Adverse Effects Similar With Single, Multiple Epilepsy Drugs

And study finds that antiepileptic drug load is not associated with adverse event profile scores

WEDNESDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Treating a patient with epilepsy with multiple antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) does not increase the incidence of adverse effects compared with treatment with a single AED, and drug load is also not correlated with adverse effects, according to a study published online April 20 in Epilepsia.

Maria Paola Canevini, M.D., of the University of Milan in Italy, and colleagues studied 809 adult patients with refractory epilepsy (mean 23.9 years duration). The patients were assessed through interviews and the Adverse Event Profile (AEP) questionnaire.

The most commonly prescribed AEDs for the patients on monotherapy were carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine and lamotrigine. Of the 77.7 percent of patients on polytherapy, levetiracetam was the most commonly coprescribed drug. The researchers found that polytherapy patients had higher drug loads than monotherapy patients and that AED loads increased with increasing numbers of AEDs in the treatment regimen. However, they found that AEP scores did not differ between those on monotherapy and those on polytherapy (42.8 and 42.6, respectively). There also was no correlation found between AEP scores and AED load.

"Adverse effects did not differ between monotherapy and polytherapy patients, and did not correlate with AED load, possibly as a result of physicians' intervention in individualizing treatment regimens. Taking into account the limitations of a cross-sectional survey, these findings are consistent with the hypothesis that adverse effects are determined more by individual susceptibility, type of AEDs used, and physicians' skills, than number of coprescribed AEDs and AED load," the authors write.

A co-author disclosed financial ties to the manufacturers of several AEDs. Other study authors disclosed ties to pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

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