Banzel is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s FDA-approved to treat seizures related to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). Banzel is approved for this use in combination with other seizure medications. It can be prescribed for adults and children ages 1 year and older.

LGS is a form of epilepsy (seizure disorder that causes recurring seizures). People with LGS typically develop the condition when they’re young. In addition to having seizures, most people with LGS have problems with learning and other disabilities.

Banzel contains the active drug rufinamide. It belongs to a class of medications called antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). A class of medications describes a group of drugs that work in same way.

Banzel comes as 200-milligram (mg) and 400-mg tablets. It’s also available in a 40 mg per milliliter (mg/mL) liquid suspension. Both forms of Banzel are taken by mouth with food.

Effectiveness

In clinical trials, Banzel was effective in decreasing seizures in people with LGS. For example, in a 28-day trial involving both adults and children ages 4 years and older:

  • 50% of people taking Banzel had at least 32.7% fewer seizures than they had before treatment
  • 50% of people taking a placebo (treatment with no active drug) had at least 11.7% fewer seizures than they had before treatment

Banzel contains the active drug ingredient rufinamide. It’s not currently available in a generic form. (A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication.)

Banzel can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Banzel. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.

For more information on the possible side effects of Banzel, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to deal with any side effects that may be bothersome.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs it has approved. If you would like to report to the FDA a side effect you’ve had with Banzel, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild side effects

Mild side effects of Banzel can include:*

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • fatigue (lack of energy)
  • feeling drowsy
  • nausea

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* This is a partial list of mild side effects from Banzel. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or visit Banzel’s medication guide.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Banzel aren’t common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

  • Depression or other changes in your mood. Symptoms can include:
    • feeling sad or hopeless
    • having no interest in things that you usually enjoy
    • feeling anxious
  • Status epilepticus (seizures lasting at least 5 minutes). Symptoms can include:
    • muscle spasms
    • feeling confused
    • falling to the ground
  • Leukopenia (decreased white blood cell level). Symptoms can include:
    • fever or chills
    • infections that won’t go away

Other serious side effects, explained in more detail below in “Side effect details,” include:

Side effects in children

In clinical trials, side effects seen in children were similar to those seen in adults. In children ages 3 to 17 years old, the most common side effects were:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • fatigue (lack of energy)
  • feeling drowsy
  • nausea

Side effect details

You may wonder how often certain side effects occur with this drug. Here’s some detail on several of the side effects this drug may cause.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Banzel. But it’s not known how many people have had an allergic reaction to this drug.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (warmth and redness in your skin)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
  • trouble breathing

Call your doctor right away if you have a severe allergic reaction to Banzel. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

DRESS reaction

A serious allergic reaction called drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS) has occurred in people taking Banzel. With DRESS, you may develop a severe rash, fever, and swelling. DRESS is a very serious condition that can be life threatening.

In clinical trials, DRESS only occurred in children younger than 12 years old who were taking Banzel. But since the drug was approved for use, DRESS has also occurred in adults taking Banzel. It’s not known for sure how many people had DRESS during clinical trials.

Usually, DRESS reactions happen within 4 weeks of starting Banzel. And the reaction typically goes away when you stop taking the drug. Call your doctor right away if you have a severe allergic reaction to Banzel. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Aggression

It’s possible to feel aggressive while you’re taking Banzel. Aggression is a harmful behavior that can cause you to be violent to yourself or others.

During clinical trials, this side effect was reported in children taking Banzel. For example, aggression occurred in 3% of children ages 3 to 16 years old who were taking Banzel. In comparison, aggression occurred in 2% of children taking a placebo (treatment with no active drug). Aggression wasn’t reported in any adults taking Banzel.

If you or your child has aggression while using Banzel, talk with your doctor. They may be able to recommend ways to decrease this side effect.

Headache

Headaches are a common side effect of Banzel. In clinical trials, 27% of adults who took Banzel had headaches. However, 26% of adults taking a placebo (treatment with no active drug) also had headaches.

In adults taking Banzel, 2% stopped treatment with the drug because of headaches. And about 1% of adults taking the placebo stopped the trial due to headaches.

Headaches also occurred in children taking Banzel in clinical trials. In fact, about 16% of children taking Banzel had headaches. In comparison, 8% of children taking a placebo had headaches. Headaches weren’t one of the most common reasons why children stopped taking Banzel during the trials.

If you have headaches that are severe or bothersome while you’re taking Banzel, talk with your doctor. They may recommend ways to decrease your discomfort. Or they may recommend a medication other than Banzel to treat your seizure disorder.

Dizziness

You may feel dizzy while you’re taking Banzel. In fact, dizziness was a common side effect of the drug during clinical trials.

