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Health authorities have just published a point concerning lamotrigine (Lamictal®), a drug used against epilepsy and bipolar disorders. Some serious side effects could lead to death. Our explanations.

Lamotrigine is an anti-epileptic drug that works by preventing the release of glutamate in the brain – indeed, this molecule is involved in triggering epileptic seizures.

Lamotrigine can thus be prescribed to epileptic patients from the age of 2 years, and in particular to those who suffer from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (a rare epileptic syndrome which mainly affects children).

Lamotrigine is also indicated in bipolar patients: more specifically, doctors use this drug to prevent depressive episodes in case of bipolar 1 disorder.

Lamotrigine and side effects: symptoms to worry about

In pharmacies, lamotrigine is not available over the counter: you need a doctor’s prescription. The main drug that contains lamotrigine is Lamictal®.

Lamotrigine is a drug that has contraindications (breastfeeding women cannot take it, in particular) and side effects (most often: skin reactions).

Precisely: in an information point published this Monday, July 3, 2023, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) alerts to the “risk of serious skin rash especially at the start of treatment“.

During the first two months of treatment with lamotrigine, health authorities point out that symptoms may appear: “rash or redness, fever, flu-like symptoms, swollen face, lumps appearing, mouth or eye irritation, unexpected bruising or bleeding [et/ou] sore throat“.

I am taking lamotrigine: what should I do?

These symptoms can eventually progress to something more serious: Stevens-Johnson syndrome, Lyell syndrome (or toxic epidermal necrolysis) or Dress (drug hypersensitivity syndrome with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms). In very rare cases, this can lead to the death of the patient.

Note: this risk is greater in patients who also take valproic acid or its derivatives (valpromide, divalproate).

Have you just started treatment with lamotrigine? Above all, do not stop your medication without medical advice. If you observe an abnormal symptom (pimples or red patches on the skin, fever, a swollen face, itchy eyes or mouth, bruises that appear for no reason…), make an appointment immediately see your doctor or go to the emergency room.

Source : ANSM press release

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