More About Depakote
Depakote, known also by its chemical names valproate semisodium and divalproex sodium, is made up of equal parts sodium valproate and valproic acid. It has been used for decades in treating epilepsy, bipolar disorder and migraine headaches.
It is not fully known how Depakote works, however, recent theories propose that it guards from falling levels of the lipids phosphatidylinositol and trisphosphate, which are associated with seizures. It has also been tied to heightened amounts of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain.
The chemical compound valproic acid that makes up Depakote was first discovered in 1882, but its uses weren't realized until 1962, when French scientist Pierre Eymard accidently found that it could limit seizures.
Early versions were first approved for the treatment of epileptic seizures in France in 1967, then in the United States in 1978. The FDA later approved Depakote to treat bipolar disorder and migraines.
Valproic acid has become the most commonly prescribed drug in the world for seizures. The combination drug that makes up Depakote is sold around the world under different brand names, including Epilim, Stavzor, Convulex, Valpro, Vilapro and Valparin.
In addition to its approved uses, doctors also often prescribe Depakote off-label for impulse control disorders such as Parkinson's disease. New research has also shown it may be beneficial in treating cancer and HIV.
For its benefits, the World Health Organization has listed valproic acid as one of the most important medications in the world. The patent for Depakote expired in 2008 and several generic versions have been available since then. Before that, however, it earned over $1.5 billion in sales per year for drug giant Abbott Laboratories.