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Extended release medication reduces side effects

18 December, 2002

Many patients with epilepsy taking the anti-epileptic drug carbamazepine 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.

The drug is used to control partial seizures which originate in one part of the brain and then spread to other areas.

Dr Gregory Krauss, assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Baltimore, said:

"While the treatment is effective at reducing seizures, some patients, particularly at high doses, experience adverse side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, double-vision and unsteady walking. 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 seizures at the Johns Hopkins adult epilepsy clinic and found that nearly 50 per cent of patients taking immediate-release carbamazepine had side effects. Only 20 per cent of patients had side effects after switching to the extended-release version of the drug, despite high doses.