NHS releases two Decision Support Tools for valproate for epilepsy and bipolar disorder
These latest tools have been produced as part of an NHS-wide effort to reduce the use of valproate in people who can get pregnant, and to help those that do continue with valproate to prevent pregnancies.
‘Bipolar disorder – is valproate the right treatment for me?’
‘Is valproate the right epilepsy treatment for me?’
NHS England have released two decision support tools to help with these questions.
Over recent years, there have been many safety updates regarding the use of valproate in women of childbearing potential, because of the risk of physical defects and neurodevelopment disorders in babies. These latest tools have been produced as part of an NHS-wide effort to reduce the use of valproate in people who can get pregnant, and to help those that do continue with valproate to prevent pregnancies.
Consisting of two short documents, with information broken down into easy-to-follow graphics and charts, the tools are designed to help patients understand the risks and benefits of valproate and support them to start or continue taking it. They are for women, girls and anyone who could become pregnant, aged between 12 – 55, considering or taking valproate for epilepsy or bipolar disorder.
It is important to note that patients are advised not to make any changes to their treatment, including valproate, without first discussing it with a healthcare professional that knows them and their condition.
Both valproate Decision Support Tools include:
- A flowchart to advise actions if there is the potential for pregnancy
- A sliding scale tool to help the patient establish what is important to them in making a decision
- Tables showing potential benefits and harms for the patient and baby
- Statistics for how effective different forms of contraception are
Access the support tools for valproate for epilepsy and bipolar disorder here:
It is vital that healthcare staff know the safety guidelines concerning the use of valproate in women, and Ashtons can provide a useful training seminar on valproate and pregnancy. The short course (approx. 30mins) is suitable for doctors and nurses and covers previous safety alerts, and advice and resources for healthcare professionals. Please ask your visiting pharmacist for further details about the course and to arrange a training session. Or. if you are not currently an Ashtons client please contact us to find out more about the training we provide.