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Anticonvulsants Drugs: Summary of Recommendations
Anticonvulsant drugs are prescribed to treat a range of medical conditions in addition to seizure disorders, like epilepsy. Among those are bipolar disorder, fibromyalgia, and pain caused by nerve injuries (neuralgia) or other conditions.

Overall, study results showing how well anticonvulsants work in treating those three conditions are mixed, and vary by both specific drug and disorder. Other treatment options might work as well as or better than anticonvulsants. That said, some anticonvulsants have been linked to clear clinical benefits, and several have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating bipolar disorder, nerve pain, or fibromyalgia.

Anticonvulsants can cause serious side effects, including an increased risk of suicide and life-threatening skin rashes. They can also cause dangerous interactions with other medications. Newer anticonvulsants marketed since the late 1990s have sometimes been touted as safer and posing less risk of adverse effects than older ones. No large, good quality studies have tested this directly, but small, short-term studies that compared the drugs don't support such a conclusion.
 Taking cost, dosing convenience, effectiveness, safety, and adverse effects into consideration, we have chosen the following as Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs if you and your doctor decide that an anticonvulsant might be appropriate:
  • Generic carbamazepine – for treating the manic phases of bipolar disorder and for trigeminal neuralgia, a type of nerve pain that affects facial trigeminal nerves.
  • Generic valproic acid or generic divalproex – for treating the manic phases of bipolar disorder.
  • Generic lamotrigine – for treating the depressive phases of bipolar disorder.
  • Generic gabapentin – for treating nerve pain associated with diabetes or herpes zoster infection (shingles), and for treating fibromyalgia.

This report was published in July 2011.
Anticonvulsant Drugs: Drug Comparison
Note: If the price box contains a , that indicates the dose of that drug is available for a low monthly cost through programs offered by large chain stores. For example, Kroger, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart offer a month's supply of selected generic drugs for $4 or a three-month supply for $10. Other chain stores, such as Costco, CVS, Kmart, and Walgreens, offer similar programs. Some programs have restrictions or membership fees, so check the details carefully for restrictions and to make sure your drug is covered.


