(HealthDay News) – About one in five neurologists in the United States are not aware of recent warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding anti-epileptic drugs, according to a study published in the October issue of Epilepsy & Behavior.

Sarah G. Bell, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues surveyed 505 neurologists in 2012 about their knowledge of recent safety warnings from the FDA regarding anti-epileptic drugs.

The researchers found that about 20% of neurologists did not know about the greater risk of suicide with newer drugs, the greater risk of birth defects and impaired cognitive development from in utero divalproex exposure, and the requirement of haplotype screening in patients of Asian descent starting treatment with carbamazepine because of the increased risk of serious hypersensitivity reactions. Although neurologists reported learning about drug safety risks from multiple sources, only notifications from specialty organizations were associated with accurate knowledge of drug safety warnings.

Neurologists frequently “expressed a preference for a formal drug safety warning process directed by specialty organizations,” Bell and colleagues write. “Whether a revised drug safety notification system could be devised to improve knowledge among the approximately 20% of neurologists who do not recognize important safety risks despite reporting exposure to multiple sources for drug information remains to be determined.”

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