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Divalproex sodium (Oral)

Generic name: divalproex sodium [ dye-VAL-proe-ex-SOE-dee-um ]
Brand names: Depakote, Depakote DR, Depakote ER, Depakote Sprinkles
Drug class: Fatty acid derivative anticonvulsants

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Mar 30, 2024.

Oral route(Tablet, Delayed Release;Capsule, Delayed Release;Tablet, Extended Release)

Hepatotoxicity (some cases fatal), usually occurring during the first 6 months of treatment, has been reported in patients receiving valproate and its derivatives. Children younger than 2 years and patients with hereditary mitochondrial disease are at a considerably increased risk of developing fatal hepatotoxicity. For these patients under 2 years, valproate sodium should be used with extreme caution as a sole agent. Use is contraindicated in patients with known mitochondrial disorders caused by mitochondrial DNA polymerase gamma (POLG) mutations and in children younger than 2 years in which mitochondrial disorder is clinically suspected. Failure of other anticonvulsants is the only indication for divalproex sodium in patients older than 2 years with hereditary mitochondrial disease. Perform POLG mutation screening as clinically indicated. Monitor patients closely and perform liver function tests prior to therapy and at frequent intervals thereafter, especially during the first 6 months. Valproate can impair cognitive development with prenatal exposure and produce major congenital malformations, particularly neural tube defects (eg, spina bifida). Valproate is contraindicated for prophylaxis of migraine headaches in pregnant women and women of childbearing potential who are not using effective contraception. Valproate should not be administered to a woman of childbearing potential unless other medications have failed or are otherwise unacceptable. Effective contraception should be used in such situations. Life-threatening pancreatitis has been reported in both children and adults receiving valproate. Cases have occurred shortly after initiation as well as several years after use. If pancreatitis is diagnosed, valproate should ordinarily be discontinued .

Uses for divalproex sodium

Divalproex sodium is used to treat certain types of seizures (epilepsy). This medicine is an anticonvulsant that works in the brain tissue to stop seizures.

Divalproex sodium is also used to treat the manic phase of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) and helps prevent migraine headaches.

This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before using divalproex sodium

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of divalproex sodium in children. However, safety and efficacy have not been established for other indications in children, and to treat seizures in children younger than 10 years of age. Because of divalproex sodium's toxicity, use in children younger than 2 years of age requires extreme caution.

Geriatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of divalproex sodium in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have unwanted effects (eg, tremors or unusual drowsiness), which may require an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving divalproex sodium.

Breast Feeding

There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Interactions with Medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other Medical Problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper use of divalproex sodium

Take this medicine exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. To keep blood levels constant, take this medicine at the same time each day and do not miss any doses.

This medicine comes with a Medication Guide or patient information leaflet. Read and follow the instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.

You may take this medicine with food to avoid stomach upset.

Swallow the sprinkle capsules whole. It may also be opened and the contents may be sprinkled onto a teaspoonful of soft food, such as applesauce or pudding. This mixture must be swallowed immediately without chewing and followed with a glass of water to ensure complete swallowing of the sprinkles.

Swallow the extended-release tablet or tablet whole with a full glass of water. Do not split, crush, or chew it.

Part of the medicine may pass into your stool after your body has absorbed the medicine. Check with your doctor right away if this happens.

Dosing

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Storage

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Precautions while using divalproex sodium

It is very important that your doctor check your or your child's progress closely while you are using this medicine to see if it is working properly and to allow for a change in the dose. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for any unwanted effects.

Using this medicine while you are pregnant (especially during the first 3 months of pregnancy) can harm your unborn baby and cause serious unwanted effects (eg, brain or facial problems, heart or blood vessel problems, arm or leg problems, or intelligence or mental problems). Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.

It is very important to take folic acid before getting pregnant and during early pregnancy to lower chances of harmful side effects to your unborn baby. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for help if you are not sure how to choose a folic acid product.

Liver problems may occur while you are using this medicine, and some may be serious. Check with your doctor right away if you are having more than one of these symptoms: abdominal or stomach pain or tenderness, clay-colored stools, dark urine, decreased appetite, fever, headache, itching, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, skin rash, swelling of the feet or lower legs, unusual tiredness or weakness, or yellow eyes or skin.

Pancreatitis may occur while you are using this medicine. Tell your doctor right away if you have sudden and severe stomach pain, chills, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, or lightheadedness.

Check with your doctor right away if you are having unusual drowsiness, dullness, tiredness, weakness or feelings of sluggishness, changes in mental status, low body temperature, or vomiting. These may be symptoms of a serious condition called hyperammonemic encephalopathy.

Divalproex sodium may cause some people to become dizzy, lightheaded, drowsy, or less alert than they are normally. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.

Do not stop using this medicine without first checking with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping completely. This may help prevent worsening of seizures and reduce the possibility of withdrawal symptoms.

Before you have any medical tests, tell the medical doctor in charge that you are using this medicine. The results of some tests may be affected by this medicine.

Divalproex sodium may cause serious allergic reactions affecting multiple body organs (eg, liver or kidney). Check with your doctor right away if you have the following symptoms: a fever, dark urine, headache, rash, stomach pain, swollen lymph glands in the neck, armpit, or groin, unusual tiredness, or yellow eyes or skin.

Divalproex sodium may cause some people to be agitated, irritable, or display other abnormal behaviors. It may also cause some people to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies or to become more depressed. If you notice any of these side effects, tell your doctor right away.

This medicine will add to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (medicines that cause drowsiness). Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for hay fever, other allergies, or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine, prescription pain medicine or narcotics, medicine for seizures (eg, barbiturates), muscle relaxants, or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of the above while you are using this medicine.

If you plan to have children, talk with your doctor before using this medicine. Some men receiving this medicine have become infertile (unable to have children).

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

Side Effects of divalproex sodium

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common

Less common

Incidence not known

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:

Symptoms of overdose

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

Less common

Incidence not known

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Commonly used brand name(s)

In the U.S.

In Canada

Available Dosage Forms:

Therapeutic Class: Anticonvulsant

Pharmacologic Class: Valproic Acid

Chemical Class: Valproic Acid

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.