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Löscher W, ed. ($185.00.) Birkhäuser, 1999. ISBN 376435836.
Valproate has been the subject of over 5000 publications. It was discovered accidentally: it was used as a vehicle for some water insoluble compounds under investigation and found to have an independent anticonvulsant effect. The first clinical reports appeared in 1964. It can justifiably claim its place in the “milestones in drug therapy” series.
This book fulfils the main purpose of a monograph. The development, pharmacology, use, and side effects of this drug are all well covered and extensively referenced. Anyone wishing information on valproate would be unlucky indeed not to find it within these covers.
If I have a criticism it would be that the editor has not been strict enough with his contributors. Thus—for example, the chapter on toxicity contains much of the same information as the chapter on side effects, and the information on liver damage can be found in several places elsewhere in the book. Some contributions need pruning. The chapter on the use of valproate in children was twice as long as that in adults, which was fine except that much of the paediatric chapter was taken up with a description of different paediatric epilepsy syndromes; interesting and important information but not directly relevant. The length of the chapter on the use of sodium valproate in headache (20 pages) seems disproportionate in that there are only four double blind, placebo controlled trials in the use of this drug in migraine.
However, these minor criticisms do not detract from the value of this useful book, which should find its place in pharmacology departments and neurology libraries.
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