Recommendations: Anticonvulsant Drugs
CR Best Buy Generic Name and Dose Brand Name (or Generic)1 Number of Pills Per Day2 Total Daily Dose3 Average Monthly Cost4 Best Buy Indication Compare
Prices
  Carbamazepine 100 mg chewable tablet Tegretol Three 300 mg $75  
best buy Carbamazepine 100 mg chewable tablet Generic Three 300 mg $21$ Manic phases of bipolar disorder and trigeminal neuralgia
  Carbamazepine 200 mg tablet Epitol Three 600mg $15  
  Carbamazepine 200 mg tablet Tegretol Three 600mg $115  
best buy Carbamazepine 200 mg tablet Generic Three 600mg $19$ Manic phases of bipolar disorder and trigeminal neuralgia
  Carbamazepine 100 mg SR tablet 5 Carbatrol Two 200mg $134  
  Carbamazepine 100 mg SR tablet Tegretol XR Two 200mg $42  
  Carbamazepine 200 mg SR tablet Carbatrol Two 400mg $133  
  Carbamazepine 200 mg SR tablet Tegretol XR Two 400mg $79  
best buy Carbamazepine 200 mg SR tablet Generic Two 400mg $58 Manic phases of bipolar disorder and trigeminal neuralgia
  Carbamazepine 300 mg SR tablet Carbatrol Two 600mg $133  
  Carbamazepine 400 mg SR tablet Tegretol XR Two 800mg $145  
best buy Carbamazepine 400 mg SR tablet Generic Two 800mg $112 Manic phases of bipolar disorder and trigeminal neuralgia
  Divalproex 125 mg tablet Depakote Three 375mg $140  
best buy Divalproex 125 mg tablet Generic Three 375mg $66 Manic phases of bipolar disorder
  Divalproex 125 mg capsule Depakote Sprinkle Three 375mg $134  
best buy Divalproex 125 mg capsule Generic Three 375mg $375 Manic phases of bipolar disorder
  Divalproex 250 mg tablet Depakote Three 750mg $242  
best buy Divalproex 250 mg tablet Generic Three 750mg $108 Manic phases of bipolar disorder
  Divalproex 500 mg tablet Depakote Three 1,500mg $433  
best buy Divalproex 500 mg tablet Generic Three 1,500mg $187 Manic phases of bipolar disorder
  Divalproex 250 mg SR tablet Depakote ER One 250mg $79  
best buy Divalproex 250 mg SR tablet Generic One 250mg $42 Manic phases of bipolar disorder
  Divalproex 500 mg SR tablet Depakote ER One 500mg $123  
best buy Divalproex 500 mg SR tablet Generic One 500mg $66 Manic phases of bipolar disorder
  Gabapentin 100 mg capsule Neurontin Three 300mg $99  
best buy Gabapentin 100 mg capsule Generic Three 300mg $33$ Nerve pain from diabetes or herpes zoster infection (shingles), and fibromyalgia
best buy Gabapentin 100 mg tablet Generic Three 300mg $46 Nerve pain from diabetes or herpes zoster infection (shingles), and fibromyalgia
  Gabapentin 300 mg capsule Neurontin Three 900mg $217  
best buy Gabapentin 300 mg capsule Generic Three 900mg $68 Nerve pain from diabetes or herpes zoster infection (shingles), and fibromyalgia
  Gabapentin 400 mg capsule Neurontin Three 1,200mg $257  
best buy Gabapentin 400 mg capsule Generic Three 1,200mg $82 Nerve pain from diabetes or herpes zoster infection (shingles), and fibromyalgia
best buy Gabapentin 400 mg tablet Generic Three 1,200mg $119 Nerve pain from diabetes or herpes zoster infection (shingles), and fibromyalgia
  Gabapentin 600 mg tablet Neurontin Three 1,800mg $396  
best buy Gabapentin 600 mg tablet Generic Three 1,800mg $134 Nerve pain from diabetes or herpes zoster infection (shingles), and fibromyalgia
  Gabapentin 800 mg tablet Neurontin Three 2,400mg $462  
best buy Gabapentin 800 mg tablet Generic Three 2,400mg $145 Nerve pain from diabetes or herpes zoster infection (shingles), and fibromyalgia
  Lamotrigine 25 mg tablet Lamictal One 25mg $196  
best buy Lamotrigine 25 mg tablet Generic One 25mg $92 Depressive phases of bipolar disorder
  Lamotrigine 25 mg dissolvable tablet LamictalODT One 25mg $186  
  Lamotrigine 25 mg SR tablet LamictalXR One 25mg $177  
  Lamotrigine 50 mg dissolvable tablet LamictalODT One 50mg $200  
  Lamotrigine 50 mg SR tablet LamictalXR One 50mg $368  
  Lamotrigine 100 mg tablet Lamictal One 100mg $212  
best buy Lamotrigine 100 mg tablet Generic One 100mg $106 Depressive phases of bipolar disorder
  Lamotrigine 100 mg dissolvable tablet LamictalODT One 100mg $213  
  Lamotrigine 100mg SR tablet LamictalXR One 100mg $378  
  Lamotrigine 150 mg tablet Lamictal One 150mg $221  
best buy Lamotrigine 150 mg tablet Generic One 150mg $118 Depressive phases of bipolar disorder