For example, dizziness was reported in 19% of adults taking Banzel. But only 12% of adults taking a placebo (treatment with no active drug) had dizziness. In 3% of adults taking Banzel, dizziness caused them to stop taking the drug. However, just 1% of people taking the placebo stopped treatment because of dizziness.

Dizziness was also a common side effect in children taking Banzel. For example, 8% of children taking Banzel felt dizzy. In comparison, 6% of children taking a placebo had dizziness. However, in children, dizziness was not a common reason to stop taking Banzel.

If you feel dizzy while you’re taking Banzel, talk with your doctor. They may be able to recommend ways to help reduce this side effect.

Fatigue

It’s possible to have fatigue (lack of energy) while you’re taking Banzel. In clinical trials, 16% of adults taking Banzel had fatigue. In adults taking a placebo (treatment with no active drug), 10% had fatigue.

About 2% of adults taking Banzel stopped taking the drug because of fatigue. In comparison, 1% of adults taking a placebo also stopped the trial because of fatigue.

Fatigue also occurred in 9% of children taking Banzel. In comparison, 8% of children taking a placebo had fatigue. About 2% of children taking Banzel stopped taking the drug because of fatigue. However, no children taking a placebo stopped the trial due to fatigue.

If you’re feeling tired or fatigued while you’re taking Banzel, talk with your doctor. They’ll be able to recommend ways to help improve your energy level.

Convulsions

Convulsions, which are a type of seizure, are a rare side effect of Banzel. With convulsions, you have involuntary or sudden movements of your body. You may also have muscle spasms or muscle stiffness. And if you’re having convulsions, you may not know where you are or what’s going on around you.

In clinical trials, convulsions were seen in less than 3% of children taking Banzel. It’s not known how often convulsions occurred in children taking a placebo (treatment with no active drug).

Because of convulsions, 2% of children taking Banzel in the trials stopped using the drug. In comparison, 1% of children taking the placebo stopped the trial because of convulsions.

Convulsions weren’t a common side effect reported in adults taking Banzel during trials.

If you or your child is having convulsions, talk with your doctor as soon as possible. They may be able to help you determine if the convulsions are caused by Banzel. Your doctor may also recommend ways to help reduce this side effect. Or in some cases, they may recommend a medication other than Banzel to treat your seizure disorder.

Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Banzel may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors. It’s important to note that anyone taking an antiepileptic drug (AED) may have this side effect. (Banzel belongs to a class of drugs called AEDs. A drug class describes medications that work in the same way.)

Tell your doctor right away if you have the following symptoms, and whether they are new or worsening:

  • thoughts of suicide
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • other changes in your mood

It’s not known how many children or adults taking Banzel had suicidal thoughts or behaviors during clinical trials. However, in clinical trials of people taking other AEDs, about 0.43% of people had suicidal thoughts or behaviors. In comparison, about 0.24% of people taking a placebo (treatment with no active drug) had this side effect.

Although these percentages appear to be small, trials have shown that people taking AEDs have double the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors than do people taking placebos. It’s believed that people of any age taking any AED have about the same risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

If you have new or worsening depression or thoughts of suicide while taking Banzel, talk with your doctor right away. They may recommend that you switch to a medication other than Banzel to treat your seizure disorder. And your doctor may recommend other ways to help decrease your suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Banzel to treat certain conditions. Banzel may also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label use is when a drug that’s approved to treat one condition is used to treat a different condition.

Banzel for seizures

Banzel is approved to treat seizures related to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). For this use, Banzel should be taken in combination with other seizure medications. Banzel is approved for use in adults and children ages 1 year and older.

What is LGS?

LGS is a form of epilepsy (a seizure disorder that causes recurring seizures). People with LGS typically develop the condition when they’re young, between 3 and 5 years old.

LGS causes people to have different types of seizures. The most common type of seizure in people with LGS is called a tonic seizure. With this type of seizure, your muscles may spasm and contract involuntarily. However, LGS can cause other types of seizures as well.

It’s not known exactly what causes LGS. However, in some people the condition is believed to have a genetic cause. Other people with LGS may have certain brain injuries or other abnormalities that caused the condition.

Seizures related to LGS are hard to treat with typical antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). (AEDs are drugs used to seizure disorders.) Often, people with LGS need to use multiple seizure medications to decrease the number of seizures that they have.

In addition to having seizures, most people with LGS also have problems with learning or other disabilities. And these problems may get worse over time, especially if seizures occur often.

