Medication management in HIV/AIDS patients can be extremely complex due to issues surrounding medication non-adherence, polypharmacy, and drug interactions. Communication among healthcare providers therefore is critical in ensuring patient safety.
The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) recently released a guideline advising neurologists to select anti-epileptic agents for HIV/AIDS patients with caution. Jomy M. George, PharmD, BCPS, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy at USciences’ Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, co-authored the guideline published in the Jan. 4, 2012, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, and in Epilepsia, the journal of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE).
Dr. George’s work assists in narrowing the communication gap between neurologists and HIV practitioners. The guideline aims to address many of the risks involved in prescribing certain anti-retroviral drugs in conjunction with anti-epileptic medications. Drug interactions of this magnitude can not only result in drug toxicity, but they could also jeopardize the clinical efficacy of both anti-retrovirals and anti-epileptics. Although the guidelines will make a profound impact in the U.S., they will also reach globally, helping resource-limited countries with fewer medicinal options.
“It is a public health issue in my mind because it’s about the safety of the patient at the end of the day,” Dr. George explained.
As an infectious disease pharmacy specialist, Dr. George is well-versed in drug interactions involving anti-retrovirals. She was involved with the guideline development from its inception and collaborated with an expert panel of neurologists and HIV specialists to review available evidence on the concomitant use of anti-epileptic drugs and anti-retrovirals.
Working with a multi-disciplinary team of well renowned professionals who had a common goal to increase public awareness of the potential risks in prescribing these classes of drugs together was both personally and professionally gratifying to Dr. George. She finds it nice to say that what she does goes beyond the USciences classroom.