Journal Article

Postmortem Levetiracetam (Keppra) Data from North Carolina

Sandra C. Bishop-Freeman, Nina C. Kornegay and Ruth E. Winecker

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 36, issue 6, pages 422-428
Published in print July 2012 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online July 2012 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI:
Postmortem Levetiracetam (Keppra) Data from North Carolina

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Levetiracetam (Keppra®) is one of the newer anticonvulsant drugs used to treat seizures. Since 2003, the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Toxicology Laboratory has collected quantitative levetiracetam data in samples for 56 postmortem cases. The data presented herein will provide the forensic community with concentrations to assist in the interpretation of levetiracetam in postmortem blood. Decedents were divided into two groups according to manner of death as determined by the medical examiner for the purposes of studying levetiracetam concentrations. There were equal numbers of natural (N = 28) and non-natural deaths (N = 28). These data were subsequently divided into subgroups for further study to explore the therapeutic range of levetiracetam and how it relates to postmortem data. The cases not certified as natural were investigated to study levetiracetam concentrations in cases where it was determined to contribute to the cause of death (attributed) and those where it was not (unattributed). Until now, the literature has only reported levetiracetam overdoses in which the individuals have recovered with respiratory support. Discussed are two suicidal drug deaths from 2010 that are noted to have elevated levels of levetiracetam, 190 and 35 mg/L. Also included in the complete data set are postmortem concentrations for five patients under the age of 10 with levetiracetam ranging from 1.4 to 50 mg/L. This paper will also address the adverse effects of the drug and explore its potential risk for suicide.

Journal Article.  4361 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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