Ethotoin (ETH-oh-toin) has been approved by the FDA to control tonic-clonic (grand mal) and focal-onset impaired awareness (psychomotor) seizures.

Your epilepsy treatment should always be discussed with your healthcare provider before use. Based on their judgment and knowledge, a drug may be prescribed for other epilepsy types not included in the indications. For more information, please see the prescribing information.

How can you take ethotoin? (Available formulations)

Ethotoin is available as tablets taken after food.

Who should not take ethotoin?

If you have hepatic (liver) abnormalities or hematologic (blood) disorders, then you should not take ethotoin.

Other considerations may influence whether you should take ethotoin. Tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • have or have had depression, mood problems, or suicidal thoughts or behavior.
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

What is important to know about taking ethotoin?

Do not stop taking ethotoin suddenly unless directed to do so by your healthcare provider.

As with all antiseizure medications, ethotoin should be withdrawn gradually to minimize the risk of causing or worsening seizures or status epilepticus. You should not stop using ethotoin suddenly unless your healthcare provider tells you to stop the medicine because of a serious side effect.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Taking ethotoin with certain other medicines may cause side effects or affect how well they work. Do not start or stop other medicines without talking to your healthcare provider. Especially tell your healthcare provider if you take: St John’s wort.

Women or those who are/plan to become pregnant
Use in pregnancy

Ethotoin can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant individual. However, having a seizure during pregnancy could harm both the pregnant individual and the baby. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant. Do not start or stop taking seizure medication during pregnancy without your healthcare provider’s advice.

If you become pregnant while taking ethotoin, talk to your healthcare provider about registering with the North American Antiepileptic Drug (NAAED) Pregnancy Registry. The purpose of this registry is to collect information about the safety of antiseizure medicine during pregnancy. You can enroll in this registry by calling 1-888-233-2334.

Use during breastfeeding

Ethotoin is present in breast milk. It is unknown if there are effects on the breastfed infant, or if ethotoin impacts milk production. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks. Your healthcare provider will consider the developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding along with your need for ethotoin and the potential effect on the infant from ethotoin or from your epilepsy.

What are the side effects of ethotoin?

Ethotoin is approved by the FDA because it is safe and effective for the majority of people who take it. However, there are risks associated with all medicines. Some side effects caused by ethotoin can be very serious, and even life-threatening. It is important to be informed about these serious reactions and to be aware of their symptoms.

Common side effects

The most common side effects that were reported in studies of ethotoin are nausea or vomiting, tiredness, rash, dizziness, jerky eye movements, walking and balance problems, double vision, overgrowth of gum tissue.

Rare, but serious side effects
Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Studies have found that people who take antiseizure medications including ethotoin may have suicidal thoughts or behaviors, which occur in approximately 1 in 500 patients. If you experience any thoughts or impulses to hurt yourself, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.