The manufacturer of carbamazepine (Tegretol) updated the drug’s summary of product characteristics:

‘Before deciding to initiate treatment, patients of Han Chinese and Thai origin should whenever possible be screened for HLA-B*1502 as this allele strongly predicts the risk of severe carbamazepine-associated Stevens-Johnson syndrome’

Health Canada warned in March 2008 about carbamazepine’s side effects in an advisory;Patients of Asian Ancestry using Epilepsy Drug Carbamazepine may be at Increased Risk of Serious Skin Reactions:

“Serious and sometimes fatal skin reactions known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) have been known to occur very rarely with carbamazepine. While all patients treated with carbamazepine are at risk for these serious skin reactions, the risk is approximately 10 times higher in Asian countries than in Western countries. In addition, studies have suggested that patients of Asian ancestry may also be at increased risk if they take carbamazepine.”

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