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Noncompliance with Epilepsy Medication is Concerning


A study conducted by researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has found that medication adherence among children with newly diagnosed epilepsy is poor, and that a lower socioeconomic status was correlated with higher rates of noncompliance.

Avani C. Modi PhD, an assistant professor of pediatrics, and colleagues studied 124 children, ages 2 to 12 years, for the first six months of epilepsy therapy. Adherence was measured electronically with a system in which the cap of the medication bottle contained a microelectronic circuit to register the date and time that the bottle was opened and closed. Compliance to medication was evaluated and grouped into 5 categories, based on severity of non-adherence.

Poorer Families Less Likely to Adhere to Medication Schedule

During the first six months of therapy, 58 percent of epileptic children – or nearly 3 of every 5 - demonstrated persistent non-adherence in taking their medications to control seizures. The authors write that adherence patterns generally were established within the first month and that socioeconomic status was the sole predictor of compliance – lower socioeconomic status was associated with higher non-adherence.

The researchers said it was not clear whether lower socioeconomic status meant families could not afford their child's medications, or if they were simply more likely to forget to give the medication to their child. Some parents may think that the risk of the drug outweighs the benefits or may even be in denial of the child’s medical condition.

Read: Epilepsy Cost Sometimes Overlooked

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Epilepsy is a brain disorder involving repeated, spontaneous seizures – episodes of disturbed brain function that cause changes in attention or behavior. It affects about 325,000 children younger than 15 in the United States.

Oral medications called anticonvulsants may reduce the number of seizures. Common name brands include Depakote and Trileptal. Dr. Modi and colleagues note that noncompliance with these medications is “concerning” and suggests that a study to identify barriers to taking medications and to develop intervention plans is critically needed.

Read: New Epilepsy Drug May Significantly Reduce Seizures

One message to parents is to develop a medicine-taking schedule early. Because the pattern of medication administration is established during the first month of treatment, a routine increases the chance of adherence, notes Dr. Modi.

The study is published in the April 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

JAMA. 2011;305[16]1669-1676.
Patterns of Nonadherence to Antiepileptic Drug Therapy in Children With Newly Diagnosed Epilepsy, Avani C. Modi, Joseph R. Rausch, Tracy A. Glauser