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What Is Ezogabine?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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Ezogabine, which is also often called retigabine, is a medication used as a supplementary treatment in patients who suffer from seizures. It is currently available in many parts of the world, and in late 2011 is expected to be available to patients in the United States. It is designed to treat only partial seizures, and though it is not effective for all patients, in many patients it significantly lowers the instance of these seizures, which start by affecting only a portion of the brain. Its high instance of side effects, some of which are serious, makes it appropriate only for patients with severe epileptic seizures that are not adequately controlled.

This medication works by helping to open potassium channels in neuronal cells and works on two of the KCNQ potassium channels. By opening these channels, ezogabine helps to keep them from becoming too excited electrically. Neuronal cells that become electrically overstimulated can release set off an epileptic seizure. In some patients, a mutation in one of the KCNQ channels causes epilepsy, and ezogabine is able to target these faulty cells in some patients.

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Though ezogabine will prevent seizures in some patients, it is not a cure for epilepsy. The medicine will only help to open certain potassium channels while it is active in the bloodstream and needs to be taken regularly so that the level of medicine in a patient's bloodstream does not decrease. In most patients, ezogabine is taken as a pill three times per day, at a dose of between 600 and 1,200 milligrams per day.

Designed to be used as a supplemental treatment for epilepsy, ezogabine is believed to be safe to take in conjunction with most other anti-seizure medications. It prevents seizures in a different way than most other anti-seizure medications, so taking it with another type of drug can help substantially decrease a patient's chances of having a seizure. Though it does not work in all patients, it can be an effective supplemental treatment.

Patients who take ezogabine will need to watch for a number of potentially serious side effects. The drug, like many anti-seizure medications, is known to cause hallucinations, fatigue, amnesia, and sleep disorders. Some patients who take this medication may also find it difficult to urinate, which can lead to infection if not treated. The severity of side effects causes some patients to discontinue the use of ezogabine, though the severity of seizures is often enough to warrant the use of this type of medication.

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