Keppra is an anti-epileptic drug, also called an anticonvulsant. It has been prescribed to treat partial onset seizures, tonic-clonic seizures, and myoclonic seizures. This drug has been approved for children as young as one month old. Keppra was approved by the FDA in 1999 and is manufactured by UCB. Keppra is generically known as levetiracetam.
The use of Keppra has been linked to suicidal thoughts and behaviors, birth defects and other side effects that have been linked to the generic form of the drug.
In one study that researched 11 different types of epilepsy drugs (including Keppra), it was found that patients who took the drugs were twice as likely to suffer from suicidal thoughts and behaviors as those taking a placebo. During the trials, four people taking the drugs committed suicide, while none of the placebo takers did.
Keppra has also been thought to cause birth defects in children whose mothers took the drug. Keppra was initially ranked as a Category C for pregnancy (no human risk). After some studies showed that Keppra may be linked to birth defects, stillbirths and congenital abnormalities, experts are now advocating the drug be ranked a Category D (positive evidence of human fetal risk).
Side effects have been seen in people who switch from taking Keppra to using the generic brand, levetiracetam. Seizures have occurred in patients after they were seizure free while taking Keppra. There was one report of a patient dying from a seizure after switching from Keppra to the generic version. The generic version has also been linked to migraines and light headedness not linked to the brand Keppra.
Serious side effects may include:
- Hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior
- Bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness
- Feeling very weak or tired
- Fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, sores in your mouth and throat
- Problems with walking or movement
- Skin rash
- Severe skin reactions, such as fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling
Less serious Keppra side effects may include:
- Mild dizziness or drowsiness
- Mild tired feeling
- Loss of appetite
- Stuffy nose