Valproate semisodium

Valproate semisodium

Main article: Valproic acid

Valproate semisodium (INN) or divalproex sodium (USAN) consists of a compound of sodium valproate and valproic acid in a 1:1 molar relationship in an enteric coated form. It is used in the United Kingdom, Canada, and United States for the treatment of the manic episodes of bipolar disorder. In rare cases, it is also used as a treatment for major depressive disorder, and increasingly taken long-term for prevention of both manic and depressive phases of bipolar disorder, especially the rapid-cycling variant. It is also used in the US for the treatment of epilepsy, certain side effects of autism, chronic pain associated with neuropathy, and migraine headaches. Its chemical name is sodium hydrogen bis(2-propylpentanoate). The extended release formulation allows for a single daily dose.

In the UK semisodium valproate has been sold for a few years as the proprietary drug Depakote and marketed for psychiatric conditions only. It is about five times the price of sodium valproate, which has been marketed for around 30 years as Epilim by the same company for epilepsy and is also available from other manufacturers as a generic product.

Side effects

The most severe side effect is a ten times higher-than-average incidence rate of serious, irreversible birth defects (teratogenic) such as births of brainless babies (anencephaly). Risk of birth defects such as spina bifida has been demonstrated among populations of female patients who took the medicine in childbearing age.

Otherwise, people who take this drug can experience a variety of side effects, some of which may require immediate medical attention.

Mild side effects include:

  • dizziness
  • decreased coordination
  • misbalance

Especially dangerous side effects include:

  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • fever
  • dark urine
  • jaundice

The above side effects suggest a possibility of liver damage. People taking this drug should also call their doctor if they experience other serious side effects. Some serious side effects include:

  • unusual bleeding (especially in the urine)
  • hallucinations
  • drowsiness

Some people also experience:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • body hair growth

1% to 10% of people report:

  • weight gain
  • increased appetite
  • abnormal dreams[1]

Branded formulations

Additional brand names for this medication include Depacon, Depakene and Zalkote[2] In the United States, generic versions of Depakote became available on July 29, 2008.[3]



External links

  • Depakote (Divalproex sodium)
  • British National Formulary Edition 50
  • Advanced Consumer Info: Valproic Acid
  • Depakote (Official) - Abbott Laboratories
  • Drug Information Online
  • Mayo Clinic drug information