Many Neurologists Miss Critical Antiepileptic Drug Safety Updates

Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP
Published Online: Monday, May 6, 2013
Follow Pharmacy_Times:
A survey of US neurologists found that a significant minority is unaware of FDA drug safety updates and many who are aware of the updates fail to act on them.

Neurologists in the United States may not be as aware of FDA safety warnings as they need to be, according to the results of a study presented on March 21, 2013, at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual conference in San Diego.
 
In an online survey, the study authors asked neurologists about 4 recent FDA announcements regarding antiepileptic drug (AED) safety risks and whether the announcements had prompted the respondents to make changes in patient care. Of the 505 respondents, all members of the American Academy of Neurology, approximately 20% were unaware of the drug safety risks covered:
  • a new requirement for haplotype screening in patients of Asian descent initiating carbamazepine,
  • increased birth defect risks and impaired cognitive development due to in utero divalproex exposure, and
  • suicidality risk associated with newer AEDs
The researchers noted that although most neurologists surveyed knew about the haplotype screening requirement, almost 4 in 5 (77.5%) failed to perform it. In addition, 18 neurologists reported that their patients had hypersensitivity reactions to carbamazepine. The researchers found that neurologists had many ways of learning about drug safety risks, but that only notifications from specialty organizations appeared to lead to accurate knowledge of safety risks.
 
In order to improve communication of drug safety risks, a majority of the survey participants reported that they favored implementation of “a formal warning process via specialty organizations.” The neurologists also reported that emails written for specialists with updated product insert warnings would be helpful.
 
Pharmacists, too, must keep up with FDA drug safety warnings. Pharmacists can aid neurologists (and protect patients) by tracking the FDA warnings and sending along relevant information to neurologists that they work with.
 
Ms. Wick is a visiting professor at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy and a freelance writer from Virginia.

Related Articles
Casting doubt on previous conjectures, a new study suggests that statins do not protect patients against Parkinson’s disease.
Compared with those receiving short-acting antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), patients with epilepsy taking long-acting AEDs use fewer health care services and have lower related care costs.
Availability of a raw methamphetamine ingredient in popular OTC products prompted national regulations to move products that contain pseudoephedrine behind the pharmacy counter.
Even though most patients and their caregivers want to know about sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), if and when health care professionals should provide related information remains up in the air.
Latest Issues
  • photo
    Pharmacy Times
    photo
    Health-System Edition
    photo
    Directions in Pharmacy
    photo
    OTC Guide
    photo
    Generic Supplements
  • photo
    Pharmacy Careers
    photo
    Specialty Pharmacy Times
    photo
    Generic
$auto_registration$