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Newer epilepsy drugs 'disappointing' on reducing seizure risk

Newer agents used as adjunctive therapies to treat epilepsy have not had a substantial impact on preventing seizures over the last decade, a new study suggests.

The researchers analysed patients registered at the Western Infirmary Epilepsy Unit in Glasgow, and found the percentage of patients who required combination drug therapy to keep them seizure-free had changed only marginally between 2000 and 2010.

Among, 332 patients analysed in 2000, 86.4% required two anti-epileptic drugs, and this dropped just slightly to 81.3% of 486 patients in 2010. Of patients who required three drugs, 12.7% were seizure-free in 2000, and this rose slightly to 17.5% in 2010. Levetiracetam and topiramate were the newer agents most commonly represented in successful combinations.

The findings suggested that drug substitution rather than addition was the reason behind the marginally improved results.

Dr Linda Stephen, one of the researchers, and deputy director of Western Infirmary Epilepsy Unit, said: ‘In the last decade when used as adjunctive therapies, newer agents appear not to have had a substantial impact on the likelihood of producing seizure freedom.'

'An alternative approach to anti-epileptic drug development may be required to change this disappointing scenario.'

Epilepsy Research 2011, online 5 October

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