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Depacon Side Effects Center

Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

Depacon (valproate sodium) Injection is used to treat various types of seizure disorders. It is an antiepileptic. This medication is available in generic form. Common side effects include dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, weakness, changes in taste, numbness or tingling of the skin, or pain at the injection site.

Patients should initiate therapy with Depacon at 10 to 15 mg/kg/day. The dosage should be increased by 5 to 10 mg/kg/week to achieve optimal clinical response, usually achieved at daily doses below 60 mg/kg/day. Depacon may interact with aspirin, felbamate, meropenem, rifampin, amitriptyline, nortriptyline, carbamazepine, clonazepam, diazepam, ethosuximide, lamotrigine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, tolbutamide, topiramate, warfarin, or zidovudine. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use. Depacon should be used during pregnancy only if the benefits outweigh the risks. It may harm a fetus. Depacon passes into breast milk. The effect on a nursing infant is unknown. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Our Depacon (valproate sodium) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is Prescribing information?

The FDA package insert formatted in easy-to-find categories for health professionals and clinicians.

Depacon FDA Prescribing Information: Side Effects
(Adverse Reactions)


The adverse events that can result from DEPACON (valproate sodium injection) use include all of those associated with oral forms of valproate. The following describes experience specifically with DEPACON (valproate sodium injection) . DEPACON (valproate sodium injection) has been generally well tolerated in clinical trials involving 111 healthy adult male volunteers and 352 patients with epilepsy, given at doses of 125 to 6000 mg (total daily dose). A total of 2% of patients discontinued treatment with DEPACON (valproate sodium injection) due to adverse events. The most common adverse events leading to discontinuation were 2 cases each of nausea/vomiting and elevated amylase. Other adverse events leading to discontinuation were hallucinations, pneumonia, headache, injection site reaction, and abnormal gait. Dizziness and injection site pain were observed more frequently at a 100 mg/min infusion rate than at rates up to 33 mg/min. At a 200 mg/min rate, dizziness and taste perversion occurred more frequently than at a 100 mg/min rate. The maximum rate of infusion studied was 200 mg/min.

Adverse events reported by at least 0.5% of all subjects/patients in clinical trials of DEPACON (valproate sodium injection) are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1: Adverse Events Reported During Studies of DEPACON (valproate sodium injection)

Body System/Event N = 463
Body as a Whole
  Chest Pain 1.7%
  Headache 4.3%
  Injection Site Inflammation 0.6%
  Injection Site Pain 2.6%
  Injection Site Reaction 2.4%
  Pain (unspecified) 1.3%
  Vasodilation 0.9%
  Sweating 0.9%
Digestive System
  Abdominal Pain 1.1%
  Diarrhea 0.9%
  Nausea 3.2%
  Vomiting 1.3%
Nervous System
  Dizziness 5.2%
  Euphoria 0.9%
  Hypesthesia 0.6%
  Nervousness 0.9%
  Paresthesia 0.9%
  Somnolence 1.7%
  Tremor 0.6%
  Pharyngitis 0.6%
Special Senses
  Taste Perversion 1.9%

In a separate clinical safety trial, 112 patients with epilepsy were given infusions of DEPACON (valproate sodium injection) (up to 15 mg/kg) over 5 to 10 minutes (1.5-3.0 mg/kg/min). The common adverse events ( > 2%) were somnolence (10.7%), dizziness (7.1%), paresthesia (7.1%), asthenia (7.1%), nausea (6.3%), and headache (2.7%). While the incidence of these adverse events was generally higher than in Table 1 (experience encompassing the standard, much slower infusion rates), e.g., somnolence (1.7%), dizziness (5.2%), paresthesia (0.9%), asthenia (0%), nausea (3.2%), and headache (4.3%), a direct comparison between the incidence of adverse events in the 2 cohorts cannot be made because of differences in patient populations and study designs.

Ammonia levels have not been systematically studied after IV valproate, so that an estimate of the incidence of hyperammonemia after IV DEPACON (valproate sodium injection) cannot be provided. Hyperammonemia with encephalopathy has been reported in 2 patients after infusions of DEPACON (valproate sodium injection) .


Based on a placebo-controlled trial of adjunctive therapy for treatment of complex partial seizures, DEPAKOTE (divalproex sodium) was generally well tolerated with most adverse events rated as mild to moderate in severity. Intolerance was the primary reason for discontinuation in the DEPAKOTE-treated patients (6%), compared to 1% of placebo-treated patients.

Table 2 lists treatment-emergent adverse events which were reported by ≥ 5% of DEPAKOTE-treated patients and for which the incidence was greater than in the placebo group, in the placebo-controlled trial of adjunctive therapy for treatment of complex partial seizures. Since patients were also treated with other antiepilepsy drugs, it is not possible, in most cases, to determine whether the following adverse events can be ascribed to DEPAKOTE alone, or the combination of DEPAKOTE and other antiepilepsy drugs.

