Antiepileptic drug treatment of generalized tonic–clonic seizures: An evaluation of regulatory data and five criteria for drug selection

Publication date: May 2018Source:Epilepsy & Behavior, Volume 82
Author(s): Simon D. Shorvon, Pedro E. Bermejo, Ayana A. Gibbs, Gilles Huberfeld, Reetta Kälviäinen
BackgroundA generalized tonic–clonic seizure (GTCS) is the most severe form of common epileptic seizure and carries the greatest risk of harm. The aim of this review is to provide an evidence-based guide for the selection of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) for patients with GTCSs. Eight AEDs are approved in Europe and the USA for the treatment of both primarily GTCSs (PGTCSs) and secondarily GTCSs (SGTCSs) and are considered in this paper.MethodsEach AED is evaluated using five criteria: (1) efficacy, by seizure type (a: PGTCSs and b: SGTCSs); (2) adverse effects; (3) interactions; (4) adherence and dosing; and (5) mechanism of action (MOA). To ensure the inclusions of robust data, only efficacy data accepted by regulatory authorities were considered, and data related to adverse effects, interactions, adherence, and MOA were all extracted from UK Summaries of Product Characteristics (SPCs).Results(1a) There is class 1 evidence of the efficacy of only four AEDs in controlling PGTCSs (lamotrigine, levetiracetam, perampanel, and topiramate). (1b) There is no class 1 evidence of the efficacy of any AED in SGTCSs although some evidence from pooled/subgroup analyses or meta-analyses supports the use of the four AEDs (levetiracetam, perampanel, topiramate, and with less robust data for lamotrigine). (2) AEDs are associated with different, but to some extent overlapping, common adverse effect profiles but have differing idiosyncratic adverse effects. (3) Pharmacokinetic interactions are seen with most, but not all, AEDs and are most common with carbamazepine and phenytoin. (4) Good adherence is important for seizure control and is influenced by frequency of dosing, among other factors. (5) Mechanism of action is also a consideration in rationalising AED selection when switching or combining AEDs.ConclusionUltimately, the choice of AED depends on all these factors but particularly on efficacy and adverse effects. Different patients will weigh the various factors differently, and the role of the treating physician is to provide accurate information to allow patients to make informed choices.