[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent concerns regarding antiepileptic drug (AED) availability in Zambia led us to conduct a study in the Lusaka and Southern Provinces to quantify the availability and cost of AEDs and assess determinants. Among 111 pharmacies, almost one-half did not carry AEDs (N = 54; 49.1%). Available AEDs were phenobarbitone (21; 18.9%), carbamazepine (27; 24.3%), valproic acid (4; 3.6%), and phenytoin (3; 2.7%). Adult out-of-pocket monthly costs ranged from US $7 to $30. Pediatric syrups were universally unavailable. Interviews revealed several barriers to AED provision, including that handling phenobarbitone (historically the most affordable AED) has become increasingly difficult because of newly enforced regulatory requirements. Personal communications with epilepsy-care providers in other low income countries suggest that this problem may be widespread. Improved enforcement of existing drug regulations may be contributing to the AED shortage. Social programs aimed at encouraging people with epilepsy to come "out of the shadows" must be preceded by improved AED access.
Preview · Article · Sep 2010 · The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene