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

y to compare newer and conventional AED prescribing in the UK says Professor Wong, who as a result of the study - has been awarded a research contract by the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to assess deaths among children and adolescents using antiepileptic drugs.

Our research found that paediatric prescribing of antiepileptic drugs showed a significant increase over the study period and that newer AEDs are increasingly being prescribed in preference to more tried and tested conventional drugs.

Newer AEDs have proved popular, mainly because they are less likely to react with other prescribed drugs.

However, these newer AEDs are subject to fewer licensing restrictions because there is more evidence about their benefits, gathered from controlled trials, than their more traditional counterparts. As new safety data emerges, restrictions in prescribing may be implemented.

Many drugs are not tested on children before they are licensed because of the difficulties of including children in clinical trials adds Dr Jeffrey Aronson, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal and Reader in Clinical Pharmacology at Oxford University.

This means that clinicians often have to rely on their experience and scale down adult drugs for paediatric use, which is widely regarded as most unsatisfactory.

The research by Wong and colleagues highlights this important problem, by providing us with an excellent picture of prescribing trends for children with epilepsy. We hope that this important piece of research will help to inform research priorities for the newer AEDs.

It also raises concerns about the rapid increase in prescribing drugs whose safety has not been established for paediatric use, which is an issue that the Journal has often dealt with and will continue to cover.

The authors have stressed that it is important that parents continue to give their children medicines that have been prescribe
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
7-Jun-2007


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