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DEPAKOTE 250MG TABLETS

Active substance(s): VALPROATE SEMISODIUM

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PACKAGE LEAFLET: INFORMATION FOR THE USER

Depakote® 250mg and 500mg Tablets
valproic acid (as valproate semisodium)

Is this leaflet hard to see or read? Phone 0845 372 7101 for help.

▼This medicine is subject to additional monitoring. This will allow quick identification of

new safety information. You can help by reporting any side effects you may get. See the end
of section 4 for how to report side effects.
WARNING
Valproate can cause birth defects and problems with early development of the child if it is taken
during pregnancy. If you are a female of childbearing age you should use an effective method of
contraception throughout your treatment.
Your doctor will discuss this with you but you should also follow the advice in section 2 of this
leaflet. Tell your doctor at once if you become pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
Read all of this leaflet carefully before you start taking this medicine because it contains important
information for you.
• Keep this leaflet. You may need to read it again.
• If you have any further questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
• This medicine has been prescribed for you. Do not pass it on to others. It may harm them, even
if their symptoms are the same as yours.
• If you get any side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. This includes any possible side
effects not listed in this leaflet. See section 4.
What is in this leaflet
1. What Depakote is and what it is used for
2. What you need to know before you take Depakote
3. How to take Depakote
4. Possible side effects
5. How to store Depakote
6. Contents of the pack and other information

1.

What Depakote is and what it is used for

The name of your medicine is Depakote 250mg or 500mg Tablets (called Depakote in this leaflet).
Depakote contains a medicine called valproate semisodium. This belongs to a group of medicines
called mood stabilisers. It works by stabilising the levels of chemicals in your brain that affect your
mood.
Depakote can be used to manage or control mania (feeling highly excited, enthusiastic, being overactive and easily irritated or distracted) caused by bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is where the
mood changes between feeling very high (mania) and very low (depression).
Depakote can be used when lithium cannot be used.

2.

What you need to know before you take Depakote

Do not take Depakote and tell your doctor if:
X You are allergic (hypersensitive) to valproate semisodium or any of the other ingredients of
Depakote (see Section 6: Contents of the pack and other information).
Signs of an allergic reaction include: a rash, swallowing or breathing problems, swelling of your
lips, face, throat or tongue.
X You have liver problems.
X You or a family member has ever had liver problems caused by taking a medicine.
X You have a rare illness called porphyria which affects your metabolism.
X You have a known metabolic disorder, i.e. a urea cycle disorder.
X You have a genetic problem caused by a mitochondrial disorder (e.g. Alpers-Huttenlocher
syndrome).
Do not take this medicine if any of the above apply to you. If you are not sure, talk to your doctor or
pharmacist before taking Depakote.
Warnings and precautions
A small number of people being treated with mood stabilisers such as valproate semisodium have
had thoughts of harming or killing themselves. If at any time you have these thoughts, immediately
contact your doctor.
As with other anti-epileptic drugs, convulsions may become worse or happen more frequently whilst
taking this medicine. If this happens contact your doctor immediately.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking Depakote if:
• You are changing from another medicine that contains valproate.
• The person taking this medicine is less than 18 years old.
• You have fits (epilepsy), brain disease or a metabolic condition affecting your brain.
• You have kidney problems.
• You have problems with your pancreas.
• You have an illness called ‘systemic lupus erythematosus’. This is a disease of the immune
system which affects the skin, bones, joints and internal organs.
• You have a metabolic condition which results in too much ammonia in the blood (shown in
blood tests).
• You have diabetes or are being tested for diabetes. This medicine may affect the results of urine
tests.
• You have a carnitine palmitoyltransferase type II deficiency.
• You know that there is a genetic problem caused by a mitochondrial disorder in your family.
If you are not sure if any of the above apply to you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking
Depakote.
Weight gain
Taking Depakote may make you put on weight. Talk to your doctor about how this will affect you.
Other medicines and Depakote
Please tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking or have recently taken any other medicines.
This includes medicines you buy without a prescription, including herbal medicines. This is because
Depakote can affect the way some other medicines work. Also, some medicines can affect the way
Depakote works.