Effectiveness for seizures

In clinical trials, Banzel was effective in decreasing seizures in people with LGS. People included in the trials had to meet both of the following criteria:

  • already taking one to three other AEDs, and
  • had at least 90 seizures in the month before the trial started

In one trial involving both adults and children ages 4 years and older, after a 28-day period:

  • 50% of people taking Banzel had at least 32.7% fewer seizures than they had before treatment.
  • 50% of people taking a placebo (treatment with no active drug) had at least 11.7% fewer seizures than they had before treatment.

Clinical trials also showed that the number of tonic-atonic seizures was reduced in people taking Banzel. (With tonic-atonic seizures, your muscles become stiff and you can fall. These seizures may happen very quickly and without warning.)

In this trial, over 28 days of treatment:

  • 50% of people taking Banzel had at least 42.5% fewer tonic-atonic seizures than they had prior to treatment.
  • 50% of people taking a placebo had at least 1.4% more tonic-atonic seizures than they had prior to treatment.

Off-label use for Banzel

In addition to the use listed above, Banzel may be used off-label for other purposes. Off-label drug use is when a drug that’s approved for one or more uses is prescribed for a different one that’s not approved. Below is an example of off-label use for Banzel.

Banzel for partial seizures

Banzel isn’t approved to treat seizures that aren’t associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). But sometimes it’s used off-label to treat partial seizures that aren’t related to LGS. (For information about LGS, see the section “Banzel for seizures” above.)

Partial seizures may also be called focal seizures, and they occur only in one area of your brain. With partial seizures, your muscles may contract, and you may have hallucinations, sweating, or nausea. These seizures may also cause you to stare or make your eyes repeatedly move from side to side.

Currently, Banzel isn’t approved to treat partial seizures in people who don’t have LGS. However, one study showed that Banzel may be effective in treating partial seizures.

If you have questions about using Banzel to treat partial seizures that aren’t related to LGS, talk with your doctor. They can recommend appropriate treatment options for your condition.

Banzel and children

Banzel is approved for use in children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) who are ages 1 year and older. For more information about LGS, see the section “Banzel for seizures” above.

A clinical study looked at Banzel treatment in children ages 1 through 4 years with LGS. The study showed that age didn’t affect how the drug worked. Because of this, Banzel was approved for use in children ages 1 year and older.

For information about Banzel’s effectiveness in both children and adults with LGS, see the section “Banzel for seizures” above.

Banzel is approved as an adjunctive treatment for seizures related to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). For more information about LGS, see the section “Banzel uses” above.

An adjunctive treatment is approved for use with other drugs for a condition. As an adjunctive treatment, Banzel is approved for use in combination with other antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). AEDs are a class of drugs that are used to treat seizure disorders. (A drug class describes a group of medications that work in a similar way.)

Very often, people with LGS need to use more than one medication to treat their seizures. If you have LGS, your doctor may add Banzel to other AEDs you’re currently taking. Or your doctor may prescribe other AEDs for you to take along with Banzel.

Whenever you first start taking an AED, your doctor will monitor you often to see if you’re having fewer seizures with treatment. Based on how well the AED is working for you, your doctor may recommend other drugs for your treatment.

But keep in mind that Banzel is specifically approved for use in combination with another AED. It’s not meant to be used alone.

The Banzel dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:

  • your age
  • the form of Banzel you’re taking
  • other medical conditions you may have

Typically, your doctor will start you on a low dosage. Then they’ll adjust it over time to reach the amount that’s right for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.

The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

Drug forms and strengths

Banzel comes in the following forms and strengths, which are each taken by mouth:

  • 200-milligram (mg) and 400-mg tablets
  • 40 milligram per liter (mg/mL) liquid suspension

Dosage for seizures

Usually, for adults taking Banzel, the starting dosage for seizures is 400 mg to 800 mg each day. But this total dose is divided into two daily doses. For example, if your total daily dose is 400 mg, you’ll likely start out taking 200 mg twice daily.

Your doctor will then increase your daily Banzel dose by 400 mg to 800 mg every other day, until you reach a daily dose of 3,200 mg. For this total daily dose, you’ll take 1,600 mg of Banzel twice each day.

Banzel dosages of less than 3,200 mg daily haven’t been studied in adults. Because of this, it’s not known if the drug is effective at dosages less than 3,200 mg each day.

If you have certain medical conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, your doctor may have you start taking Banzel at a lower dose than usual. Your doctor may also recommend a lower starting dosage of Banzel if you’re also taking valproate. (Valproate is another drug that’s used to treat seizures.)

Talk with your doctor about the dosage of Banzel that’s best for you.

Pediatric dosage

The starting daily dose of Banzel for children with seizures is 10 mg of Banzel per kilogram* of body weight (mg/kg). However, this total daily dose is divided into two doses each day.

For example, if your child weighs 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds), their total daily dose of Banzel will be 200 mg. With this total daily dose, your child will take 100 mg of Banzel twice each day.

