Benzodiazepines in epilepsy: Pharmacology and pharmacokinetics

J. Riss, J. Cloyd, J. Gates, S. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

299 Scopus citations


Benzodiazepines (BZDs) remain important agents in the management of epilepsy. They are drugs of first choice for status epilepticus and seizures associated with post-anoxic insult and are also frequently used in the treatment of febrile, acute repetitive and alcohol withdrawal seizures. Clinical advantages of these drugs include rapid onset of action, high efficacy rates and minimal toxicity. Benzodiazepines are used in a variety of clinical situations because they have a broad spectrum of clinical activity and can be administered via several routes. Potential shortcomings of BZDs include tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, adverse events, such as cognitive impairment and sedation, and drug interactions. Benzodiazepines differ in their pharmacologic effects and pharmacokinetic profiles, which dictate how the drugs are used. Among the approximately 35 BZDs available, a select few are used for the management of seizures and epilepsy: clobazam, clonazepam, clorazepate, diazepam, lorazepam and midazolam. Among these BZDs, clorazepate has a unique profile that includes a long half-life of its active metabolite and slow onset of tolerance. Additionally, the pharmacokinetic characteristics of clorazepate (particularly the sustained-release formulation) could theoretically help minimize adverse events. However, larger, controlled studies of clorazepate are needed to further examine its role in the treatment of patients with epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-86
Number of pages18
JournalActa Neurologica Scandinavica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Benzodiazepines
  • Clorazepate
  • Epilepsy
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Pharmacology

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