In particular, do not take and check with your doctor if you are taking any of the following:
• Some medicines used for pain and inflammation called ‘salicylates’ such as aspirin.
The following medicines can affect the way Depakote works or Depakote can affect the way some
of these medicines work:
• Some medicines used to treat fits (epilepsy) such as phenobarbital, primidone, phenytoin,
carbamazepine, rufinamide, topiramate, acetazolamide, lamotrigine and felbamate. Your
doctor may change the dose of one of your medicines and monitor your treatment closely.
• Medicines for depression.
• Medicines used to calm emotional and mental health problems (including schizophrenia,
bipolar disorder, depression) such as quetiapine, diazepam and olanzapine.
• Zidovudine and protease inhibitors such as lopinavir and ritonavir – used for HIV infection.
• Carbapenem agents (antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections) such as panipenem,
imipenem, meropenem, rifampicin and erythromycin. The combination of Depakote and
carbapenems should be avoided because it may decrease the effect of your medicine.
• Some medicines used for malaria such as mefloquine or chloroquine.
• Medicines used for thinning the blood such as warfarin. Your doctor may change your dose of
the blood thinning medicine and monitor your treatment closely.
• Temozolomide – used for cancer.
• Cimetidine – used for stomach ulcers.
• Cholestyramine – used for lowering blood cholesterol levels.
• Nimodipine.
• Propofol – used for anaesthesia.
Taking Depakote with food and drink
Alcohol intake is not recommended during treatment.
Pregnancy, breast-feeding and fertility
Important advice for women
• Valproate can be harmful to unborn children when taken by a woman during pregnancy.
• Valproate carries a risk if taken during pregnancy. The higher the dose, the higher the risks but
all doses carry a risk.
• It can cause serious birth defects and can affect the way in which the child develops as it grows.
Birth defects which have been reported include spina bifida (where the bones of the spine are
not properly developed); facial and skull malformations; heart, kidney, urinary tract and sexual
organ malformations; limb defects.
• If you take valproate during pregnancy you have a higher risk than other women of having a
child with birth defects that require medical treatment. Because valproate has been used for
many years we know that in women who take valproate around 10 babies in every 100 will have
birth defects. This compares to 2-3 babies in every 100 born to women who don’t have
epilepsy.
• It is estimated that up to 30-40% of preschool children whose mothers took valproate during
pregnancy may have problems with early childhood development. Children affected can be
slow to walk and talk, intellectually less able than other children, and have difficulty with
language and memory.
• Autistic spectrum disorders are more often diagnosed in children exposed to valproate and
there is some evidence children may be more likely to develop symptoms of Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
• If you are a woman capable of becoming pregnant your doctor should only prescribe valproate
for you if nothing else works for you.





Before prescribing this medicine to you, your doctor will have explained what might happen to
your baby if you become pregnant whilst taking valproate. If you decide later you want to have
a child you should not stop taking your medicine until you have discussed this with your doctor
and agreed a plan for switching you onto another product if this is possible.
Ask your doctor about taking folic acid when trying for a baby. Folic acid can lower the general
risk of spina bifida and early miscarriage that exists with all pregnancies. However, it is unlikely
that it will reduce the risk of birth defects associated with valproate use.

FIRST PRESCRIPTION
If this is the first time you have been prescribed valproate your doctor will have explained the risks
to an unborn child if you become pregnant. Once you are of childbearing age, you will need to make
sure you use an effective method of contraception throughout your treatment. Talk to your doctor
or family planning clinic if you need advice on contraception.
Key messages:
• Make sure you are using an effective method of contraception.
• Tell your doctor at once if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
CONTINUING TREATMENT AND NOT TRYING FOR A BABY
If you are continuing treatment with valproate but you don’t plan to have a baby make sure you are
using an effective method of contraception. Talk to your doctor or family planning clinic if you need
advice on contraception.
Key messages:
• Make sure you are using an effective method of contraception.
• Tell your doctor at once if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
CONTINUING TREATMENT AND CONSIDERING TRYING FOR A BABY
If you are continuing treatment with valproate and you are now thinking of trying for a baby you
must not stop taking either your valproate or your contraceptive medicine until you have discussed
this with your prescriber. You should talk to your doctor well before you become pregnant so that
you can put several actions in place so that your pregnancy goes as smoothly as possible and any
risks to you and your unborn child are reduced as much as possible.
Your doctor may decide to change the dose of valproate or switch you to another medicine before
you start trying for a baby.
If you do become pregnant you will be monitored very closely both for the management of your
underlying condition and to check how your unborn child is developing.
Ask your doctor about taking folic acid when trying for a baby. Folic acid can lower the general risk of
spina bifida and early miscarriage that exists with all pregnancies. However, it is unlikely that it will
reduce the risk of birth defects associated with valproate use.
Key messages:
• Do not stop using your contraception before you have talked to your doctor and worked
together on a plan to ensure your bipolar is controlled and the risks to your baby are reduced.
• Tell your doctor at once when you know or think you might be pregnant.
UNPLANNED PREGNANCY WHILST CONTINUING TREATMENT
Babies born to mothers who have been on valproate are at serious risk of birth defects and
problems with development which can be seriously debilitating. If you are taking valproate and you
think you are pregnant or might be pregnant contact your doctor at once. Do not stop taking your
medicine until your doctor tells you to.

