WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians need to take
care when prescribing seizure medication to HIV/AIDS patients to
prevent harmful interactions between drugs, experts warn.
The cautionary note from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN)
has led to the issuance of a new AAN guideline, which was developed
in consultation with the International League Against Epilepsy.
"It is important that patients know exactly which drugs they are taking and provide that information to all prescribing health care providers caring for them," lead guideline author Dr. Gretchen L. Birbeck, of Michigan State University, said in an AAN news release.
"Doctors may need to watch and adjust drug doses in people with HIV/AIDS who take seizure drugs," added Birbeck, who is also an AAN fellow.
Seizures and related disorders are not uncommon among HIV
patients, according to Birbeck and colleagues. It is estimated that
at least 10 percent of HIV patients experience seizures, they
In the new guideline, published in the Jan. 4 online editions of
Epilepsia, the research team cautioned that effectiveness of either set of drugs can be compromised when specific seizure medications are taken alongside certain HIV/AIDS treatments. Increased toxicity is another potential issue.
For example, levels of HIV/AIDS drugs can actually drop when
they come into contact with certain seizure medications, such as
phenytoin, phenobarbital and carbamazepine. The risk: an HIV drug
regimen might fail, the authors pointed out.
One way Birbeck's team hopes to mitigate against such risk is to
outline the correct dosages of seizure drugs. They noted that
dangerous drug interactions may be avoidable if medications are
prescribed in the right amounts.
The research team also said that the threat of harmful drug
interactions is highest in places where drug choices are the most
curtailed. That means that patients in poorer countries, where most
HIV/AIDS patients now live, are particularly vulnerable.
"Future research should target epilepsy and HIV/AIDS drug combinations where choices are limited, such as in developing countries, to better understand the risk of these drug interactions," Birbeck said in the news release.
For more on seizures, visit the