Your child’s doctor will then increase their Banzel dose by 10 mg/kg every other day, until your child reaches a maximum of 45 mg/kg of Banzel daily. Your child should never take more than 3,200 mg of Banzel each day.

If your child has other medical conditions, such as liver or kidney problems, their doctor may start them at a lower dose of Banzel than usual. Your child’s doctor may also recommend a lower starting dosage of Banzel if your child is also taking valproate. (Valproate is another drug that’s used to treat seizures.)

Talk with your child’s doctor about a starting dosage of Banzel that’s best for your child.

* One kilogram (kg) is equal to about 2.2 pounds (lb).

What if I miss a dose?

If you’ve missed a dose of Banzel, call your doctor or pharmacist. They may recommend that you take a dose right away. Or they may recommend that you just skip the missed dose and take your next dose like usual. Never take two doses of Banzel at once to try to make up for a missed dose.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try setting a reminder on your phone. A medication timer may be useful, too.

Will I need to use this drug long term?

Banzel is meant to be used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Banzel is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term.

Banzel is an antiepileptic drug (AED) that’s used to treat seizures related to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). For more information about LGS, see the section “Banzel uses” above.

You won’t have withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking Banzel. Withdrawal symptoms occur when your body has become dependent on a drug. (With dependence, your body needs the drug in order for you to feel normal.) But Banzel doesn’t cause dependence.

However, stopping any AED may cause your seizures to become worse. Because of this, if you’re stopping Banzel, it’s important to slowly decrease your dose as directed by your doctor. Doing this helps your body to get adjusted to not having the medication any longer.

If you stop taking Banzel suddenly, you have an increased risk of seizures and status epilepticus (SE). SE causes seizures lasting at least 5 minutes and is considered a medical emergency. Because of the risk of SE and other seizures, you shouldn’t stop taking Banzel without first talking with your doctor about how to safely do so.

If you need to suddenly stop taking Banzel, your doctor may switch you to another AED. And they’ll likely monitor you for seizures. Never suddenly stop taking Banzel without first talking with your doctor.

You should avoid drinking alcohol while you’re taking Banzel. This is especially important when you first start using the medication. Banzel may cause you to feel sleepy, drowsy, or dizzy. If you’re also drinking alcohol, these side effects may be worse for you.

After you’ve been taking Banzel for a while, and you know how your body reacts to the drug, talk with your doctor. They can recommend whether it’s safe for you to drink alcohol while you’re taking Banzel. Your doctor may also be able to recommend an amount of alcohol that’s safe for you to drink.

Banzel can interact with several other medications. It’s not known to interact with supplements or foods.

Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some interactions can interfere with how well a drug works. Other interactions can increase side effects or make them more severe.

Banzel and other medications

Below, we describe medications that can interact with Banzel. This section doesn’t list all the drugs that may interact with Banzel.

Before taking Banzel, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Banzel and other antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)

Banzel is an antiepileptic drug (AED) that’s used to treat seizures related to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). For more information about LGS, see the section “Banzel uses” above.

AEDs are a class of drugs that are used to treat seizure disorders. (A drug class describes a group of medications that work in a similar way.)

Banzel is approved for use in combination with other AEDs. In some cases, Banzel may affect the level of other AEDs in your body. But in other cases, other AEDs may affect the level of Banzel in your body. We describe these possible interactions below.

The effect of Banzel on the level of other AEDs

If you’re taking Banzel with certain other AEDs, Banzel may change the level of the other AEDs in your body. This effect may be more likely in children than it is in adults.

For example, if you’re taking either of the following other AEDs with Banzel, the level of the other AED may be decreased in your body:

However, if you’re taking either of these other AEDs with Banzel, the level of the other AED may be increased in your body:

Because of these possible interactions, your doctor may monitor you more often than usual when you first start taking the drugs together. And your doctor may adjust the dosage of the other AED while you’re taking Banzel.

The effect of other AEDs on the level of Banzel

It’s also possible that some AEDs may affect the level of Banzel in your body. For example, taking any of the following AEDs with Banzel may decrease the level of Banzel in your body:

Because of this possible interaction, your doctor may adjust the dosage of your other AED while you’re taking Banzel.

On the other hand, taking the seizure drug valproate with Banzel may increase the level of Banzel in your body. If you take valproate with Banzel, your doctor will recommend a low dose of Banzel for you. They’ll do this so that your Banzel level doesn’t get too high. (If the level is high, you have an increased risk of side effects from the drug.)

Banzel and birth control medications

Taking Banzel with hormonal contraceptives may cause the contraceptives to be less effective in preventing pregnancy. (Hormonal contraceptives are birth control drugs made with hormones.)

