Generic name: Sodium valproate / Valproic acidAvailable as: Convulex, Epilim, Epilim Chrono, Epilim Chronosphere, Episenta (prolonged release), Epival (modified release), Sodium valproate
Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are the main form of treatment for people with epilepsy. And up to 70% (7 in 10) people with epilepsy could have their seizures completely controlled with AEDs. There are around 25 AEDs used to treat seizures, and different AEDs work for different seizures. Sodium valproate/Valproic acid carries a higher risk than other AEDs of causing developmental problems in unborn babies if taken during pregnancy.
Sodium valproate and Valproic acid must not be used in females of childbearing potential unless the conditions of the Pregnancy Prevention Programme are met and alternative treatments are ineffective or not tolerated. During pregnancy, it must not be used for epilepsy unless it is the only possible treatment. Having preconceptual counselling is recommended.
Sodium valproate is used to control some types of seizures, (commonly known as fits). It can also be used as a mood stabilizer. Patients who have bipolar disease have serious mood swings and sodium valproate helps to reduce the seriousness of these mood swings. This medicine can also be used in other medical conditions such as prevention of migraine headaches.
• In pregnancy unless there is no suitable alternative treatment
• In women of childbearing potential, unless the conditions of the pregnancy prevention program are fulfilled
• Active liver disease
• Personal or family history of severe hepatic dysfunction, especially drug related
• Patients with known urea cycle disorders
• Hypersensitivity to the active substance
• Valproate is contraindicated in patients known to have mitochondrial disorders caused by mutations in the nuclear gene encoding the mitochondrial enzyme polymerase γ (POLG), e.g. Alpers-Huttenlocher Syndrome and in children under two years of age who are suspected of having a POLG-related disorder
What are the possible side effects of the medicine?
The common side effects of sodium valproate include:
Dizziness or feeling light-headed
Nausea, vomiting, stomach upset or stomach cramp
Slight temporary hair loss at the beginning when you start to use the medicine
Increase in appetite, weight gain
Trembling of hands and arms
These symptoms may happen but should get better over time.
Check with your doctor if any of these symptoms are serious or do not go away.
If the following serious side effects happen, you should check with your doctor immediately:
Unusual bleeding or bruising
Yellowing of eyes or skin (Jaundice)
Losing appetite a lot, stomach pain or vomiting that does not go away
Feeling very weak or dizzy
Blurred vision or double vision
Feelings of confusion or thoughts about harming or killing yourself