Table 2: Adverse Events Reported by ≥ 5% of Patients Treated with DEPAKOTE During Placebo-Controlled Trial of Adjunctive Therapy for Complex Partial Seizures

Body System/Event Depakote (%)
(n = 77)
Placebo (%)
(n = 70)
Body as a Whole
  Headache 31 21
  Asthenia 27 7
  Fever 6 4
Gastrointestinal System
  Nausea 48 14
  Vomiting 27 7
  Abdominal Pain 23 6
  Diarrhea 13 6
  Anorexia 12 0
  Dyspepsia 8 4
  Constipation 5 1
Nervous System
  Somnolence 27 11
  Tremor 25 6
  Dizziness 25 13
  Diplopia 16 9
  Amblyopia/Blurred Vision 12 9
  Ataxia 8 1
  Nystagmus 8 1
  Emotional Lability 6 4
  Thinking Abnormal 6 0
  Amnesia 5 1
Respiratory System
  Flu Syndrome 12 9
  Infection 12 6
  Bronchitis 5 1
  Rhinitis 5 4
  Alopecia 6 1
  Weight Loss 6 0

Table 3 lists treatment-emergent adverse events which were reported by ≥ 5% of patients in the high dose DEPAKOTE group, and for which the incidence was greater than in the low dose group, in a controlled trial of DEPAKOTE monotherapy treatment of complex partial seizures. Since patients were being titrated off another antiepilepsy drug during the first portion of the trial, it is not possible, in many cases, to determine whether the following adverse events can be ascribed to DEPAKOTE alone, or the combination of DEPAKOTE and other antiepilepsy drugs.

Table 3: Adverse Events Reported by ≥ 5% of Patients in the High Dose Group in the Controlled Trial of DEPAKOTE Monotherapy for Complex Partial Seizures1

Body System/Event High Dose (%)
(n = 131)
Low Dose (%)
(n = 134)
Body as a Whole
  Asthenia 21 10
Digestive System
  Nausea 34 26
  Diarrhea 23 19
  Vomiting 23 15
  Abdominal Pain 12 9
  Anorexia 11 4
  Dyspepsia 11 10
Hemic/Lymphatic System
  Thrombocytopenia 24 1
  Ecchymosis 5 4
  Weight Gain 9 4
  Peripheral Edema 8 3
Nervous System
  Tremor 57 19
  Somnolence 30 18
  Dizziness 18 13
  Insomnia 15 9
  Nervousness 11 7
  Amnesia 7 4
  Nystagmus 7 1
  Depression 5 4
Respiratory System
  Infection 20 13
  Pharyngitis 8 2
  Dyspnea 5 1
Skin and Appendages
  Alopecia 24 13
Special Senses
  Amblyopia/Blurred Vision 8 4
  Tinnitus 7 1
1Headache was the only adverse event that occurred in ≥ 5% of patients in the high dose group and at an equal or greater incidence in the low dose group.

The following additional adverse events were reported by greater than 1% but less than 5% of the 358 patients treated with DEPAKOTE in the controlled trials of complex partial seizures:

Body as a Whole: Back pain, chest pain, malaise.

Cardiovascular System: Tachycardia, hypertension, palpitation.

Digestive System: Increased appetite, flatulence, hematemesis, eructation, pancreatitis, periodontal abscess. Hemic and Lymphatic System: Petechia.

Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders: SGOT increased, SGPT increased.

Musculoskeletal System: Myalgia, twitching, arthralgia, leg cramps, myasthenia.

Nervous System: Anxiety, confusion, abnormal gait, paresthesia, hypertonia, incoordination, abnormal dreams, personality disorder.

Respiratory System: Sinusitis, cough increased, pneumonia, epistaxis. Skin and Appendages: Rash, pruritus, dry skin.

Special Senses: Taste perversion, abnormal vision, deafness, otitis media.

Urogenital System: Urinary incontinence, vaginitis, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, urinary frequency.

Other Patient Populations

Adverse events that have been reported with all dosage forms of valproate from epilepsy trials, spontaneous reports, and other sources are listed below by body system.

Gastrointestinal: The most commonly reported side effects at the initiation of therapy are nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. These effects are usually transient and rarely require discontinuation of therapy. Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and constipation have been reported. Both anorexia with some weight loss and increased appetite with weight gain have also been reported. The administration of delayed-release divalproex sodium may result in reduction of gastrointestinal side effects in some patients using oral therapy.

