- What is levetiracetam (Keppra), and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for levetiracetam?
- Is levetiracetam available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for this medication?
- What are the side effects of levetiracetam?
- What is the dosage, and how do I take levetiracetam?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with this drug?
- Is this drug safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about this medication?
What is levetiracetam (Keppra), and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Levetiracetam (Keppra) is an antiseizure (antiepileptic) drug. Its mechanism of action is unknown, but it inhibits the spread of seizure activity in the brain. In studies, addition of levetiracetam to other antiseizure drugs reduced the frequency of seizures more than placebo.
What brand names are available for levetiracetam?
Keppra, Keppra XR, Roweepra, and Spritam are the brand names available for levetiracetam in the US.
Do I need a prescription for this medication?
Yes, you need a prescription from your doctor or other health care professional for this drug.
What are the side effects of levetiracetam?
Common side effects associated with levetiracetam include:
- Difficulty walking or moving
- A decrease in red or white blood cell counts
In some patients Keppra causes behavioral abnormalities such as:
- Mood swings
- Personality disorder
Other side effects include:
- Steven-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis (severe skin reactions) in children and adults
- High blood pressure
Like other antiseizure medications, levetiracetam should not be discontinued suddenly because of the risk of increased seizure activity.
Antiepileptic medications have been associated with increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior. Anyone considering the use of antiepileptic drugs must balance this risk of suicide with the clinical need. Patients who are started on therapy should be closely observed for clinical worsening, suicidal thoughts, or unusual changes in behavior.
Quick GuideEpilepsy: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
What is the dosage, and how do I take levetiracetam?
- The recommended daily dose of levetiracetam in adults is 3000 mg. Therapy is initiated with 1000 mg daily (500 mg twice daily) and increased by 1000 mg/day every two weeks up to the maximum recommended dose of 3000 mg/day.
- Immediate release tablets, oral solution, and intravenous solutions are administered twice daily, and extended release tablets are administered once daily.
- The recommended daily dose for children is 60 mg/kg (30 mg/kg twice daily). Therapy is initiated with 20 mg/kg (10 mg/kg twice daily) and increased by 20 mg/kg every two weeks until the recommended daily dose of 60 mg/kg is reached.
Which drugs or supplements interact with this drug?
Probenecid (Benemid) reduces the elimination of levetiracetam by the kidneys, potentially doubling the concentration of levetiracetam in the body. This could lead to side effects from probenecid.
Is this drug safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- Levetiracetam has not been adequately studied in pregnant women. Levetiracetam is used during pregnancy only if the benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
- Levetiracetam is excreted in breast milk. To avoid potential serious side effects in infants who are breastfeeding mothers should consider not breast-feeding while taking levetiracetam.
What else should I know about this medication?
What preparations of levetiracetam are available?
Tablets (immediate release): 250, 500, 750 and 1000 mg. Tablets (extended release): 500 and 750 mg. Oral solution: 100 mg/ml. Injection solution: 5, 10, 15, and 100 mg/ml.
How should I keep levetiracetam stored?
Levetiracetam should be stored at 25 C (77 F). Brief storage at 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F) is acceptable.
When was levetiracetam approved by the FDA?
The FDA approved levetiracetam in November 1999.
Levetiracetam (Keppra, Keppra XR, Roweepra,Spritam) is an antiseizure medication used in combination with other antiseizure medications to treat myoclonic, partial onset, or tonic seizures in children and adults. (The safety and effectiveness in patients younger than 4 years of age has not been established.)
Common side effects are:
Keppra has few drug interactions, and it should be used during pregnancy and
breastfeeding only if the potential benefits of the drug justifies the potential
risk to the fetus and infant.
The abuse and potential dependence on this drug hasn't been studied in humans. While there are no known incidences of overdose with Keppra, signs and symptoms of overdose are sleepiness, agitation, aggression, a depressed level of consciousness, respiratory depression, and coma.
Discuss any concerns about this drug with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health-care professional.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Epilepsy & Seizures Quiz: What Causes Seizures?
Do you know the difference between seizures and epilepsy? What are the types of seizures? Take the Epilepsy & Seizures Quiz to...
Epilepsy: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Learn about epilepsy stages, symptoms and treatment for this disorder of the brain's electrical system. Epileptic seizures cause...
Related Disease Conditions
Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which the person has seizures. There are two kinds of seizures, focal and generalized. There are...
Seizures Symptoms and Types
Seizures are divided into two categories: generalized and partial. Generalized seizures are produced by electrical impulses from...
Febrile seizures, or convulsions caused by fever, can be frightening in small children or infants. However, in general, febrile...
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
Daily Health News
Brain & Nervous Resources
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
FDA Prescribing Information
Top levetiracetam-oral Related Articles
Seizures QuizDo you know the difference between seizures and epilepsy? What are the types of seizures? Take the Epilepsy & Seizures Quiz to test your knowledge and learn about this complex disorder of the brain.
Epilepsy SlideshowLearn about epilepsy stages, symptoms and treatment for this disorder of the brain's electrical system. Epileptic seizures cause brief impulses in movement, behavior, sensation or awareness that may cause brain damage.
Epilepsy TreatmentEpileptic seizures mostly controlled through drug therapy, particularly anticonvulsant drugs. Types of treatment prescribed depends on several factors including the frequency and severity of the seizures as well as the person's age, overall health and medical history. Other forms of treatment options also exist including ketogenic diet and electrical stimulation.
Febrile SeizuresFebrile seizures, or convulsions caused by fever, can be frightening in small children or infants. However, in general, febrile seizures are harmless. Febrile seizure is not epilepsy. It is estimated that one in every 25 children will have at least one febrile seizure. It is important to know what to do to help your child if he/she has a febrile seizure. Some of the features of a febrile seizure include:
- losing consciousness,
- moving limbs on both sides of the body,
- lasts 1-2 minutes.
SeizureEpilepsy is a brain disorder in which the person has seizures. There are two kinds of seizures, focal and generalized. There are many causes of epilepsy. Treatment of epilepsy (seizures) depends upon the cause and type of seizures experienced.
Seizures Symptoms and TypesSeizures are divided into two categories: generalized and partial. Generalized seizures are produced by electrical impulses from throughout the brain, while partial seizures are produced by electrical impulses in a small part of the brain. Seizure symptoms include unconsciousness, convulsions, and muscle rigidity.