valproic acid (cont.)
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What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking valproic acid (Depakene, Stavzor)?
In rare cases, valproic acid has caused life-threatening liver failure, especially in children younger than 2 years old. Children of this age may be at even greater risk for liver problems if they use more than one seizure medication, if they have a metabolic disorder, or if they have a brain disease causing mental impairment (such as Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, Huntington disease, multiple sclerosis, or a brain injury or infection).
Valproic acid has also caused rare cases of life-threatening pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Pancreatitis can come on suddenly and symptoms may start even after you have been taking valproic acid for several years. Do not take valproic acid if you have liver disease or a urea cycle disorder.
You should not take this medication if you are allergic to valproic acid, or if you have severe liver disease or a urea cycle disorder.
To make sure you can safely take valproic acid, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits. Do not miss any scheduled appointments.
You may have thoughts about suicide while taking this medication. Tell your doctor if you have new or worsening depression or suicidal thoughts during the first several months of treatment, or whenever your dose is changed.
FDA pregnancy category D. Valproic acid can cause birth defects. Do not start taking valproic acid without telling your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Use effective birth control while you are taking valproic acid.
Valproic acid may also affect cognitive development in children born to mothers who take this medication during pregnancy. Studies have shown that these children may score lower on cognitive tests (reasoning, intelligence, and problem-solving) than children whose mothers took other seizure medications during pregnancy.
Although valproic acid may harm an unborn baby, having a seizure during pregnancy could harm both mother and baby. If you become pregnant while taking valproic acid, do not stop taking the medicine without your doctor's advice.
Seizure control is very important during pregnancy. The benefit of preventing seizures may outweigh any risks posed by taking valproic acid. There may be other seizure medications that can be more safely used during pregnancy. Follow your doctor's instructions about taking valproic acid while you are pregnant.
Valproic acid can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using valproic acid.
How should I take valproic acid (Depakene, Stavzor)?
Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Drink plenty of water while you are taking this medication. Your dose may need to be changed if you do not get enough fluids each day.
Measure liquid medicine with a special dose measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your liver function will need to be tested often. Visit your doctor regularly.
Do not stop using valproic acid without first talking to your doctor, even if you feel fine. You may have increased seizures if you stop using valproic acid suddenly. You may need to use less and less before you stop the medication completely.
Swallow the capsule whole. Do not crush, chew, or break a capsule because the medicine may irritate your mouth or throat when you swallow it.
Wear a medical alert tag or carry an ID card stating that you take valproic acid. Any medical care provider who treats you should know that you are taking a seizure medication.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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