What is Valproic Acid?

Valproic acid (VPA) is a chemical compound that has found clinical use as an anticonvulsant and mood-stabilizing drug, primarily in the treatment of epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and less commonly major depression. It is also used to treat migraine headaches and schizophrenia.

It is marketed under the brand names Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene, Depacon, Stavzor.

Related drugs include the sodium salts sodium valproate, used as an anticonvulsant, and a combined formulation, valproate semisodium, used as a mood stabilizer and additionally in the U.S. also as an anticonvulsant.

Valproic acid (by its official name ''2-propylvaleric acid'') was first synthesized in 1882 by Burton as an analogue of valeric acid, found naturally in valerian. A clear liquid fatty acid at room temperature, for many decades its only use was in laboratories as a "metabolically inert" solvent for organic compounds.

In 1962, the French researcher Pierre Eymard serendipitously discovered the anticonvulsant properties of valproic acid while using it as a vehicle for a number of other compounds that were being screened for anti-seizure activity. He found that it prevented pentylenetetrazol-induced convulsions in rodents. Since then it has also been used for migraine and bipolar disorder.

Branded products include:

  • Depakene (Abbott Laboratories in U.S. & Canada)
  • Convulex (Pfizer in the UK and Byk Madaus in South Africa)
  • Stavzor (Noven Pharmaceuticals Inc.)
  • Depakine (Sanofi Aventis)
  • Deprakine (Sanofi Aventis Finland)
  • Epival (Abbott Laboratories U.S. & Canada)
  • Epilim (Sanofi Synthelabo Australia)
  • Encorate (Sun Pharmaceuticals India)
  • Valcote (Abbott Laboratories Argentina)

Further Reading


This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Valproic acid" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2014

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