Research Article

Reduction in polypharmacy for epilepsy.

Br Med J 1979; 2 doi: (Published 27 October 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;2:1023
  1. S D Shorvon,
  2. E H Reynolds


    A two-year prospective study of 40 adult outpatients with chronic epilepsy was carried out in which blood drug concentrations were monitored, and anticonvulsant polypharmacy was reduced to treatment with a single drug in 29 patients (72%). In the year after the reduction of treatment the control of seizures was improved in 16 patients (55%), unchanged in eight(28%), and worse in five (17%). Mental function was improved in 16 (55%). The main reason for failure to reduce to or maintain treatment with a single drug was exacerbation of seizures during the difficult withdrawal period, especially in patients with frequent seizures, taking several drugs, or with additional neuropsychological handicaps. It is more difficult to reduce polypharmacy than to avoid it in the first place. Polypharmacy may sometimes aggravate control of seizures.