DSUK statement on use of sodium valproate in Dravet Syndrome

Posted 22nd April 2022 in News

DSUK statement on use of sodium valproate in Dravet Syndrome

Further to recent news reports regarding concerns about the prescription of sodium valproate to women and girls of child-bearing age, please find below our statement clarifying the benefits and risks associated with sodium valproate specifically for individuals with a diagnosis of Dravet Syndrome, a complex genetic epilepsy that also encompasses learning disability and a spectrum of associated neurodevelopmental conditions, including autism, ADHD, challenging behaviour and difficulties with mobility, speech, feeding and sleep.  

"Sodium valproate is currently recommended as a first-line treatment for people with a confirmed diagnosis of Dravet Syndrome, due the severity of this complex and highly treatment-resistant form of epilepsy and the lack of evidence for other effective first-line treatment options. As Dravet Syndrome first presents in early childhood, sodium valproate is likely to be initiated when the patient is still very young, and risk benefit will continue to be evaluated. In addition, the neurodevelopmental aspects of Dravet Syndrome mean that pregnancy is highly uncommon in those with this condition.

Therefore, on balance, the potential benefits of sodium valproate remain likely to outweigh the risks for most individuals with a diagnosis of Dravet Syndrome. 
However, it remains important that sodium valproate is only prescribed to women and girls of child-bearing age after a full and clear discussion involving the clinician, caregiver and individual with Dravet Syndrome, ensuring that caregivers understand all the potential risks and benefits involved. This discussion is important even if the likelihood of pregnancy appears low.”

This statement was developed with guidance from DSUK’s Medical Advisory Board, chaired by Professor Helen Cross. As with any medical guidance it is important to consult with your clinician before starting, stopping or changing individual treatment plans.