May 24, 2017
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Mechanism Of Action

The precise mechanism(s) by which rufinamide exerts its antiepileptic effect is unknown. The results of in vitro studies suggest that the principal mechanism of action of rufinamide is modulation of the activity of sodium channels and, in particular, prolongation of the inactive state of the channel. Rufinamide ( ≥ 1 μM) significantly slowed sodium channel recovery from inactivation after a prolonged prepulse in cultured cortical neurons, and limited sustained repetitive firing of sodium-dependent action potentials (EC50 of 3.8 μM).



BANZEL oral suspension is bioequivalent on a mg per mg basis to BANZEL tablets. BANZEL is well absorbed after oral administration. However, the rate of absorption is relatively slow and the extent of absorption is decreased as dose is increased. The pharmacokinetics does not change with multiple dosing. Most elimination of rufinamide is via metabolism, with the primary metabolite resulting from enzymatic hydrolysis of the carboxamide moiety to form the carboxylic acid. This metabolic route is not cytochrome P450 dependent. There are no known active metabolites. Plasma half-life of rufinamide is approximately 6­10 hours.

Absorption and Distribution

Following oral administration of BANZEL, peak plasma concentrations occur between 4 and 6 hours (Tmax) both under fed and fasted conditions. BANZEL tablets display decreasing bioavailability with increasing dose after single and multiple dose administration. Based on urinary excretion, the extent of absorption was at least 85% following oral administration of a single dose of 600 mg rufinamide tablet under fed conditions.

Multiple dose pharmacokinetics can be predicted from single dose data for both rufinamide and its metabolite. Given the dosing frequency of every 12 hours and the half-life of 6 to 10 hours, the observed steady-state peak concentration of about two to three times the peak concentration after a single dose is expected.

Food increased the extent of absorption of rufinamide in healthy volunteers by 34% and increased peak exposure by 56% after a single dose of 400 mg tablet, although the Tmax was not elevated [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

Only a small fraction of rufinamide (34%) is bound to human serum proteins, predominantly to albumin (27%), giving little risk of displacement drug-drug interactions. Rufinamide was evenly distributed between erythrocytes and plasma. The apparent volume of distribution is dependent upon dose and varies with body surface area. The apparent volume of distribution was about 50 L at 3200 mg per day.


Rufinamide is extensively metabolized but has no active metabolites. Following a radiolabeled dose of rufinamide, less than 2% of the dose was recovered unchanged in urine. The primary biotransformation pathway is carboxylesterase(s) mediated hydrolysis of the carboxamide group to the acid derivative CGP 47292. A few minor additional metabolites were detected in urine, which appeared to be acyl-glucuronides of CGP 47292. There is no involvement of oxidizing cytochrome P450 enzymes or glutathione in the biotransformation process.

Rufinamide is a weak inhibitor of CYP 2E1. It did not show significant inhibition of other CYP enzymes. Rufinamide is a weak inducer of CYP 3A4 enzymes.

Rufinamide did not show any significant inhibition of P-glycoprotein in an invitro study.


Renal excretion is the predominant route of elimination for drug related material, accounting for 85% of the dose based on a radiolabeled study. Of the metabolites identified in urine, at least 66% of the rufinamide dose was excreted as the acid metabolite CGP 47292, with 2% of the dose excreted as rufinamide.

The plasma elimination half-life is approximately 6-10 hours in healthy subjects and patients with epilepsy.

Special Populations

  • Pediatrics
    Based on a population analysis which included a total of 115 patients, including 85 pediatric patients (24 patients ages 1 to 3 years, 40 patients ages 4 to 11 years, and 21 patients ages 12 to 17 years), the pharmacokinetics of rufinamide was similar across all age groups.
  • Elderly
    The results of a study evaluating single-dose (400 mg) and multiple dose (800 mg per day for 6 days) pharmacokinetics of rufinamide in 8 healthy elderly subjects (65-80 years old) and 7 younger healthy subjects (18-45 years old) found no significant age-related differences in the pharmacokinetics of rufinamide.

Population pharmacokinetic analyses of females show a 6-14% lower apparent clearance of rufinamide compared to males. This effect is not clinically important.


In a population pharmacokinetic analysis of clinical studies, no difference in clearance or volume of distribution of rufinamide was observed between the black and Caucasian subjects, after controlling for body size. Information on other races could not be obtained because of smaller numbers of these subjects.

Renal Impairment

Rufinamide pharmacokinetics in 9 patients with severe renal impairment (creatinine clearance < 30 mL per min) was similar to that of healthy subjects. Patients undergoing dialysis 3 hours post rufinamide dosing showed a reduction in AUC and Cmax by 29% and 16%, respectively.

