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sodium valproate / Valproic acid

Generic name: Sodium valproate / Valproic acid

Available as: Convulex, Epilim, Epilim Chrono, Epilim Chronosphere, Episenta (prolonged release), Epival (modified release), ​Sodium valproate

Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are the main form of treatment for people with epilepsy. And up to 70% (7 in 10) people with epilepsy could have their seizures completely controlled with AEDs. There are around 25 AEDs used to treat seizures, and different AEDs work for different seizures. 

Sodium valproate/Valproic acid carries a higher risk than other AEDs of causing developmental problems in unborn babies if taken during pregnancy. Sodium valproate and Valproic acid must not be used in females of childbearing potential unless the conditions of the Pregnancy Prevention Programme are met and alternative treatments are ineffective or not tolerated. During pregnancy, it must not be used for epilepsy unless it is the only possible treatment. Having preconceptual counselling is recommended. 

This information is a guide only. For more information on doses and side effects visit electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) or the British National Formulary (BNF).

Find out more about sodium valproate

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  • A first line AED is an AED that is tried first. Some AEDs added to a first line AED are called second line AEDs.
  • AEDs are not split into first and second line for treating children age 12 and under. 
  • Treatment of neonatal seizures (from birth to 28 days of age) is not covered.
  • ‘Effective’ means the seizures it works for. ‘Monotherapy’ means the AED is taken on its own. ‘Add-on therapy’ means the AED is taken alongside other AEDs. ‘Tolerance’ means that a drug becomes less effective the longer you take it.
  • Information for this page comes from sources including the British National Formulary (BNF), the British National Formulary for children (BNFC) and the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC). 
  • Every effort is made to ensure that all information is correct at time of publishing but information may change after publishing. This information is not a substitute for advice from your doctor. Epilepsy Society is not responsible for any actions taken as a result of using this information.

Are you receiving the right information?

Our sodium valproate survey showed us that almost 70% of the women surveyed haven't received new safety warnings about the dangers of taking it during pregnancy. Read the sodium valproate guidelines

Girls and women under 50, are you taking sodium valproate? Please read about this important information...

Graphic of women with baby in womb

The epilepsy drug sodium valproate may affect future generations

New research from Konkuk University in South Korea suggests epilepsy drug may affect future generations