  Lamotrigine 200 mg tablet Lamictal One 200mg $255  
best buy Lamotrigine 200 mg tablet Generic One 200mg $122 Depressive phases of bipolar disorder
  Lamotrigine 200 mg dissolvable tablet LamictalODT One 200mg $256  
  Lamotrigine 200 mg SR tablet LamictalXR One 200mg $400  
  Levetiracetam 250 mg tablet Keppra Two 500mg $327  
  Levetiracetam 250 mg tablet Generic Two 500mg $109  
  Levetiracetam 500 mg tablet Keppra Two 1,000mg $382  
  Levetiracetam 500 mg tablet Generic Two 1,000mg $127  
  Levetiracetam 500 mg SR tablet KeppraXR One 500mg $173  
  Levetiracetam 750 mg tablet Keppra Two 1,500mg $560  
  Levetiracetam 750 mg tablet Generic Two 1,500mg $174  
  Levetiracetam 750 mg SR tablet KeppraXR One 750mg $232  
  Levetiracetam 1,000 mg tablet Keppra Two 2,000mg $766  
  Levetiracetam 1,000 mg tablet Generic Two 2,000mg $289  
  Oxcarbazepine 150 mg tablet Trileptal Two 300mg $172  
  Oxcarbazepine 150 mg tablet Generic Two 300mg $74  
  Oxcarbazepine 300 mg tablet Trileptal Two 600mg $287  
  Oxcarbazepine 300 mg tablet Generic Two 600mg $125  
  Oxcarbazepine 600 mg tablet Trileptal Two 1,200mg $505  
  Oxcarbazepine 600 mg tablet Generic Two 1,200mg $208  
  Phenytoin 30mg ER capsule 6 Dilantin Three 90mg $63  
  Phenytoin 50mg chewable tablet Dilantin Three 150mg $74  
  Phenytoin 100mg ER capsule Dilantin Three 300mg $56  
  Phenytoin 100mg ER capsule Generic Three 300mg $27  
  Phenytoin 200 mg ER capsule Phenytek Two 400mg $76  
  Phenytoin 200 mg ER capsule Generic Two 400mg $60  
  Phenytoin 300 mg ER capsule Phenytek One 300mg $59  
  Phenytoin 300mg ER capsule Generic One 300mg $42  
  Pregabalin 25 mg capsule Lyrica Three 75mg $310  
  Pregabalin 50 mg capsule Lyrica Three 150mg $299  
  Pregabalin 75 mg capsule Lyrica Three 225mg $300  
  Pregabalin 100 mg capsule Lyrica Three 300mg $307  
  Pregabalin 150 mg capsule Lyrica Three 450mg $303  
  Pregabalin 200 mg capsule Lyrica Three 600mg $306  
  Pregabalin 225 mg capsule Lyrica Two 450mg $208  
  Pregabalin 300 mg capsule Lyrica One 300mg $103  
  Tiagabine 2 mg tablet Gabitril Three 6mg $508  
  Tiagabine 4 mg tablet Gabitril Three 12mg $513  
  Tiagabine 12 mg tablet Gabitril Three 36mg $669  
  Tiagabine 16 mg tablet Gabitril Three 48mg $866  
  Topiramate 15mg capsule Topamax Two 30mg $247  
  Topiramate 15mg capsule Generic Two 30mg $133  
  Topiramate 25 mg tablet Topamax Two 50mg $245  
  Topiramate 25 mg tablet Generic Two 50mg $102  
  Topiramate 25 mg capsule Topamax Two 50mg $315  
  Topiramate 25 mg capsule Generic Two 50mg $158  
  Topiramate 50 mg tablet Topamax Two 100mg $445  
  Topiramate 50 mg tablet Generic Two 100mg $207  
  Topiramate 100 mg tablet Topamax Two 200mg $625  
  Topiramate 100 mg tablet Generic Two 200mg $303  
  Topiramate 200 mg tablet Topamax Two 400mg $762  
  Topiramate 200 mg tablet Generic Two 400mg $387  
best buy Valproic Acid 250 mg capsule Generic Three 750mg $41 Manic phases of bipolar disorder
  Valproic Acid 250 mg delayed release capsule Stavzor Three 750mg $233  
  Valproic Acid 500 mg delayed release capsule Stavzor Three 1,500mg $413  
  Zonisamide 25 mg capsule Zonegran One 25mg $37  
  Zonisamide 25 mg capsule Generic One 25mg $14$  
  Zonisamide 50 mg capsule Generic One 50mg $19  
  Zonisamide 100 mg capsule Zonegran One 100mg $135  
  Zonisamide 100 mg capsule Generic One 100mg $31  

1. "Generic" indicates that this is the generic version of this drug at the dose given.

2. Reflects typical or commonly recommended dosing. Many of the anticonvulsants are prescribed at widely varying doses that may be less than or greater than the range indicated in this table. With many drugs in this tablet, it is also common to start at a lower dose for two weeks or more and have the dose increased over the next few weeks. Many of the drugs are ineffective or only marginally effective at too low a dose.

3. See note 2.

4. Prices reflect nationwide retail averages for April 2011. They are rounded to the nearest dollar. Information derived by Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs from data provided by Wolters Kluwer Health, Pharma Solutions, which is not involved in our analysis or recommendations.

5. SR=Sustained release

6. ER=Extended release