CNS Effects: Sedative effects have occurred in patients receiving valproate alone but occur most often in patients receiving combination therapy. Sedation usually abates upon reduction of other antiepileptic medication. Tremor (may be dose-related), hallucinations, ataxia, headache, nystagmus, diplopia, asterixis, “spots before eyes”, dysarthria, dizziness, confusion, hypesthesia, vertigo, incoordination, and parkinsonism have been reported with the use of valproate. Rare cases of coma have occurred in patients receiving valproate alone or in conjunction with phenobarbital. In rare instances encephalopathy with or without fever has developed shortly after the introduction of valproate monotherapy without evidence of hepatic dysfunction or inappropriately high plasma valproate levels. Although recovery has been described following drug withdrawal, there have been fatalities in patients with hyperammonemic encephalopathy, particularly in patients with underlying urea cycle disorders (see WARNINGS - Urea Cycle Disorders and PRECAUTIONS).

Several reports have noted reversible cerebral atrophy and dementia in association with valproate therapy.

Dermatologic: Transient hair loss, skin rash, photosensitivity, generalized pruritus, erythema multiforme, and Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Rare cases of toxic epidermal necrolysis have been reported including a fatal case in a 6 month old infant taking valproate and several other concomitant medications. An additional case of toxic epidermal necrosis resulting in death was reported in a 35 year old patient with AIDS taking several concomitant medications and with a history of multiple cutaneous drug reactions. Serious skin reactions have been reported with concomitant administration of lamotrigine and valproate (see PRECAUTIONS - DRUG INTERACTIONS).

Psychiatric: Emotional upset, depression, psychosis, aggression, hyperactivity, hostility, and behavioral deterioration.

Musculoskeletal: Weakness.

Hematologic: Thrombocytopenia and inhibition of the secondary phase of platelet aggregation may be reflected in altered bleeding time, petechiae, bruising, hematoma formation, epistaxis, and frank hemorrhage (see PRECAUTIONS - General and DRUG INTERACTIONS). Relative lymphocytosis, macrocytosis, hypofibrinogenemia, leukopenia, eosinophilia, anemia including macrocytic with or without folate deficiency, bone marrow suppression, pancytopenia, aplastic anemia, agranulocytosis, and acute intermittent porphyria.

Hepatic: Minor elevations of transaminases (e.g., SGOT and SGPT) and LDH are frequent and appear to be dose-related. Occasionally, laboratory test results include increases in serum bilirubin and abnormal changes in other liver function tests. These results may reflect potentially serious hepatotoxicity (see WARNINGS).

Endocrine: Irregular menses, secondary amenorrhea, breast enlargement, galactorrhea, and parotid gland swelling. Abnormal thyroid function tests (see PRECAUTIONS).

There have been rare spontaneous reports of polycystic ovary disease. A cause and effect relationship has not been established.

Pancreatic: Acute pancreatitis including fatalities (see WARNINGS).

Metabolic: Hyperammonemia (see PRECAUTIONS), hyponatremia, and inappropriate ADH secretion.

There have been rare reports of Fanconi's syndrome occurring chiefly in children.

Decreased carnitine concentrations have been reported although the clinical relevance is undetermined.

Hyperglycinemia has occurred and was associated with a fatal outcome in a patient with preexistent nonketotic hyperglycinemia.

Genitourinary: Enuresis and urinary tract infection.

Special Senses: Hearing loss, either reversible or irreversible, has been reported; however, a cause and effect relationship has not been established. Ear pain has also been reported.

Other: Allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, edema of the extremities, lupus erythematosus, bone pain, cough increased, pneumonia, otitis media, bradycardia, cutaneous vasculitis, fever, and hypothermia.


Although DEPACON (valproate sodium injection) has not been evaluated for safety and efficacy in the treatment of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder, the following adverse events not listed above were reported by 1% or more of patients from two placebo-controlled clinical trials of DEPAKOTE (DIVALPROEX SODIUM) tablets.

Body as a Whole: Chills, neck pain, neck rigidity.

Cardiovascular System: Hypotension, postural hypotension, vasodilation.

Digestive System: Fecal incontinence, gastroenteritis, glossitis.

Musculoskeletal System: Arthrosis.

Nervous System: Agitation, catatonic reaction, hypokinesia, reflexes increased, tardive dyskinesia, vertigo.

Skin and Appendages: Furunculosis, maculopapular rash, seborrhea.

Special Senses: Conjunctivitis, dry eyes, eye pain.

Urogenital: Dysuria.


Although DEPACON (valproate sodium injection) has not been evaluated for safety and efficacy in the prophylactic treatment of migraine headaches, the following adverse events not listed above were reported by 1% or more of patients from two placebo-controlled clinical trials of DEPAKOTE (DIVALPROEX SODIUM) tablets.

Body as a Whole: Face edema.

Digestive System: Dry mouth, stomatitis.

Urogenital System: Cystitis, metrorrhagia, and vaginal hemorrhage.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Depacon (Valproate Sodium Injection) »


Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration


You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


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