Precautions and Warnings With Delayed Release Valproic Acid
Talk to your healthcare provider about the precautions and warnings with delayed release valproic acid before starting the drug to help minimize risks and ensure safe treatment. You should not take this medication if you have a urea cycle disorder or liver disease. It is important to know that delayed release valproic acid can cause liver failure, pancreatitis, and low platelets in the blood.
You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking delayed release valproic acid (Stavzor™) if you have:
- A urea cycle disorder
- Mental retardation
- Liver disease, such as liver failure or cirrhosis
- A blood disorder
- Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you:
- Are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
- Are breastfeeding
- Smoke cigarettes.
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking delayed release valproic acid include the following:
- You should not take this drug if you have liver disease. Also, you should not take delayed release valproic acid if you have a urea cycle disorder (a problem with the enzymes that clear ammonia from the body, leading to high ammonia levels in the blood), as the drug may worsen this condition. You should be evaluated for a urea cycle disorder if you have a history of:
- A brain disease or problem associated with pregnancy
- Unexplained brain disease or problems
- Unexplained mental retardation
- High ammonia levels in your blood
- Vomiting and lethargy that comes and goes regularly.
- There have been cases of liver failure caused by delayed release valproic acid. Children under two years old are at especially high risk, especially children with mental retardation, brain damage or disease, or certain other health problems. Delayed release valproic acid is not approved for children under 10 years old and should rarely be used in young children, due to the risk of liver damage.
- As with all seizure medications, delayed release valproic acid should not be stopped suddenly, as this may increase the risk of seizures.
- Delayed release valproic acid can cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), which may be very dangerous. Let your healthcare provider know immediately if you have any signs of pancreatitis, including:
- Severe abdominal pain (stomach pain)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite.
- Seizure medications, including delayed release valproic acid, may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior. Let your healthcare provider know immediately if you feel depressed or have any suicidal thoughts (see Seizure Medications and Suicide for more information).
- Elderly people may be more sensitive to delayed release valproic acid side effects, such as drowsiness. If you are elderly and take delayed release valproic acid, your healthcare provider should monitor you more closely.
- Delayed release valproic acid can cause low platelets in the blood (thrombocytopenia). Tell your healthcare provider if you have any unusual bruises or bleeding.
- Let your healthcare provider know right away if you have a rash along with a fever or any other symptoms, as this may be a sign of a dangerous allergic reaction.
- Delayed release valproic acid can interact with other medications (see Drug Interactions With Delayed Release Valproic Acid).
- Delayed release valproic acid is considered a pregnancy Category D medication when used for the treatment of epilepsy or bipolar disorder. This means that it is probably not safe for pregnant women in these situations. It is considered a pregnancy Category X medication when used for the prevention of migraine headaches. This means that the risks of taking this medication during pregnancy clearly outweigh the benefits in this situation.
Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of taking the drug during pregnancy (see Stavzor and Pregnancy).
- Delayed release valproic acid passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Stavzor and Breastfeeding).