Ask your doctor about taking folic acid. Folic acid can lower the general risk of spina bifida and early
miscarriage that exists with all pregnancies. However, it is unlikely that it will reduce the risk of birth
defects associated with valproate use.
Key messages:
• Tell your doctor at once if you know you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
• Do not stop taking valproate unless your doctor tells you to.
Make sure you read the patient booklet and sign the Acknowledgement of Risk form which should
be given to you and discussed with you by your doctor or pharmacist.
Breast-feeding
If you are breast-feeding or planning to breast-feed, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking
any medicine.
Driving and using machines
You may feel sleepy, confused or dizzy while taking this medicine. If this happens, do not drive or use
any tools or machines.
Important information about some of the ingredients of Depakote
Your medicine contains colours called ‘sunset yellow aluminium lake (E110)’ and ‘ponceau 4R
aluminium lake (E124)’. They may cause allergic reactions including asthma in some people. You are
more likely to have an allergy if you are also allergic to aspirin.

3.

How to take Depakote

Always take Depakote exactly as your doctor has told you. Your doctor will decide your daily dose.
You should check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure.
Depakote treatment must be started and supervised by a doctor specialised in the treatment of
bipolar disorders.
How to take your medicine
• Take this medicine by mouth.
• Swallow the tablets whole with a drink of water. Do not crush or chew them.
• This medicine can be taken with or after a meal.
• If you feel the effect of your medicine is too weak or too strong, do not change the dose
yourself, but ask your doctor.
How much to take
The normal dose is:
Adults including the elderly
• Starting dose is 750mg on the first day. This is usually taken as 2 or 3 divided doses.
• The usual dose is then increased to between 1000mg and 2000mg each day.
• Your doctor may decide to increase your dose depending on your illness.
If you have kidney problems
• Your doctor may decide to lower your dose.
Children and adolescents
Children and adolescents under 18 years of age:

Depakote should not be used in children and adolescents under 18 years of age for the
treatment of mania.
Tests
Your doctor may do regular blood tests and liver function tests before and during your treatment
with this medicine.
If you take more Depakote than you should
If you or someone else has taken more Depakote than you should, talk to a doctor or go to your
nearest hospital casualty department straight away. Remember to take the medicine pack with you.
This is so the doctor knows what you have taken.
The following effects may happen: being sick, headache, blurred eyesight due to pupils of the eyes
becoming smaller, lack of reflexes, confusion and tiredness. You may also have weak or ‘floppy’
muscles, fits (seizures), loss of consciousness, behavioural changes and breathing difficulties such as
fast breathing, shortness of breath or chest pain.
If you forget to take Depakote
If you forget to take a dose at the right time, take it as soon as you remember. Do not take a double
dose to make up for a forgotten dose.
If you stop taking Depakote
Keep taking your medicine until your doctor tells you to stop. Do not stop taking Depakote just
because you feel better. If you stop, your illness may return.
When your doctor says that you can stop taking Depakote, your dose will be lowered gradually. Your
doctor will help you to do this.
If you have any further questions on the use of this product, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

4.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, Depakote can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them. Side effects
are more likely to happen at the start of treatment.
Allergic reactions
If you have an allergic reaction, stop taking Depakote and see a doctor or go to a hospital straight
away. The signs may include: rash, joint pain, fever (systemic lupus erythematosus), swallowing or
breathing problems, swelling of your lips, face, throat or tongue. Hands, feet or genitals may also be
affected. More severe allergic reactions can lead to lymph node enlargement and possible
impairment of other organs.
Stop taking Depakote and see your doctor or go to a hospital straight away if you notice a
combination of any of the following serious side effects:
The following side effects may be signs of problems with your liver or pancreas and may show
as a sudden illness:
• Feeling weak, general feeling of being unwell
• Loss of or decreased appetite (anorexia)
• Feeling drowsy, confused or tired
• Swelling of the feet and legs (oedema)
• Nausea (feeling sick)






Vomiting (being sick)
Stomach pain. Sometimes may be severe and reach through to your back
Recurrence of fits (seizures) for patients with epilepsy
Yellowing of the eyes or skin

