After medicine is swallowed, it must be absorbed into the blood so it can move throughout the body. The process of absorbing, digesting, and excreting a medicine or food is called metabolism. The way the body metabolizes a particular medicine affects how often it must be taken. It also determines whether it will interact with other medicines or be affected by conditions such as liver disease.
Depakote ER tablets use special coatings to release the medicine over a longer time than regular Depakote. After the outside film coating dissolves in the stomach, the outer layer of the tablet's contents begins to absorb fluid. It forms a layer of gel that releases the medicine slowly.
The highest level of medicine in the blood is reached in 7 to 14 hours after Depakote ER is taken. The highest levels are not as high as with regular Depakote, and the lowest levels are not as low. This difference may reduce side effects at the highest levels and improve seizure control when the levels are lowest.
If the same amount is taken, the body absorbs only about 89% as much medication from Depakote ER as from regular Depakote. This means that most people who change from regular Depakote to Depakote ER need to take a slightly higher amount each day to have the same effect.
Like many other medicines, Depakote ER is broken down (digested) in the liver. People with liver disease should not take it. Anyone who also takes other medicines that are digested in the liver need to be careful. How well each medicine works and how quickly it leaves the body may be changed.
This is why the doctor needs to know about everything that a person takes—not just prescription medicines but even things like vitamins, herbs, and aspirin! These things can affect how much Depakote ER the doctor prescribes.
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