A study led by UC scientists shows that
one of the most commonly used epilepsy medications is more effective
when administered in an extended-release rather than an
Results of the multi-center study,
published recently in the journal Neurology, showed that
extended-release of the drug carbamazepine controls epileptic seizures
more effectively, and with fewer side effects, than the
This finding is important for epilepsy
treatment because side effects--sleepiness, dizziness, difficulty in
coordination, confusion and double vision--make patients reluctant to
take the drug, says lead author David Ficker, MD, assistant professor
of neurology, director of University Hospital's Epilepsy Center and a
member of the Mayfield Clinic and the Neuroscience Institute of
"If we can improve how patients tolerate
medication," says Dr. Ficker, "they feel better, are more likely to
take it--largely because they don't have to take it so often--and
consequently have an improved quality of life."
For three months Dr. Ficker and his
colleagues studied 458 epilepsy patients who were switched from taking
the immediate-release formulation to the newer, extended-release
version, in which the medication is delivered into the patient's
bloodstream over a 12-hour period.
The study participants experienced 35
percent fewer seizures per month compared with patients receiving the
immediate-release formula, possibly because of the more stable blood
level of medication that is usually achieved with an extended release
formula, Dr. Ficker says.
"The significant decrease in seizure
frequency," comments Dr. Ficker, "could also be due to an increase in
the number of patients actually continuing to take the medication
because of the reduction in side effects."
Study co-authors included Michael
Privitera, MD, of UC's neurology department, and Tracy Glauser, MD, of
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
The other institutions involved were
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Rush Medical College and
The Ohio State University.
Drs. Ficker, Privitera and Glauser and
researchers at the participating institutions received honoraria from
the study sponsor, Shire Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer of carbamazepine.