The following side effects may be signs of problems with your blood cells:
• Bruising more easily, spontaneous bruising or bleeding
• Frequent infections such as fever, severe chills, sore throat or mouth ulcers
• Getting more infections than usual
• Feeling weak, tired, faint, dizzy or having an unusually pale skin
These could be caused by a blood disorder called ‘thrombocytopenia’. It can be due to a fall in
the number of white blood cells, bone marrow depression or another condition that affects red
blood cells, white blood cells and platelets (pancytopenia) or how the blood clots.
Other serious side effects which need urgent medical attention:
• Fits (seizures), loss or reduction of consciousness, seeing or hearing things that are not
there (hallucinations)
• Memory problems, reduced ability to perform mental tasks, being unable to concentrate
• Difficulty in speaking or slurred speech
• Muscle weakness, lack of co-ordination, muscle twitching or sudden jerks and shaking
• Difficulty in walking or unusual involuntary movements, such as unusual eye movements
• Blistering, peeling, bleeding, scaling or fluid filled patches on any part of your skin. This
includes your lips, eyes, mouth, nose, genitals, hands or feet. You may also have flu-like
symptoms and fever, joint aches and pains, swollen joints, headaches, chest pain and
shortness of breath
• Underactive thyroid gland, which may cause tiredness or weight gain (hypothyroidism)
• Breathing difficulty and pain due to inflammation of the lungs (pleural effusion)
• Rapid, uncontrollable movement of the eyes
• An increase in the number and severity of convulsions
Tell your doctor as soon as possible if you have any of the following side effects:
• Unusual behaviour including being very alert, and sometimes also aggressive, hyperactive and
showing bad behaviour
• Water retention which may cause swollen arms or legs
• Bleeding a lot from a wound
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side effects get serious or lasts longer than a
few days:
• Swelling of gums or sore mouth
• Nail and nail bed disorders
• Increased levels of some hormones (androgens), which may lead to increased hair growth on
the face, breasts or chest, acne or thinning hair.
• Temporary hair loss
• Hair disorders (changes in texture, colour or growth)
• Acne
• Diarrhoea
• Night sweats or joint pain
• Irregular periods or a lack/absence of menstrual periods
• Breast enlargement in men
• Loss of hearing














Kidney disease
Bed wetting
Blood in the urine
Weight gain
Headache
Seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations)
Aggression, agitation, disturbance in attention, abnormal behaviour, restlessness/hyperactivity,
and learning disorder
Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
Lowering of normal body temperature
Abnormal blood clotting factors
Muscle pain and weakness (rhabdomyolysis)
Obesity

Bone disorders
There have been reports of bone disorders including osteopenia and osteoporosis (thinning of the
bone) and fractures. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are on long-term anti-epileptic
medication, have a history of osteoporosis, or take steroids.
Tests
Blood and urine tests may show changes in the way the kidney is working. This includes an increase
in the amounts of sugar, amino acids, uric acid and phosphates. Blood tests may show changes in the
amount of blood cells or levels of liver enzymes.
Male fertility
Taking Depakote can be a contributing factor in male infertility.
Reporting of side effects
If you get any side effects, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse. This includes any possible side
effects not listed in this leaflet. You can also report side effects directly via the Yellow Card Scheme
at: www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard or search for MHRA Yellow Card in the Google Play or Apple App
Store.
By reporting side effects you can help provide more information on the safety of this medicine.

5.

How to store Depakote

Keep this medicine in a safe place where children cannot see or reach it.
Do not use Depakote after the expiry date which is stated on the label after EXP. The expiry date
refers to the last day of that month.
Medicines should not be disposed of via wastewater or household waste. Ask your pharmacist how
to dispose of medicines no longer required. These measures will help to protect the environment.

6.

Contents of the pack and other information

What Depakote 250mg Tablets contain
• Each 250mg tablet contains 269.1mg of the active substance, valproate semisodium (equivalent
to 250mg of valproic acid).
• The other ingredients are: silicone dioxide, pregelatinised starch, povidone, titanium dioxide
(E171), hypromellose, polyethylene glycol 6000, Methacrylic acid-ethyl acrylate copolymer
(1:1), triethyl citrate, vanillin, sunset yellow aluminium lake (E110).

What Depakote 500mg Tablets contain
• Each 500mg tablet contains 538.2mg of the active substance, valproate semisodium (equivalent
to 500mg of valproic acid).
• The other ingredients are: silicone dioxide, pregelatinised starch, povidone, titanium dioxide
(E171), hypromellose, polyethylene glycol 6000, Methacrylic acid-ethyl acrylate copolymer
(1:1), triethyl citrate, vanillin, ponceau 4R aluminium lake (E124), indigotine aluminium lake
(E132).
What Depakote Tablets look like and contents of the pack
Depakote 250mg Tablets are oval orange gastro-resistant tablets supplied in Aluminium/aluminium
blister packs containing 30, 60 or 90 tablets.
Depakote 500mg Tablets are oval lilac pink gastro-resistant tablets supplied in
Aluminium/aluminium blister packs containing 30, 60 or 90 tablets.
Not all pack sizes may be marketed.
Marketing Authorisation Holder and Manufacturer
Marketing Authorisation Holder
Sanofi, One Onslow Street, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 4YS UK
Tel: 0845 372 7101
Fax: 01483 535432
email: uk-medicalinformation@sanofi.com
Manufacturer
Sanofi-aventis SA, Carretera C-35 (La Batlloria-Hostalric), Km 65.09
17404 Riells i Viabrea (Girona), Spain
This leaflet does not contain all the information about your medicine. If you have any questions or
are not sure about anything, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
This leaflet was last revised in March 2018
© Sanofi, 2000-2018

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