Contraceptives that contain either ethinyl estradiol or norethindrone are especially affected by Banzel. Examples of these birth control methods include:

If you’re taking Banzel and want to use birth control, you should use a form that’s nonhormonal. Examples of nonhormonal birth control options include condoms, diaphragms, or copper IUDs.*

If you want to keep using a hormonal birth control method with Banzel, you’ll need to use a nonhormonal method along with it. This will help ensure that pregnancy is prevented.

Talk with your doctor about the best options for birth control while you’re taking Banzel.

* Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small devices that are placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

Banzel and herbs and supplements

There aren’t any herbs or supplements that have been specifically reported to interact with Banzel. However, you should still check with your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these products while taking Banzel.

Banzel and foods

There aren’t any foods that have been specifically reported to interact with Banzel. If you have any questions about eating certain foods with Banzel, talk with your doctor.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Banzel.

Is Banzel a controlled substance?

No, Banzel isn’t a controlled substance. However, some other medications used to prevent seizures are controlled substances. These medications include:

Controlled substances are drugs that are regulated by the government. The drugs are regulated because they may lead to misuse or addiction in some people.

If you have questions about using controlled substances to treat seizures, talk with your doctor.

Will Banzel cure my seizures?

No, Banzel won’t cure your seizures. However, this drug may decrease the number of seizures you have.

For example, in a clinical trial, over 28 days of treatment, half the people taking Banzel had at least 32.7% fewer seizures than they had before treatment.

Although Banzel won’t cure your seizures, it may help decrease the number of seizures you have. If you have questions about the benefits of using Banzel, talk with your doctor.

Can Banzel cause seizures?

Banzel shouldn’t cause you to have seizures related to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). However, Banzel can cause convulsions, which are a type of seizure.

In clinical trials, the following types of seizures were reported:

  • Convulsions. With convulsions, you may have involuntary movements or stiff muscles, or feel disoriented. In clinical trials, 2% of children stopped taking Banzel because of convulsions. In comparison, 1% of children stopped taking a placebo (treatment with no active drug) due to convulsions.
  • Status epilepticus. With status epilepticus (SE), you have seizures lasting at least 5 minutes. This condition is a considered to be a medical emergency. In a clinical trial, 4.1% of people taking Banzel had an episode of SE. In comparison, no one taking a placebo had SE.

But keep in mind that the children’s convulsions or SE may have been related to either their treatment or their seizure disorder itself. it’s important to note that all people with epilepsy are at risk for SE. This risk isn’t unique just to people taking Banzel.

It’s important to note that stopping Banzel may cause seizures to occur. This is because while you’re taking the drug, it’s working to help prevent seizures. But when the drug is taken away, you may have more seizures than you did with treatment. If you need to stop taking Banzel, your doctor will slowly decrease your dosage of the drug. This will help your body adjust so that you’re less likely to have seizures once you’ve stopped using Banzel.

If you’re concerned about Banzel causing seizures, talk with your doctor. They’ll discuss with you the risks and benefits of using this medication.

Can older people take Banzel?

Yes, in general, older people can take Banzel. However, depending on other medical conditions they may have, older people may need to take a dosage of Banzel that’s lower than the typical dosage.

In clinical trials, there weren’t enough older people included to know if Banzel acts differently in older people than it does in younger people. But it doesn’t appear that Banzel works any differently when it’s used by older people.

One small study looked at people ages 65 to 80 years old who were taking Banzel. These people were compared with people ages 18 to 45 years old. The study showed no differences between the way that older adults reacted to the drug compared with how younger people did.

If you have questions about using Banzel given your age, talk with your doctor. They can recommend if this drug is a good treatment option for you.

As with all medications, the cost of Banzel can vary.

The actual price you’ll pay depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Your insurance company may require you to get prior authorization it approves coverage for Banzel. This means that your doctor and insurance company will need to communicate about your prescription before the insurance company will cover the drug. The insurance company will review the prior authorization request and decide if the drug will be covered.

If you’re not sure if you’ll need to get prior authorization for Banzel, contact your insurance company.

Financial and insurance assistance

If you need financial support to pay for Banzel, or if you need help understanding your insurance coverage, help is available.

Eisai Inc., the manufacturer of Banzel, offers a savings card that may help lower the cost of the drug. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible for support, call 855-EISAI-4-U (855-347-2448) or visit the program website.

Generic version

Banzel isn’t available in a generic form. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. The generic is considered to be as safe and effective as the original drug. And generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

Other drugs are available that can treat seizures. Some may be a better fit for you than others. If you’re interested in finding an alternative to Banzel, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that may work well for you.

Note: Some of the drugs listed below are used off-label to treat this specific condition. Off-label use is when a drug that’s approved to treat one condition is used to treat a different condition.

Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat seizures include:

You may wonder how Banzel compares with other medications that are prescribed for similar uses. Here we look at how Banzel and Topamax are alike and different.

Ingredients

Banzel contains the active drug rufinamide, while Topamax contains the active drug topiramate. These drugs belong to a class of medications known as antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).

Uses

Banzel is approved to treat seizures related to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).* It’s approved for use in adults and children ages 1 year and older. Banzel is meant to be used in combination with other drugs used to treat seizures.

Topamax is also approved to treat seizures related to LGS. It’s approved for this use in adults and children ages 2 years and older.

In addition, Topamax is also approved to:

  • treat partial-onset or primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures in adults and children ages 2 years and older. For these conditions, the drug is approved for use alone as the first treatment. It’s also approved for use as an add-on treatment with other AEDs
  • prevent migraine attacks in adults and children ages 12 years and older.

* LGS is a form of epilepsy (a seizure disorder that causes recurring seizures). Usually, people with LGS develop the condition at a young age. In addition to having seizures, most people with LGS have problems with learning or other disabilities.

Drug forms and administration

Banzel comes as both tablets and a liquid suspension. Both of these forms are taken by mouth with food.

Topamax comes as tablets that can be swallowed whole. The drug also comes as sprinkle capsules that can either be swallowed whole or opened and sprinkled onto food.

Both drugs are typically taken twice each day.

Side effects and risks

Banzel and Topamax both contain medications to treat seizures related to LGS. Therefore, these medications can cause very similar side effects. But they can also cause some different ones as well. Below are examples of these side effects.

Mild side effects

These lists contain up to 10 of the most common mild side effects that can occur with Banzel, with Topamax, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

  • Can occur with Banzel:
    • no unique mild side effects
  • Can occur with Topamax:
    • decreased appetite, which may lead to weight loss
    • diarrhea
    • changes in vision
    • tingling in your hands, feet, arms, or legs
    • slowed thoughts and movements
  • Can occur with both Banzel and Topamax:
    • fatigue (lack of energy)
    • dizziness
    • feeling drowsy
    • nausea
    • headache

Serious side effects

These lists contain examples of serious side effects that can occur with Banzel, with Topamax, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

Effectiveness

Banzel and Topamax have different approved uses. But they’re both used to treat seizures related to LGS.

These drugs haven’t been directly compared in clinical studies. But separate studies have found both Banzel and Topamax to be effective in treating seizures associated with LGS.

Costs

According to estimates on GoodRx.com, Banzel costs significantly more than Topamax costs. The actual price you’ll pay for either drug depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Banzel and Topamax are both brand-name drugs. There is currently no generic form of Banzel. However, there is a generic form of Topamax, called topiramate. Banzel costs more than topiramate costs. (Brand-name medications usually cost more than generics.)

You may wonder how Banzel compares with other medications that are prescribed for similar uses. Here we look at how Banzel and Epidiolex are alike and different.

Ingredients

Banzel contains the active drug rufinamide, while Epidiolex contains the active drug cannabidiol. These drugs belong to a class of medications known as antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).

Uses

Banzel and Epidiolex are both approved to treat seizures related to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).* Banzel is approved for this use in adults and children ages 1 year and older. And Epidiolex is approved for this use in adults and children ages 2 years and older.

Unlike Epidiolex, which can be used alone, Banzel is meant to be used in combination with other drugs used to treat seizures related to LGS.

In addition, Epidiolex is approved to treat seizures associated with Dravet syndrome (DS). It’s approved for this condition in people ages 2 years and older.

* LGS is a form of epilepsy (a seizure disorder that causes recurring seizures). Usually, people with LGS develop the condition at a young age. In addition to having seizures, most people with LGS have problems with learning or other disabilities.

Drug forms and administration

Banzel comes as both tablets and a liquid suspension. Both forms of the drug are taken by mouth with food.

Epidiolex comes as a solution that’s also taken by mouth.

Both drugs are typically taken twice each day.

Side effects and risks

Banzel and Epidiolex both contain drugs used to treat seizures in people with LGS. Therefore, these medications can cause very similar side effects. But they may also cause some different ones as well. Below are examples of these side effects.

Mild side effects

These lists contain up to 10 of the most common mild side effects that can occur with Banzel, with Epidiolex, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

  • Can occur with Banzel:
    • headaches
    • nausea
  • Can occur with Epidiolex:
    • decreased appetite
    • diarrhea
    • rash
    • trouble falling asleep or having other sleep-related problems
    • infections
  • Can occur with both Banzel and Epidiolex:
    • feeling drowsy
    • fatigue (lack of energy)
    • dizziness

Serious side effects

These lists contain examples of serious side effects that can occur with Banzel, with Epidiolex, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

Effectiveness

The only condition both Banzel and Epidiolex are used to treat is seizures related to LGS.

