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News1997February › Epilepsy: can do without drugs › February 1997

Epilepsy: can do without drugs

Individuals with well controlled epilepsy are unlikely to experience adverse effects if taken off their antiepileptic drugs

Individuals with well controlled epilepsy are unlikely to experience adverse effects if taken off their antiepileptic drugs.

A recent long term study showed that initially there is some risk of seizure after withdrawal of drugs usually within the first two years. However, after that there is no difference in the rate of seizures for those who have stopped taking drugs over those who continue with drug therapy.

Those who have a high recurrence rate of seizures while on drug therapy appear to be most at risk of seizures after withdrawal (Epilepsia, 1996; 37: 1043-50).

All new epilepsy drugs are much of a muchness. A meta analysis of all randomized, placebo controlled studies relating to six antiepileptic drugs gabapentin, lamotrigine, tiagabine, topiramate, vigabatrin and zonisamide has concluded that none was more effective than any other as a second line therapy in those with recurring seizures (BMJ, 1996; 313:1169-74).

See WDDTY vol 6, nos 8 and 11 and vol 4, no 1 for more information on epilepsy, the side effects of anticonvulsant drugs and a list of alternative treatments.


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