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Diprivan for Seizures Linked to Cardiac Arrest, Deaths

Oct 31, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Diprivan, a drug given to stop prolonged epileptic seizures, may put patients at a higher risk of cardiac arrest and deaths, a new study says.  

Diprivan, known generically as propofol, is commonly given in lower doses as a sedative during surgery.  However,  Diprivan has been used for many years to stop seizures in people with refractory status epilepticus, or RSE, a condition in which people fail to respond to two more commonly used drug. RSE seizures can cause permanent brain damage.

For this Diprivan study, researchers at the Mayo Clinic studied records of 41 consecutive patients with refractory status epilepticus from 1997 to 2007 who were admitted to the intensive care unit with RSE. Thirty-one were treated with Diprivan, while 10 got other drugs.

Of the 31 Diprivan patients, three suffered cardiac arrest and one died.  Those who had a cardiac arrest were given a higher dose of the drug than other seizure patients in the study.

One of the lead researchers on the study told Reuters that they believed the problems were the result of drug toxicity.  "When we looked at the charts, there was no explanation other than propofol to explain why they ended up with cardiac arrest," Dr. Vivek Iyer said in a telephone interview.

According to Reuters, the Mayo Clinic no longer uses Diprivan to treat RSE patients.

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