Generic Name: Divalproex Sodium
Treatment of partial or absence seizures by itself or as add-on therapy in adults and children 10 years and older. Though not FDA-approved, it is also effective in other primary generalized seizures. It is also used to treat mood disorders and headache.
How it works
We think these drugs work by helping one of the brain chemicals (GABA) to work better. Depakote® is made with a coating to prevent stomach upset. These drugs are usually given orally and are well absorbed. These drugs are handled in the body by both the liver and the kidneys. The half life is 6 to 17 hours in adults.
Forms of the medicine
These drugs are available as syrup, sprinkles, tablets and capsules
The capsules/tablets are to be swallowed whole, do not crush, break or chew. The sprinkle capsules can be opened and the medicine beads can be mixed with a small amount (about a spoonful) of soft food such as applesauce or pudding. Swallow this food mixture whole, do not chew. The syrup should be carefully measured using a marked spoon or medicine cup. This can be mixed with small amount of food or liquid. Dosing amounts and frequency of dosing will be decided by the treating physician.
Nausea and vomiting are the most commonly reported side effects, also increased appetite and resulting weight gain, hair thinning or hair loss (usually temporary) and menstrual irregularities, including absence of the monthly period. Cases of liver failure (some fatal) have been reported in children under the age of 2 who were taking several antiepileptic drugs and had other disabilities. Other reported effects include cognitive effects, tremor, and elevated liver enzymes.
Information for Pregnant women and nursing mothers
Women who become pregnant while on these drugs have an increased risk of having a child with spina bifida or other birth defects. Women who are taking this medication and who wish to become pregnant should discuss treatment options with their physicians before the pregnancy begins. These drugs pass into breast milk.
These drugs interact with several of the major antiepileptic drugs, but not with the oral contraceptive pill.
Care during treatment with these drugs
You should take the medicine as prescribed by your physician. If you are late in taking a dose by 2-3 hours, you should take it. If you miss a dose altogether, you should wait until the next dose and take the prescribed amount, or consult your physician. Report any side effects. As a rule, antiepilepsy drugs should not be abruptly discontinued because of the possibility of increasing seizure frequency.
Possible Contraindications to the use of these drugs
Patients with liver disease or a history of an allergic reaction should not take these drugs.
Not everyone experiences side effects. There may be other side effects not appearing above. For a complete list, consult your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. More detailed sources of information on side effects include the drug’s prescribing information sheet, the Physician’s Desk Reference, or pharmaceutical company which produces the drug.
More information on Depakote can be found here.