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What does it do?

Valproate sodium is used to treat and prevent seizures. Sometimes it is used for other conditions such as bipolar disorder.

Before you start

  • Valproate sodium can seriously harm an unborn baby if it is taken during pregnancy. If there is a chance you could get pregnant, you will need to take a pregnancy test before starting and while you are taking it. It is very important to use reliable contraception. Talk with your doctor about your contraceptive options. If you plan to get pregnant, or find you are pregnant, contact your doctor.
  • Tell your doctor if you have liver problems, or if you are breastfeeding.

How should you take it?

Take valproate sodium regularly as directed with food and a glass of water.
Enteric coated (EC) 200 mg and 500 mg tablet: Swallow whole – do not crush or chew.
100 mg tablet: You can crush these if you need to.
Liquid: Measure carefully with an oral syringe or measuring spoon. Shake the bottle well before measuring each dose.

What if you forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as possible and continue as directed.

Can you take other medicines?

Some medicines available without a prescription may react with valproate sodium including:

  • some antihistamines, such as chlorphenamine, hyoscine, meclozine and promethazine. These can be in medicines for allergies, nausea and colds.

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products (e.g. ginkgo) or recreational drugs (e.g. ecstasy).

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Skin rash, skin peeling or blisters

Stop taking and see your doctor immediately

Suicidal thoughts

Severe stomach pain, nausea

Symptoms of liver problems including: yellow skin or eyes, itching, dark urine, pale bowel motions, abdominal pain

Reduced number of blood cells that fight infections or help your blood to clot - symptoms include: fever, chills, sore throat or generally feeling unwell, or easy or unusual bruising or bleeding

Tell your doctor immediately

Confusion, drowsiness or weakness

Loss of co-ordination/walking or handwriting problems, tremor

Memory problems

Changes in vision, unusual eye movements

Hearing loss, ringing in the ears

Tell your doctor

Headache, dizziness

Swollen feet or legs

Hair loss or thinning

Changes in periods

Change of appetite or weight

Diarrhoea, stomach upset

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Valproate sodium can impair your ability to do tasks such as driving or using machines. Alcohol makes this worse. Discuss your risk with your health professional. (search NZTA - Are you safe to drive?)
  • Do not stop taking valproate sodium without talking to your doctor first, unless you have a skin rash (see Side Effects).

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the MyMedicines Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Te Whatu Ora - Waitaha, New Zealand. March 2023

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at Te Whatu Ora – Waitaha. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed