A March 2008 FDA patient safety news bulletin reiterated warnings to healthcare professionals about dangerous and possibly fatal skin reactions to the drug carbamazepine in certain patient populations. Reactions include Stevens Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis.

The FDA report states these skin reactions are significantly more common in patients with a particular human leukocyte antigen allele called HLA-B*1502. This allele occurs almost exclusively in people with Asian ancestry, including South Asian Indians. The FDA advises patients with this ancestry should be screened for the HLA-B*1502 allele before starting treatment with carbamazepine.

Carbamazepine is an inticonvulsant used to treat epilepsy, as well as mania/bipolar disorder and neuropathic pain. This drug is sold under the trade names Carbatrol, Equetro and Tegretol, and also as a generic.

If test results are positive, the FDA warns the drug should not be started unless the expected benefit clearly outweighs the risk of serious skin reactions.

Patients who test negative for HLA-B*1502 have a low risk of developing serious skin reactions from carbamazepine, but these reactions can still occur, although rarely, so healthcare professionals should watch for symptoms in any patient taking this drug.

More than 90 percent of all serious skin reactions will occur within the first few months of treatment. After that time, risk of developing these skin reactions is low.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Stevens Johnson Syndrome or suffered a serious side effect associated with SJS, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us today!

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