Retigabine for epilepsy

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You need to take retigabine regularly to prevent seizures from occurring. Do not stop taking it unless your doctor tells you to.

You will be asked to take three doses a day.

Retigabine may colour your urine - this is harmless. It can also cause discolouration of your skin, nails, lips or eyes. If any of these happen, let your doctor know.

Type of medicineAn antiepileptic medicine
Used forEpilepsy with partial seizures
Also calledTrobalt®
Available asTablets

Having epilepsy means that you have had more than one unexplained fit, or seizure. A seizure is a short episode of symptoms caused by a burst of abnormal electrical activity in your brain. With partial seizures (also called focal seizures), the burst of electrical activity is in one part of your brain and therefore you tend to have localised or 'focal' symptoms. Because different parts of the brain control different functions, your symptoms will depend on which part of your brain is affected. Partial seizures can sometimes develop into seizures which affect all of your brain. These are called secondary generalised seizures. Symptoms that may occur during a seizure can affect your muscles, sensations, behaviour, emotions, consciousness, or a combination of these.

The seizures can be prevented in most people by suitable antiepileptic medication. Retigabine works alongside other antiepileptic medicines to stabilise the electrical activity of your brain. This helps to prevent the seizures from occurring. It is prescribed for adults with symptoms which have proved difficult to control with other medicines, or if other medicines are not suitable.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking retigabine it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby, or breast-feeding.
  • If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work, or with the way your liver works.
  • If you have an abnormal heart rhythm or any other heart condition.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about retigabine and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take retigabine exactly as your doctor tells you to. Your dose will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you about what the doctor said. There are several different strengths of retigabine tablets. It is usual to start treatment on a low dose, and then for the dose to be increased gradually to a regular maintenance dose. You will be prescribed three doses a day.
  • It is important you try to take your doses at the same times of day, each day. Having a routine will help you to remember to take your doses regularly.
  • Swallow the tablet whole with a drink of water - do not crush, break or chew the tablet. You can take retigabine either before or after meals.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember and then leave at least three hours before you take your next dose. After this, continue to take your doses at your usual times. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • When you first start a new treatment for epilepsy there may be a change in the number or type of seizures you experience. Your doctor will advise you about this.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • Different formulations of some antiepileptic medicines can act in a slightly different way in your body. Because of this, your doctor may recommend that you continue to take retigabine from the same manufacturer each time you obtain a new supply. If so, each time you collect a prescription, check to make sure your supply looks the same and that the name is the same. If you are unsure, or if you have any questions about your prescription, please ask your pharmacist to advise you.
  • Retigabine can colour your urine. This is nothing to worry about. If, however, you have any difficulties passing urine or any pain when you go to the toilet, you must tell your doctor about this as soon as possible.
  • While you are being treated for epilepsy there is a small risk that you may develop mood changes, distressing thoughts and feelings about suicide. If this happens, you must tell your doctor about it straightaway.
  • People with epilepsy must stop driving at first. Your doctor will advise you about when it may be possible for you to start driving again. This will usually be after a year free of seizures.
  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice. Your doctor may advise you not to drink alcohol while you are on this medicine because it will increase the risk of side-effects, such as blurred vision.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with your antiepileptic medication.
  • Many antiepileptic medicines can harm an unborn child. If you are a woman, make sure you have discussed with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner. If you want to have a family, discuss this with your doctor so that you can be given advice from a specialist before you become pregnant.
  • You need to take retigabine regularly every day. Do not stop taking it unless your doctor tells you to stop. Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems and your doctor will want you to reduce your dose gradually if this becomes necessary.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with retigabine. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common retigabine side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling dizzy, weak or sleepy

If any of these happen, do not drive or use tools or machines
Colour changes in the eyes; discolouration of the lips, skin or nailsThese can occur after taking retigabine for several years - your doctor will monitor for these changes
Common retigabine side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling sick, indigestionStick to simple meals - avoid rich and spicy food
ConstipationEat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water each day
Dry mouthTry chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets
Difficulties passing urineLet your doctor know about this as soon as possible
Blurred sight or double visionDo not use tools or machines while affected. Let your doctor know about this as soon as possible
Feeling confused or disorientated, thinking or believing things that are not realLet your doctor know about this as soon as possible
Increased appetite, feeling unsteady or shaky, forgetfulness, a spinning sensation (vertigo), numbness or tingling feelingsIf any of these become troublesome, let your doctor know

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Trobalt®; GlaxoSmithKline UK, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated April 2014.
  • British National Formulary; 68th Edition (Sep 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Hannah Gronow
Document ID:
13856 (v2)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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