Levetiracetam

Sounds like 'lev-eh-turr-RASS-ih-tam'

Easy-to-read medicine information about levetiracetam – what it is, how to take levetiracetam safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as anti-epileptic medicines (to prevent seizures)
  • Everet®
  • Keppra®
  • Levetiracetam (Rex)®
  • Levetiracetam-AFT®

What is levetiracetam?

Levetiracetam is used to treat epilepsy by preventing seizures. It works by controlling the neurotransmitters (chemicals) in the brain. In New Zealand, levetiracetam is available in different strength tablets (250 mg, 500 mg, 750 mg, 1 gram). 

Dose

  • The dose of levetiracetam will be different for different people.
  • Your doctor will start you on a low dose, and increase your dose slowly over a few weeks.
  • Levetiracetam is usually taken two times a day but sometimes when starting levetiracetam it may be taken once a day for a week
  • Always take your levetiracetam exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take levetiracetam

  • Swallow your levetiracetam tablets with a glass of water, milk or juice.
  • Do not chew the tablets. If swallowing the tablets is a problem, you can crush the tablets and mix it with about 2 tablespoons of fruit juice or soft food such as yoghurt, honey or jam. Swallow all of the food or drink straight away. Note: the crushed tablets may have an unpleasant taste.
  • Take your doses at the same times each day, to help you to remember to take it. 
  • Levetiracetam is usually taken two times a day, in the morning and the evening. If you are taking levetiracetam once a day, this can be taken in the morning or evening.
  • You can take levetiracetam with or without food.
  • If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember if it is within 4 hours of when your dose was due. But, if more than 4 hours have passed since when the dose was due, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • Keep taking levetiracetam every day (see tips to help you remember to take your medicines regularly). It may take a few weeks before you notice the full benefits of levetiracetam. Do not stop taking levetiracetam suddenly; speak to your doctor or nurse before stopping.

Precautions – before starting levetiracetam

  • Are you pregnant or trying for a baby?
  • Do you have any problems with the way your kidneys or liver work?

If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor before you start levetiracetam. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, levetiracetam can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Feeling sleepy, drowsy or tired
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Headache
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Feeling sick (nausea)
  • Stomach upset
  • Try taking levetiracetam with food
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression 
  • Tell your doctor 
  • Signs of an allergic reactions such as skin rash, itches, hives
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116

Interactions

Levetiracetam interacts with a few medications, especially other medicines used for epilepsy, and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting levetiracetam or before starting any new medicines.

Learn more

Keppra Medsafe Consumer Information sheet
For children: levetiracetam New Zealand Formulary for Children

References

  1. Levetiracetam New Zealand Formulary Patient Information
  2. Levetiracetam New Zealand Formulary for Children
  3. Keppra Medsafe Data sheet
  4. Everet Medsafe Data sheet
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 21 Dec 2017