These drugs haven’t been directly compared in clinical studies. But separate studies have found both Banzel and Epidiolex to be effective in treating seizures associated with LGS.

Costs

According to estimates on WellRx.com, Banzel costs significantly more than Epidiolex. The actual price you’ll pay for either drug depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Banzel and Epidiolex are both brand-name drugs. There are currently no generic forms of either drug. Brand-name medications usually cost more than generics.

You should take Banzel according to your doctor’s or healthcare provider’s instructions.

Banzel comes as both tablets and a liquid suspension. Both forms of Banzel are taken by mouth.

If you’re taking the liquid form of Banzel, be sure to shake the medication bottle well before taking your dose. To view specific instructions on how to measure and take doses of the liquid form of Banzel, see the manufacturer’s medication guide. (These instructions also explain how to clean your syringe after taking a dose of the drug.)

If you have any questions about how to take Banzel, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

When to take

Banzel should be taken twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try setting a reminder on your phone. A medication timer may be useful, too.

Taking Banzel with food

You should take Banzel with food.

Can Banzel be crushed, split, or chewed?

Yes, Banzel tablets can be crushed, split, or chewed. But keep in mind that the drug is also available as a liquid suspension that’s taken by mouth. The liquid suspension may be easier for you to take if you have trouble swallowing pills.

It’s not known exactly how Banzel works in your body to reduce seizures. However, the drug may work by slowing down the activity of sodium channels in your brain. (Your brain cells use sodium channels to send signals inside your body.)

When you have a seizure, your brain cells send signals much faster than usual. By slowing down sodium channels, your brain cells can’t send signals as quickly. This may help decrease the number of seizures you have.

How long does it take to work?

Banzel will begin working after you take your first dose of the drug.

Be sure to take the medication twice daily or as directed by your doctor. Taking Banzel consistently will help make sure that you have the right amount of Banzel in your body. This allows the drug to work properly and treat your condition.

It’s not known if Banzel is safe to take during pregnancy. However, in animal studies, Banzel caused problems in fetuses exposed to the drug during pregnancy. But keep in mind that animal studies don’t always predict what will happen in people.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor before taking Banzel. Your doctor may recommend a medication other than Banzel for you.

Banzel’s pregnancy registry

If you’re pregnant and taking Banzel, you’re encouraged to enroll in a pregnancy registry for antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). (Banzel belongs to a class of drugs called AEDs. These drugs are used to treat seizure disorders.)

The AED pregnancy registry collects information on the safety of using AEDs, including Banzel, during pregnancy. The registry pools information together from women and babies exposed to certain drugs during pregnancy. This information can be helpful for doctors and patients considering using these drugs in pregnancy.

To sign up for the registry, visit the program website or call 888-233-2334.

It’s not known if Banzel is safe to take during pregnancy. (For more information about the risks of taking Banzel during pregnancy, see the “Banzel and pregnancy” section above.)

If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while you’re using Banzel.

Banzel’s possible interaction with birth control

It’s important to note that Banzel may interact with hormonal contraceptives (birth control that’s made with hormones). This interaction can make the contraceptives less effective in preventing pregnancy. (For more information about this interaction, see the section “Banzel interactions” above.)

If you’re taking Banzel, you should use a form of birth control that’s not hormonal. Examples of nonhormonal birth control options include condoms, diaphragms, and copper IUDs.*

But if you want to keep using a hormonal birth control method with Banzel, you’ll need to use a nonhormonal method along with it. This will help ensure that pregnancy is prevented.

If you’d like to know more about the best options for preventing pregnancy while taking Banzel, talk with your doctor.

* Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small devices that are placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

It’s not known whether Banzel is passed into human breast milk. And it’s not known what effect the drug might have on a child who’s breastfed.

If you’re breastfeeding, talk with your doctor before taking Banzel. They can recommend if it’s safe for you to breastfeed while you’re using this drug.

