You need to take rufinamide regularly. Do not stop taking it unless your doctor tells you to.
You will be prescribed two doses a day. Take your doses with or just after a meal.
Common side-effects include feeling dizzy or sleepy and feeling sick.
|Type of medicine||An antiepileptic medicine|
|Used for||Seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in adults or children over 4 years of age|
|Available as||Tablets and oral liquid medicine|
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. Because different parts of the brain control different functions, your symptoms will depend on which part of your brain is affected. Symptoms that may occur during a seizure can affect your muscles, sensations, behaviour, emotions, consciousness, or a combination of these.
Rufinamide is prescribed for a type of epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. This is a severe form of epilepsy which usually begins in early childhood. Rufinamide works by stabilising the electrical activity of the brain, which reduces the number of seizures which occur. It is given alongside other antiepileptic medicines.
Before taking rufinamide
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 (or your child if you are their carer) start taking rufinamide, it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you have any problems with the way your liver works.
- 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.
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby, or breast-feeding.
How to take rufinamide
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about rufinamide and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Take rufinamide exactly as your doctor tells you to. Your dose will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you what the doctor said. There are several different strengths of rufinamide 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 two doses a day: one dose to take in the morning and the other in the evening.
- It is important you try to take your doses at the same times of day - having a routine will help you to remember to take the doses regularly.
- You should take rufinamide with, or just after, a meal. Swallow the tablet with a drink of water. If you have difficulty swallowing tablets, you can crush the tablet and mix it into a small glassful of water.
- If you have been supplied with the oral liquid medicine (Inovelon® suspension), shake the bottle well before you measure out a dose. Instructions for using the dose syringe supplied with the suspension are below.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If when you remember, it is nearly time for your next dose then take your next dose when it is due but leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Instructions for using the Inovelon® suspension dosing syringe
- Shake the bottle well.
- Remove the bottle cap, and push the adaptor into the top of the open bottle.
- Insert the syringe into the adapter.
- Turn the bottle (with the syringe connected to it) upside down.
- Gently pull out the plunger of the syringe so that the suspension fills the syringe to the mark which corresponds to your dose.
- Turn the bottle the correct way up again, and remove the syringe from the bottle.
- Leave the adaptor in place, and replace the cap on the bottle.
- Put the tip of the syringe into your (or your child's) mouth, and gently push the plunger so that the liquid is released into your (or your child's) mouth.
Getting the most from this treatment
- 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 (or your child's) 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 the same form of rufinamide (that is, tablets or liquid medicine) 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.
- 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.
- 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 rufinamide 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.
Can rufinamide cause problems?
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 rufinamide. 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 rufinamide side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling dizzy, tired or sleepy||Do not drive or use tools or machines|
|Headache||Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Feeling or being sick||Stick to simple meals - avoid rich and spicy food|
|Common rufinamide side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Flu-like symptoms, nosebleeds, lack of appetite, difficulties sleeping, poor coordination, being unsteady, eyesight problems, acne, constipation or diarrhoea||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice|
Important: your doctor will discuss with you the possibility that rufinamide can cause a serious allergic reaction in a few people. Although this occurs only rarely, it is important that you contact your doctor straightaway if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- A skin rash.
- A high temperature, sore throat or swollen glands.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store rufinamide
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
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, Inovelon® Tablets; Eisai Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2013.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Inovelon ® Oral Suspension; Eisai Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2013
- 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.
Dr Helen Huins