Monotherapy versus Polytherapy for Epilepsy: A Multicenter Double-Blind Randomized Study.
SourceEpilepsia, 42, 11, (2001), pp. 1387-1394
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectEpidemiology; Rational Use of Drugs and Pharmaco-epidemiology; Epidemiologie; Rationeel Geneesmiddelengebruik en Farmaco-epidemiologie
PURPOSE: Monotherapy has been the gold standard in epilepsy treatment for the last 20 years, partly because of the reputation for increased toxicity of polytherapy. However, monotherapy and polytherapy have not been compared in a double-blind clinical trial. Open trials that compared the two treatments were not optimally designed and compared the two at unequal drug loads (i.e., at nonequivalent dosages). We report on a double-blind clinical trial in which a combination of carbamazepine (CBZ) and valproate (VPA) was compared with CBZ monotherapy. Patients started with equal drug loads, and neurotoxicity was the primary outcome measure. METHODS: The 130 adult patients with untreated generalized tonic--clonic and/or partial seizures were randomized to equal drug loads of either monotherapy (400 mg CBZ per day) or polytherapy (200 mg CBZ plus 300 mg VPA per day). Outcome was measured by seizure counts, clinimetric epilepsy scales, and neuropsychological tests at baseline, at 2 and 12 months, and irregularly between 2 and 12 months. RESULTS: No statistical differences were found between the two treatments in the reduction of seizure frequencies, in overall neurotoxicity, or in overall systemic toxicity. The frequencies and clinimetric scores of certain adverse effects did differ (e.g., more monotherapy patients remained sedated, and more polytherapy patients gained weight). Fewer polytherapy patients withdrew because of adverse effects (14 vs. 22%), although this did not reach statistical significance (p=0.15). Neuropsychological assessment did not show significant differences. CONCLUSIONS: No differences were found in overall neurotoxicity between monotherapy and polytherapy.
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