home >> fact sheets >> Carbamazepine



This information is not a replacement of full discussions of risks and benefits with your doctor.

Other names: Tegretol

Principal Uses: Carbamazepine is a mood stabiliser and an anticonvulsant. It is used to treat Bipolar Affective Disorder, epilepsy and a number of other neurological conditions (eg, neuralgia).

Cost: Fully subsidised (ie cost of a script only)

Dose: Gradually increase the dose, starting at 100-200mg once or twice daily increasing to 400mg 2-3 times daily. Blood tests can measure if the level is where it should be.

Some Possible Side Effects: Side effects are often dose related and the dose should therefore be increased slowly. Side effects may include fatigue, dizziness and nausea, lowering of the blood platelet count (improves on stopping medication). It can also cause a skin rash which can sometimes be quite extensive. If this occurs the medication should be stopped.

Use in Pregnancy: Category D
The overall rate for major malformations associated with carbamazepine is around 2-6% and is probably slightly higher than the baseline rate in the population (2-3%). Some neonatal complications have been reported.

Category D is where there is a positive evidence of human foetal risk, but the benefits from use in pregnant women may be acceptable despite the risk (e.g., if the drug is needed in a life-threatening situation or for a serious disease for which safer drugs cannot be used or are ineffective).

Use in Breastfeeding: Category L2
Carbamazepine is currently accepted as being generally compatible with breastfeeding. Concentrations of carbamazepine in breast milk are detectable but low and considered well within the acceptable limit.

Category L2 applies to a drug which has been studied in a limited number of breast feeding women without an increase in adverse effects in the infant. And/or, the evidence of a demonstrated risk which is likely to follow use of this medication in a breast feeding woman is remote.

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