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Clobazam / Frisium / Novo-Clobazam

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1 Clobazam / Frisium / Novo-Clobazam on Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:05 pm

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Clobazam (KLOH-bah-zam)is the generic name (non-brand name) of the brand-name drug commonly known as Frisium (FRIH-zee-um). Clobazam is a seizure medicine and is available in many countries outside the United States. In Canada, clobazam is also sold under the brand name Novo-Clobazam.

The first benzodiazepines were synthesized in 1933 and were more fully developed in the 1950s. Clobazam (Frisium) was not developed until the 1970s. It has a subtle chemical difference from earlier benzodiazepines used to treat seizures, such as clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), and chlorazepate (Tranxene). This difference may lead to less of a problem with tolerance with clobazam than with other benzodiazepines. Today, clobazam is approved for use in almost all countries except the United States.

In April, 2004, Ovation Pharmaceuticals announced that it had arranged to buy the North American rights to clobazam (Frisium) and planned to try to get FDA approval for sale in the United States. This process is likely to take 3 to 5 years, however.

Clobazam is effective against all seizure types, although tolerance (lessening of the effect from the same dose) may limit its long-term usefulness for some patients.

It is used mainly as an add-on (adjunctive) medication for primary generalized and partial seizure disorders but it also can be effective when used alone.

In addition, it is used intermittently to treat seizures associated with the menstrual cycle

The side effects of clobazam are generally mild and usually disappear if the dose is reduced.

The side effects most often reported are:

drowsiness
dizziness
poor coordination
drooling
restlessness or aggressiveness

If these problems do not go away within several days, or are really bothersome, call the doctor. Sometimes the doctor can help with these side effects by changing the prescription:

reducing the overall amount of clobazam

changing the amount taken at certain times, such as taking a greater proportion of the clobazam at bedtime to reduce daytime sleepiness

prescribing smaller doses, to be taken more often

No one should stop taking clobazam or change the amount they take or when they take it without their doctor's guidance.

Be sure to read about the serious side effects so you will be aware of symptoms that might indicate the beginning of a serious reaction to clobazam. These serious problems are very rare but everyone who takes this medicine should at least be aware of them.

People who have just started taking clobazam(or who have just started taking a larger amount) should be careful during activities that might be dangerous, until they know whether they are having any side effects.

Long-term side effects
Clobazam and other benzodiazepines are the medicines that are most likely to cause psychological dependence. When someone takes a benzodiazepine at a certain dosage for more than 2 to 4 weeks, the body (or specifically, the brain's receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA) becomes accustomed to it. Then if a dose is missed or reduced, a withdrawal process starts, characterized by:

anxiety
increased heart rate
tremor
generally feeling unwell

Taking another pill relieves all of these symptoms, confirming the person's belief that he or she "needs" the medication.

This is a very dangerous cycle, since long-term use can cause long-lasting changes in the brain's GABA receptors that lead to significant problems such as impaired cognition, decreased motivation, and depression. In this setting, rapid dose reduction can cause severe symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and illness, as well as seizures.

In many of these cases, very gradual reduction of the benzodiazepine (often over many months or years) can lead to a dramatic improvement in attention, concentration, memory, and mood without worsening the seizures, insomnia, or anxiety for which the medication was originally prescribed.

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