After a short historical review of the development of the pharmaceutical treatment of the epilepsies the author reviews some of the possible strategies to manage patients with the different types of epilepsies and epileptic syndromes using the classical drugs. A strategy used by most of the physicians uses Sodium Valproate as the first line drug for almost all patients. This may be replaced by other drugs according to their efficacy against the different types of seizures to be treated whenever VPA has not enough efficacy or isnt well tolerated. On the other hand epileptologists use the different drugs according to the different epilepsies and epileptic syndromes depending on the relative efficacy of each drug available and the possible side effects. He then describes succinctly the better-known new drugs and makes some comments on the coming drugs now in development. Finally he proceeds to include them in the strategies above described. Lamotrigine and possibly Topiramate are good candidates to replace VPA in the one drug strategy. Lamotrigine, Oxcarbamazepine and possibly Gabapentin may be used in the future as 1 st line drugs in selected patients. Vigabatrin is already used as one of the better alternatives for West syndrome and Oxcarbamazepine has replaced Carbamazepine in countries where its available to the public. Some drawbacks have been apparent with these drugs like the hepatic and haematological toxic effect of Felbamate or the apparently irreversible fields constriction provoked by Vigabatrin, which did limit their use.
Epilepsy, Benzodiazepines, Etosuximide, Sodium Valproate, Carbamazepine, phenytoin, Vigabatrin, GABA transaminase, Oxcarbazepine, OXC, Lamotrigine, Gabapentin, Topiramate, Zonisamide
Servico de Neurologia,Departamento de Doencas Neurologicas, Hospital Geral de SantoAntonio, 4050 Porto, Portugal