Research into side effects could make more antiepileptic drugs available
Researchers at the University of Liverpool are attempting to prove that drugs withdrawn due to their side effects can still be administered safely to certain patients.
These include carbamazepine, which can be used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder, but has also been linked to a life-threatening skin condition called Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS).
According to the university’s MRC Centre for Drug Safety Science, though, patients known to have developed SJS from using carbamazepine carry a specific genetic variant.
The researchers are now evaluating if this genetic information can be used to determine whether or not it is safe to administer the antiepileptic drug to the patient.
Kevin Park, director of the centre, explained: “Improving our understanding of the mechanisms that lead to serious adverse side effects will lead to existing medicines being prescribed more safely and new medicines being developed more effectively.”
Side effects from using approved drugs are rare, but once identified, almost always result in that form of treatment being withdrawn.
This means that if one in 10,000 patients suffers, 9,999 will be forced to stop using an effective medicine, charity Sense About Science commented.