Felbamate (Felbatol) was introduced with the expectation that it would become a major drug in the treatment of epilepsy. Felbamate exhibited few manifestations of serious toxicity in early clinical trials. Soon after its introduction, however, it became apparent that its use was associated with a high incidence of aplastic anemia. Consequently, felbamate is indicated only for patients whose epilepsy is so severe that the risk of aplastic anemia is considered acceptable.

While its mechanism of action has not been clearly established, felbamate shows some activity as an inhibitor of voltage-dependent sodium channels in a manner similar to that of phenytoin and carbamazepine. Felbamate also interacts at the strychnine-insensitive glycine recognition site on the NMDA receptor-ionophore complex. Whether this effect is important to its anticonvulsant activity is not clear.

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The Prevention and Treatment of Headaches

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