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Medications can reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in most epileptic patients, but between 15- and 25-percent continue to suffer seizures. Fortunately there are several experimental drugs now in clinical trials that may treat even the most stubborn seizures, one of which could be available within two years, scientists told a recent international meeting of epilepsy experts in San Diego.
The furthest along the pipeline is called lacosamide. Data from the final phase of a clinical trial in 500 patients from 12 European countries and Australia showed 41 percent of patients taking the drug for one month had 50 percent fewer seizures compared to patients receiving a placebo drug. Lacosamide was well-tolerated and demonstrated little potential for interacting with other medications. Depending on the FDA approval process, the drug could become available later this year or in 2008, the researchers say.
“Being seizure-free is of tremendous importance to patients,” says Gregory Barkley, M.D., clinical vice chairman of the department of neurology at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. “In Michigan, if you have one seizure, you can't drive an automobile for six months. That has a terrific impact on a person's quality of life. That's why reducing the number of seizures—while important to the patient's health—is still far from being seizure-free.”