Drug Interactions

Based on in vitro studies, rufinamide shows little or no inhibition of most cytochrome P450 enzymes at clinically relevant concentrations, with weak inhibition of CYP 2E1. Drugs that are substrates of CYP 2E1 (e.g., chlorzoxazone) may have increased plasma levels in the presence of rufinamide, but this has not been studied.

Based on a population pharmacokinetic analysis, rufinamide clearance was decreased by valproate. In pediatric patients, valproate administration may lead to elevated levels of rufinamide by up to 70% [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Based on in vivo drug interaction studies with triazolam and oral contraceptives, rufinamide is a weak inducer of the CYP 3A4 enzyme and can decrease exposure of drugs that are substrates of CYP 3A4.

Co-administration and pre-treatment of BANZEL (400 mg twice daily) and triazolam resulted in a 37% decrease in AUC and a 23% decrease in Cmax of triazolam, a CYP 3A4 substrate.

Co-administration of BANZEL (800 mg twice daily for 14 days) and Ortho-Novum 1/35® resulted in a mean decrease in the ethinyl estradiol AUC0-24 of 22% and Cmax by 31% and norethindrone AUC0­24 by 14% and Cmax by 18%, respectively. The clinical significance of this decrease is unknown [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Rufinamide is metabolized by carboxylesterases. Drugs that may induce the activity of carboxylesterases may increase the clearance of rufinamide. Broad-spectrum inducers such as carbamazepine and phenobarbital may have minor effects on rufinamide metabolism via this mechanism. Drugs that are inhibitors of carboxylesterases may decrease metabolism of rufinamide.

Clinical Studies

Adult and Pediatric Patients Ages 4 Years and Older

The effectiveness of BANZEL as adjunctive treatment for the seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) in adult and pediatric patients ages 4 years and older was established in a single multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel-group study (N=138). Male and female patients (between 4 and 30 years of age) were included if they had a diagnosis of inadequately controlled seizures associated with LGS (including both atypical absence seizures and drop attacks) and were being treated with 1 to 3 concomitant stable dose AEDs. Each patient must have had at least 90 seizures in the month prior to study entry. After completing a 4-week Baseline Phase on stable therapy, patients were randomized to have BANZEL or placebo added to their ongoing therapy during the 12 -week Double-blind Phase. The Double-blind Phase consisted of 2 periods: the Titration Period (1 to 2 weeks) and the Maintenance Period (10 weeks). During the Titration Period, the dose was increased to a target dosage of approximately 45 mg/kg per day (3200 mg in adults of > 70 kg), given on a twice daily schedule. Dosage reductions were permitted during titration if problems in tolerability were encountered. Final doses at titration were to remain stable during the maintenance period. Target dosage was achieved in 88% of the BANZEL-treated patients. The majority of these patients reached the target dose within 7 days, with the remaining patients achieving the target dose within 14 days.

The primary efficacy variables were:

  • The percent change in total seizure frequency per 28 days;
  • The percent change in tonic-atonic (drop attacks) seizure frequency per 28 days;
  • Seizure severity from the Parent/Guardian Global Evaluation of the patient's condition. This was a 7-point assessment performed at the end of the Double-blind Phase. A score of +3 indicated that the patient's seizure severity was very much improved, a score of 0 that the seizure severity was unchanged, and a score of -3 that the seizure severity was very much worse.

The results of the three primary endpoints are shown in Table 7 below.

Table 7: Lennox -Gastaut Syndrome Trial Seizure Frequency Primary Efficacy Variable Results

Variable Placebo Rufinamide
Median percent change in total seizure frequency per 28 days -11.7 -32.7 (p=0.0015)
Median percent change in tonic-atonic seizure frequency per 28 days 1.4 -42.5 (p < 0.0001)
Improvement in Seizure Severity Rating from Global Evaluation 30.6 53.4 (p=0.0041)

Pediatric Patients Ages 1 To Less Than 4 Years

The effectiveness of BANZEL as adjunctive treatment for the seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome in pediatric patients ages 1 year to less than 4 years was established based on a single multi­center, open-label, active-controlled, randomized, pharmacokinetic bridging study. The pharmacokinetic profile of BANZEL is not significantly affected by age either as a continuous covariate (1 to 35 years) or as a categorical covariate (age categories: 1 to less than 4 years and 4 years of age and older), after body weight is taken into consideration.

Last reviewed on RxList: 7/13/2015
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

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