Since 1983, doctors have prescribed Depakote in the United States to treat patients with epilepsy. Approximately two million Americans have some form of epilepsy, and 125,000 new cases of epilepsy are reported each year. Abbott Laboratories, who manufactures Depakote, known as divalproex or valproic acid is also prescribed as a mood stabilizer for patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Doctors also prescribe Depakote to patients who suffer from migraines.
Depakote extended release tablets, known as Depakote ER, should be swallowed whole once daily with or without food. The tablets should not be crushed or chewed. Depakote ER is available in tablet form in two different dosage strengths so that your doctor can choose the appropriate strength for each patient.
Depakote tablets are administered orally for bipolar disorder, specifically mania. The recommended initial dose is 750 mg daily in divided doses. The dose should be increased as rapidly as possible to achieve the lowest therapeutic dose which produces the desired clinical effect.
Patients suffering from epilepsy should initiate therapy at 10 to 15 mg/kg/day. The dosage should be increased by 5 to 10 mg/kg/week to achieve optimal clinical response. Ordinarily, optimal clinical response is achieved at daily doses below 60 mg/kg/day.
Doctors prescribe Depakote tablets orally for treatment of migraine headaches in adults. The recommended starting dose is 250 mg twice daily. Some patients may benefit from doses up to 1000 mg/day.
In 1995, the FDA approved Depakote ER for the treatment of acute manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder, with or without psychotic features. The FDA first approved Depakote for treating seizures in adults and children 10 years of age or older. Later, the FDA approved Depakote for use in treating migraine headaches in adults.
Some of the side effects you may experience with Depakote ER are drowsiness, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, low platelet count, tremors, tiredness, and hair loss.
Doctors should check liver function in patients before prescribing this medication. Notify your doctor immediately if you develop malaise (illness), weakness, tiredness, facial swelling, loss of appetite or vomiting. Doctors are also urged to monitor Depakote users for symptoms that lead to liver toxicity.
Valproate products should not be prescribed to patients with hepatic disease or significant hepatic dysfunction – liver disease. Hepatic failure resulting in fatalities has occurred in patients receiving valproic acid and its derivatives, usually during the first six months of treatment. Pregnant women should refrain from using Depakote as valproate may produce teratogenic effects in the offspring of women receiving the drug during pregnancy.
What should I avoid while taking Depakote?
Patients should avoid drinking alcohol while taking Depakote because it can increase the effects of alcohol and lead to significant drowsiness. Alcohol consumption while taking Depakote may also increase your risk of developing liver problems. Also, avoid using illegal drugs while taking Depakote because they may counteract Depakote’s effect and increase your risk of developing seizures. As Depakote may cause drowsiness, make sure you know how it will affect you before you begin driving or operating any machinery.
Does Depakote cause birth defects?
The FDA released reports concluding that the use of Depakote (valproic acid) during the first trimester of pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk of spinal cord defects (e.g., spina bifida) in the fetus. Bleeding and liver problems, as well as other birth defects have been reported too. If you are already pregnant and on valproic acid, call your doctor immediately to discuss your options as quickly stopping valproic acid may lead to harmful effects such as seizures.
Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Depakote?
Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional distress
If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Depakote, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Depakote lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.