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Friday 28th October 2016

Child epilepsy drugs fears

11th June 2007

Researchers have expressed concerns over the safety of newer anti-epilepsy drugs that are being prescribed for children.

Lonely Boy

A team of experts say that the long-term safety of such drugs has not yet been established and that urgent safety studies are needed.

In a report for The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, they say prescriptions have risen five-fold in 13 years but with many of those medicines not fully tested on children before licensing, consultants have no official guidance on doses to refer to when prescribing. That meant consultants were left to estimate safe and effective doses for each child.

The lead author of the report is Professor Ian Wong from the Centre for Paediatric Pharmacy Research in London, who worked in a collaborative project run by the School of Pharmacy at the University of London, the UCL Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Professor Wong and his colleagues studied anti-epileptic drugs given to nearly 8,000 children over a 13-year period and found three drugs in particular - lamotrigine, topiramate and levetiracetam - had seen a massive rise in prescribing.

They said this was concerning as their long-term safety has not been established and further research must be a priority.

Dr Colin Ferrie, a consultant paediatric neurologist at Leeds General Infirmary, said new trials were important and pharmaceutical companies should be encouraged to carry out “clinically relevant� trials prior to the original granting of a licence.

He said when prescribing a drug “off licence� to a child, it was important to let the family know the exact implications.

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