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Experts call for urgent research into anti-epileptic drugs given to children

Researchers have called for urgent studies into the long-term safety of newer antiepileptic drugs after discovering that the number given to children has increased significantly over recent years, reports the June issue of British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

When the UK team studied antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) given to nearly 8,000 children over a 13-year period, they discovered that overall prescribing had risen by 19 per cent and there had been a five-fold increase in prescribing of newer AEDs.

The results follow a report by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) which called for greater research into paediatric drugs for epilepsy.

EMEA recommended further research into 21 antiepileptic drugs for children but didnt indicate which ones should be prioritised explains Professor Ian Wong from the Centre for Paediatric Pharmacy Research, a collaborative project run by the School of Pharmacy at the University of London, the UCL Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Our research has narrowed that list down to three drugs that have seen a massive rise in UK prescribing since 1993 lamotrigine, topiramate and levetiracetam. The uptake of these drugs has been rapid, yet their long-term safety has not been established and further research must now be seen as a priority.

Worldwide concern has been expressed about the need to reform regulations and develop better research structures for paediatric medicines, says Professor Wong, who is also a member of TEDDY - the Task-force of European Drug Development for the Young.

The American Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health have been leading the process for paediatric drug reform over the last ten years. And the European Union has proposed the Better Medicines for Children regulation and devised a research strategy to improve paediatric medicines research in the hope of increasing the availability of licensed medi
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
7-Jun-2007


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