Overtreatment in adults with epilepsy.
SourceEpilepsy Research, 52, 1, (2002), pp. 43-52
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRational Use of Drugs and Pharmaco-epidemiology; Rationeel Geneesmiddelengebruik en Farmaco-epidemiologie
Overtreatment of epilepsy patients is traditionally associated with the use of polytherapy, i.e. use of more than one antiepileptic drug (AED). Although monotherapy is now being used in 70% of patients with epilepsy, these patients are also at risk at being overtreated. Ten to 20% of patients withdraw from their first drug because of adverse effects. This is partly related to high starting dosages and fast titration rates. The conventional AEDs are still first choice monotherapy drugs, although they potentially have more adverse effects, especially in the elderly. Other problems are the random selection of second or third choice drugs and the uncertainty about when to switch to polytherapy. Several authors have suggested that patients with progressive forms of epilepsy, such as patients with mesiotemporal sclerosis, should be treated adequately as soon as possible and that epilepsy surgery should be considered for them in a much earlier stage. Overtreatment in polytherapy is still a large threat, due to several reasons: drug loads are much higher, and thus more adverse effects are likely to develop; drug combinations are selected randomly, as evidence about effective combinations has been scarce; the constant choice between continuing the existing treatment (which is suboptimal) and trying new drugs (which may disturb a patient's equilibrium); the long-term use of benzodiazepines.
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