MHRA Update on Valproate
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has announced that they are updating their recommendations on the use of valproate (also known as Epilim and Depakote). Valproate is a medication used to treat bipolar disorder and epilepsy.
What will change?
The MHRA and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are still developing details of how any changes will be implemented. But they will include the following recommendations:
If you’re currently taking valproate, your doctor should have a medication review with you to consider whether you can have a different treatment instead. This recommendation hasn’t been implemented yet. If you’re taking valproate, you should continue taking it unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Valproate should no longer be prescribed to new patients under the age of 55, unless two independent health professionals agree that there is no other effective treatment that you can take.
Why are the changes being made?
For many years, there have been warnings that taking valproate while you are pregnant increases the risks of your child being born with birth defects. You should only be prescribed valproate if you are on a pregnancy prevention programme to make sure you won't become pregnant.
But the MHRA is concerned that valproate isn’t always being prescribed safely. And some research suggests there may be some risk to fertility in males. The MHRA is making these changes as a precautionary measure to try and prevent these risks.
What does this mean for me?
If you’re currently talking valproate, it’s very important that you continue to take your medication unless your doctor tells you otherwise. If you stop taking valproate suddenly, or without advice from your doctor, it can be very dangerous.
If you are taking valproate and think you could be pregnant, visit your doctor as soon as you can. You can discuss your options with them, including other medications that might be available.
The MHRA is still developing a timeframe for these changes, so you don’t need to do anything else yet.
It is completely understandable to be worried about how these changes will affect you. If you have any questions about your medication, you could speak to your doctor or pharmacist for advice. You can also find out more about these upcoming changes on the MHRA website. We will continue to share updates on these changes as we receive them.Medication - general