Before taking Banzel, talk with your doctor about your health history. Banzel may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. These include:

  • Depression or suicidal thoughts or actions. Banzel may cause new or worsened depression and suicidal thoughts or actions. If you have a history of depression or suicidal thoughts or actions, talk with your doctor before starting Banzel. They may recommend a medication other than Banzel for you. Or they may recommend ways to treat your depression or suicidal thoughts so that you’re able to safely take Banzel. Call your doctor right away if you have depression or thoughts of suicide while you’re using this drug.
  • Familial short QT syndrome. You shouldn’t take Banzel if you have familial short QT syndrome (a genetic condition that causes problems with heart rhythm). This is because Banzel may also affect the rhythm of your heart, which may worsen your condition. Taking Banzel could increase your risk of sudden death or irregular heart rhythm. If you have familial short QT syndrome, talk with your doctor about medications other than Banzel to treat your seizure disorder.
  • Liver problems. Banzel hasn’t been studied in people with liver problems. Because of this, it’s not recommended that people with severe liver problems take Banzel. If you have liver problems, talk with your doctor before starting Banzel. They’ll recommend if Banzel is a safe option for you or if a different medication would be safer.
  • Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Banzel or to any of its ingredients, you shouldn’t take Banzel. Instead, ask your doctor about medications other than Banzel to treat your seizure disorder. And if you’re not sure about your medication allergies, talk with your doctor.
  • Pregnancy. It’s not known if Banzel is safe to take during pregnancy. For more information, please see the “Banzel and pregnancy” section above.
  • Breastfeeding. It’s not known if Banzel is safe to take while breastfeeding. For more information, please see the “Banzel and breastfeeding” section above.

Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Banzel, see the “Banzel side effects” section above.

Using more than the recommended dosage of Banzel can lead to serious side effects. Do not use more Banzel than your doctor recommends.

What to do in case you’ve taken too much Banzel

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor. You can also call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use their online tool. But if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

When you get Banzel from the pharmacy, the pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on the bottle. For most medications, this date is typically 1 year from the date the medication was dispensed. But keep in mind that with Banzel suspension, the drug should be used within 90 days after the bottle is first opened.

A drug’s expiration date helps guarantee that the medication is effective during this time. The current stance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to avoid using expired medications. If you have unused medication that has gone past the expiration date, talk to your pharmacist about whether you might still be able to use it.

Storage

How long a medication remains good can depend on many factors, including how and where you store the medication.

Banzel tablets and liquid suspension should be stored at room temperature (77°F/25°C). For short periods of time, such as during travel, you can keep Banzel between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C). Banzel should be kept in a tightly sealed container away from light.

Avoid storing Banzel tablets in areas where it could get damp or wet, such as in bathrooms. And keep bottles of Banzel suspension standing upright.

Disposal

If you no longer need to take Banzel and have leftover medication, it’s important to dispose of it safely. This helps prevent others, including children and pets, from taking the drug by accident. It also helps keep the drug from harming the environment.

This article provides several useful tips on medication disposal. You can also ask your pharmacist for information on how to dispose of your medication.

The following information is provided for clinicians and other healthcare professionals.

Indications

Banzel is approved for use in people ages 1 year and older with seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). The drug should be used as an adjunct treatment in combination with other seizure medications.

Administration

Banzel is taken by mouth, usually twice daily. Banzel should be taken with food.

Per the manufacturer, Banzel tablets may be crushed or split in half.

Instruct patients to shake Banzel suspension well before use. An adapter and calibrated oral dosing syringe are provided with the Banzel suspension.

Mechanism of action

The exact mechanism of action of Banzel is not known. However, it is believed that Banzel works by extending the duration of sodium channel inactivity. By prolonging sodium channel recovery, action potential firing decreases, which may decrease seizures from occurring.

Pharmacokinetics and metabolism

The maximum concentration of Banzel occurs at 4 to 6 hours post-dose. Food increases the absorption of Banzel, which is why the drug should be taken with food.

About 34% of Banzel is protein bound. The half-life of Banzel is between 6 and 10 hours.

Banzel is metabolized by hydrolysis in the liver, where carboxamide is converted into a carboxylic acid. Cytochrome P450 enzymes are not involved in the metabolism of Banzel. There are no active metabolites of this medication.

Banzel is a weak inhibitor of CYP2E1 and a weak inducer of CYP3A4.

About 2% of the drug is excreted, unchanged, in urine. Through urination, 85% of Banzel is eliminated.

Contraindications

Banzel is contraindicated in people with familial short QT syndrome.

Misuse, dependence, and withdrawal

There is no risk of misuse or dependence associated with Banzel. However, when stopping Banzel, people may experience an increased risk of seizures or status epilepticus. If the medication must be stopped, administration should be slowly titrated down to reduce the risk of seizures.

If the medication must be abruptly stopped, treatment should be started with another antiepileptic drug, and monitoring should be done for signs and symptoms of seizures. In clinical trials, people were titrated off of Banzel by decreasing their dose by 25% every 2 days.

Storage

Banzel tablets and suspension should both be stored at room temperature (77°F/25°C). Temporary excursions between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C) are permitted. The drug should be kept in a tightly sealed container away from light.

Banzel tablets need to be kept in a dry place. Bottles of Banzel suspension should be kept standing upright.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.