Oxcarbazepine prevents seizures by calming the electrical activity
in the brain. It works in a fashion similar to carbamazepine (for example,
Tegretol), which for many years has been used to treat
Why It Is Used
Oxcarbazepine may be used to treat
partial seizures in adults and children. In adults, it
may be used by itself or combined with another antiepileptic medicine.
How Well It Works
Initial studies indicate that oxcarbazepine is effective in adults and children when it is added
to other antiepileptic medicines.1
Also, when used alone, oxcarbazepine can help control partial seizures.2
The most common side effects of oxcarbazepine include:
or upset stomach.
In rare cases, oxcarbazepine may cause a serious skin rash. Contact
your doctor if you develop a rash while taking oxcarbazepine.
Less commonly, oxcarbazepine may lower
sodium levels in the blood or cause problems with
double vision, speech, concentration, coordination, and walking.
People who have had a serious allergic reaction to carbamazepine
are more likely to have an adverse reaction to oxcarbazepine too.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on
antiepileptic medicines and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA
does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, people who
take antiepileptic medicine should be watched closely for
warning signs of suicide. People who take
antiepileptic medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk
to a doctor.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference
is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
It may take time and careful, controlled adjustments by you and
your doctor to find the combination, schedule, and dosing of medicine to best
manage your epilepsy. The goal is to prevent seizures while causing as few
side effects as possible. After you and your doctor figure out the
medicine program that works best for you, make sure to follow your program
exactly as prescribed.
Drug interactions. Many medicines for epilepsy can
interact with other medicines you may be taking. This means that your epilepsy
medicine may not work as well, or it may affect the way another medicine you
are taking works. Some of these interactions can be dangerous. Make sure
to tell your doctor about all the medicines, herbal pills, and dietary
supplements you are taking. Oxcarbazepine may make birth control pills less
effective. A woman taking oxcarbazepine may need to use a method of birth
control other than birth control pills to reduce her chances of becoming
Risk of birth defects. All medicines for epilepsy
have some risk of birth defects. But the risk of birth defects needs to be
carefully compared to other risks to the baby if the mother stops taking her
epilepsy medicine. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, be sure
to plan ahead and talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking
epilepsy medicine during your pregnancy. It you are already pregnant, it is not
too late. The best thing to do is talk to your doctor about your pregnancy
before you make any changes to the medicines you are taking.
Other concerns. For some people, oxcarbazepine may
cause side effects or carry risks that are not yet fully known. Report any
unexpected side effects or problems to your doctor.
Castillo S, et al. (2000). Oxcarbazepine add-on for
drug-resistant partial epilepsy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3).
Drugs for epilepsy (2008). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 6(70): 37–46.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.