Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Epileptics Warned about Popular Medication

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Epileptics Warned about Popular Medication

Article excerpt

Thousands of St. Louisans who suffer from epilepsy were in a quandry Thursday after a drug manufacturer warned them that its popular anti-seizure medicine may cause another life-threatening disease.

Carter-Wallace Inc., a New York-based drug maker, told doctors to stop prescribing the drug, Felbatol, unless a patient's seizures would become too severe without the drug. Two patients taking Felbatol have died from aplastic anemia, a rare disease that cripples the body's blood-producing tissue, the bone marrow.

Out of 110,000 Americans on Felbatol, nine have developed aplastic anemia - 50 times the expected rate.

The drug became available in September. It was the first new anti-seizure drug in 15 years. Many of the nation's 2.5 million epileptics may have gone on the drug because it did not make patients sleepy - a frequent side-effect of anti-seizure drugs.

There are about 25,000 people with epilepsy in the St. Louis area.

Despite the drug manufacturer's warning about aplastic anemia, patients on Felbatol should not panic, neurologists here said Thursday. They urged patients not to stop taking the drug until they consult with their doctors. …

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