerance to primidone in patients with epilepsy, (iii) neurobiological (GABA-related) abnormalities associated with ET. Conclusion: We speculate that there are several possible explanations for primidone intolerance in ET. These possibilities should be tested in future studies, and we propose the roadmap for designing these studies. It is of value to obtain detailed insight into these complex issues because primidone remains one of the few frontline anti-tremor medications in ET. Answers to issues we have raised in this article could facilitate more customized formulation of primidone in ET patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number57
JournalTremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Essential tremor
  • GABA
  • primidone
  • side effects
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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