December 11, 2002

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Extended-Release Drugs Convenient and Safer For Seizure Patients 

Many patients with epilepsy taking a common drug to control seizures can reduce side effects by switching from three or four short-acting doses to two extended-release doses per day, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins. The drug, carbamazepine, is a first-line drug used to control partial seizures, which originate in one part of the brain and then spread to other areas. "While the treatment is effective at reducing seizures, some patients, particulary at high doses, experience adverse side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, double-vision and unsteady walking," says Gregory Krauss, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at Hopkins and co-author of the study. "We found that switching to longer-acting doses is not only more convenient for the patient, but actually reduces side effects."

Krauss and colleagues studied 63 patients who were treated for partial-onset epilepsy at the Johns Hopkins adult epilepsy clinic and found that nearly 50 percent of patients taking immediate-release carbamazepine had side effects. Only 20 percent of patients had side effects after switching to the extended-release version of the drug, despite high doses. The findings are to be presented at the 2002 American Epilepsy Society annual conference in Seattle.
Conversion from immediate- to extended-release carbamazepine markedly reduces CNS-related side effects in patients with partial-onset epilepsy. Akemi Miller, Jill Minger, Gregory Bergey, M.D., Gregory Krauss, M.D. Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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