valproic acid

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Depakene, |valproic acid

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valproic acid

Generic Name: valproic acid (val PRO ik A sid)
Brand Names: Depakene

What is valproic acid?

Valproic acid affects chemicals in the body that may be involved in causing seizures.

Valproic acid is used to treat various types of seizure disorders. Valproic acid is sometimes used together with other seizure medications.

Valproic acid may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about valproic acid?

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.

Seek emergency medical attention if the person taking this medicine has nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, or loss of appetite, low fever, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). These symptoms may be early signs of liver damage. Some of these symptoms may also be early signs of pancreatitis. Valproic acid can cause birth defects. Do not use this medication without your doctor"s consent if you are pregnant. It could cause harm to the unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment. Do not stop taking the medication even if you feel better. It is important to take valproic acid regularly to prevent seizures from recurring. Call your doctor promptly if this medicine does not seem to be working as well in preventing your seizures. 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. Carry an ID card or wear a medical alert bracelet stating that you are taking valproic acid, in case of emergency. Any doctor, dentist, or emergency medical care provider who treats you should know that you are taking valproic acid.

Avoid using other drugs that make you sleepy (such as other seizure medicines, alcohol, cold medicine, pain medication, muscle relaxers, and medicine for depression or anxiety). They can add to sleepiness caused by valproic acid.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking valproic acid?

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.

Before taking valproic acid, tell your doctor if you have:

  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder;

  • a history of head injury, brain disorder, or coma;

  • a family history of a urea cycle disorder;

  • a family history of infant deaths with unknown cause; or

  • HIV or CMV (cytomegalovirus) infection.

If you have any of these conditions, you may not be able to use valproic acid, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.

FDA pregnancy category D. This medication can cause harm to an unborn baby. Do not use valproic acid without your doctor"s consent if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment. Valproic acid can cause birth defects. Use an effective form of birth control while you are using this medication. Valproic acid passes into breast milk and could harm a nursing infant. Do not take valproic acid without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. Valproic acid should not be given to a child younger than 2 years of age without a doctor"s consent. Older adults may be more sensitive to sleepiness caused by this medicine.

How should I take valproic acid?

Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor.

Take each dose with a full glass of water. 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 the liquid form of valproic acid with a special dose-measuring spoon or cup, not a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist where you can get one.

To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your liver function will need to be tested. It is important that you not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.

Do not stop taking the medication even if you feel better. It is important to take valproic acid regularly to prevent seizures from recurring. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely. Call your doctor promptly if this medicine does not seem to be working as well in preventing your seizures. 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.

Carry an ID card or wear a medical alert bracelet stating that you are taking valproic acid, in case of emergency. Any doctor, dentist, or emergency medical care provider who treats you should know that you are taking valproic acid.

Store valproic acid at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.

Symptoms of a valproic acid overdose may include sleepiness or drowsiness, shallow breathing, weak pulse, or loss of consciousness.

What should I avoid while taking valproic acid?

Avoid drinking alcohol, which can increase some of the side effects of valproic acid.

Avoid using other medicines that make you sleepy (such as cold medicine, pain medication, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures, depression or anxiety). They can add to sleepiness caused by valproic acid.

Valproic acid can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert. Avoid exposure to sunlight or artificial UV rays (sunlamps or tanning beds). Valproic acid can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and sunburn may result. Use a sunscreen (minimum SPF 15) and wear protective clothing if you must be out in the sun.

Valproic acid side effects

Seek emergency medical attention if the person taking this medicine has nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, or loss of appetite, low fever, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). These symptoms may be early signs of liver damage. Some of these symptoms may also be early signs of pancreatitis. Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
  • unexplained weakness with vomiting and confusion or fainting;

  • easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness;

  • fever, skin rash, swollen glands;

  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;

  • urinating less than usual;

  • blood in your urine;

  • hallucinations (seeing things that aren"t there);

  • weakness, lack of coordination;

  • a red, blistering, peeling skin rash;

  • extreme drowsiness;

  • unusual bleeding or bruising; or

  • double vision or back-and-forth movements of the eyes.

Continue using valproic acid and talk with your doctor if you have any of these less serious side effects:

  • drowsiness or weakness;

  • diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach;

  • depression, anxiety, or other emotional changes;

  • changes in your menstrual periods;

  • enlarged breasts;

  • tremor (shaking);

  • hair loss;

  • weight changes;

  • a red, blistering, peeling skin rash;

  • vision changes; or

  • unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect valproic acid?

Before taking valproic acid, tell your doctor if you are using any of the following drugs:

  • topiramate (Topamax);

  • tolbutamide (Orinase);

  • a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin);

  • aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol);

  • zidovudine (Retrovir);

  • clozapine (Clozaril, Fazaclo);

  • diazepam (Valium);

  • meropenem (Merrem);

  • rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane, Rifater);

  • ethosuximide (Zarontin); or

  • another seizure medicine such as phenytoin (Dilantin), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol), phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton), felbamate (Felbatol), lamotrigine (Lamictal), or clonazepam (Klonopin).

If you are using any of these drugs, you may not be able to use valproic acid, or you may need dosage adjustments or special tests during treatment.

There may be other drugs not listed that can affect valproic acid. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist has additional information about valproic acid written for health professionals that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Valproic acid is available with a prescription under the brand name Depakene in 250 mg capsules and as a syrup. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Depakene 250 mg--oval, orange, soft-gelatin capsules

  • Depakene Syrup 250 mg per 5 mL (1 teaspoon)--red syrup

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ("Multum") is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum"s drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum"s drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 6.03. Revision Date: 12/28/06 5:17:50 PM.



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