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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has released a summary of the guidance health professionals should be using when it comes to valproate.
It brings together all the recommendations and safety advice associated with the epilepsy and bipolar disorder medication.
Other uses for the drug include treating depression, neuropathic pain, dementia and migraine, but this is strictly off-label.
One of the areas where specific caution must be taken with valproate is during pregnancy, as it can increase the risk of birth defects and persistent developmental disorders.
Statistics suggest that if valproate is taken during pregnancy, as many as four in ten babies could be born with developmental disorders and one in ten risk birth defects.
The summary from NICE comes in the wake of new restrictions by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on valproate.
It has effectively banned the drug for women of childbearing potential unless they are enrolled on a pregnancy prevention programme.
Health professionals can now go to one place to get an overall view on valproate, as the NICE summary brings together information from a range of sources.
This includes advice on safe prescribing from the MHRA, the British National Formulary and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
Paul Chrisp, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: “We worked closely with the MHRA to ensure that our guidelines which mention valproate were amended last year in order to signal the need for clinical practice to align with their revised regulatory position on valproate.
“This summary is a continuation of that work. It recognises the importance of a single cross-disciplinary valproate guideline to support healthcare professionals from all disciplines in the safe use of valproate and it will help to ensure that children are not exposed to valproate through their mother during pregnancy.”
Written by James Puckle
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