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Keppra (Levetiracetam)

by Dr William Thomas DVM Dipl.ACVIM(Neurology)

Levetiracetam (Keppra) was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1999.  The exact mechanism by which levetiracetam exerts its antiseizure effects is not completely understood, although it is a different class of drug from other anti-seizure. It is well tolerated in human patients with minimal side effects.

In dogs, levetiracetam is well absorbed after oral administration, is not significantly bound to protein, and is excreted in the urine with minimal liver metabolism. The elimination half-life in dogs is 3.3 hours (compared to 7.7 hours in people).  Safety studies in laboratory dogs showed minimal adverse effects even at high doses (UCB Pharma, Inc.  Data on file.)

There are no published studies evaluating levetiracetam in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy, but several veterinary schools are currently conducting a clinical trial of levetiracetam in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy uncontrolled with phenobarbital and bromide.

WB Thomas DVM
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN


A study to evaluate the use of levitiracetam (Keppra‚) in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is being conducted by the veterinary schools at the University of Tennessee, North Carolina State University, and Virginia Tech. This 3-year study is funded by the Morris Animal Foundation.

Levetiracetam, approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1999, has been shown to be effective for human patients in several clinical trials. Extensive studies on the pharmacokinetics and safety of levetiracetam have been performed in healthy dogs but there are no controlled clinical trials evaluating this drug in dogs with epilepsy.


Criteria for enrollment in this study are:

To enroll in the study, each patient must be evaluated at one of the 3 study hospitals.

Details of the study

This is a double-blind, placebo controlled trial lasting a total of 44 weeks. Each patient will visit the hospital 6 times during the study. These visits include reviewing seizure control and any side effects, physical examination and blood and urine tests. The evaluations, laboratory tests and study drugs are provided at no cost to the owner.

Following an initial assessment period, dogs will undergo two 16-week treatment periods, during which they will receive either levetiracetam or placebo. For example, if the patient receives levitiracetam dogsduring the first treatment period, they will receive a placebo (fake drug) during the second period and visa versa. Neither the owner nor the attending veterinarian will know which drug the patient is receiving during each treatment period. Dosage of phenobarbital and potassium bromide will not be altered throughout the study. Throughout the study, the owner will use provided forms to record seizure frequency, duration, and intensity, as well as any side effects. At the completion of the study we will reviewyour dog's results with you.

For further information about this study please contact :
William Thomas


Page last update: 12/13/2011

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