For more than 100 years, various kinds of medications have been used to treat seizure disorders.
1861 – Bromides – The first medication used to provide control for seizures; however, severe side effects occurred. The bromides extracted a heavy cost in terms of toxicity.
1912 – Phenobarbital – This medication was as effective as bromides, however easier to administer and less toxic. There were many side effects with this drug.
1936 – Phenytoin – Known as the “miracle” drug of its day. This drug was used as a first choice, or when phenobarbital failed. it was one of the most widely used drugs.
1964 – Valporate – The discovery of valporates’s effectiveness as an anti-seizure drug created a new therapeutic paradigm. This drug was thought to be effective in enhancing y-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the nervous system, and became one of the first drugs in which a mode of action was proposed. This drug has been licensed in the UK for clinical use since 1973, and in the US since 1978.
NOW – New medications more specific to GABA (a major inhibitory neurotransmitter involved in motor control) are available. GABA began the rational scientific era in the development of anti-seizure drugs. Other “rational” targets are the voltage-dependent sodium channel, and the glutamate receptors.