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04/02/2016

Studies expose efficacy of two widely-prescribed epilepsy drugs

Two separate studies have analysed the benefits and side-effects of two antiepileptic drugs, rufinamide and retigabine.

Scientists from China's Zhejiang Chinese Medical University analysed existing controlled trials and found that rufinamide was more effective than a placebo, but was linked to dose-size and seizure type.  The drug was also found to have increased adverse side effects, none of which were considered serious. 

The researchers concluded:  “This study confirmed significant effects of rufinamide as adjunctive treatment (given in addition to a primary treatment) for drug-resistant seizures, both partial and tonic-atonic. However, rufinamide may induce more tolerable (but not severe) adverse events.”

Rufinamide is approved as an add-on therapy for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and is sold under the brand name Inovelon.

A separate study in Germany has highlighted the positive and negative elements linked to the use of the drug retigabine.

The research, led by University Hospital Bonn, assessed the clinical efficacy and adverse events associated with the use of retigabine in adults with refractory focal epilepsy.

Data showed that retigabine reduced seizure frequency or severity in 24.6 per cent of subjects and led to seizure-freedom in 2.1 per cent.

However, the drug had no apparent effect in 43.1 per cent of the group, and it was linked to seizure aggravation in 14.9 per cent. In addition, adverse events were reported by 76 per cent of the subjects, and three cases of  suspected sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) occurred during the observation period.

The researchers concluded: “Our observational study suggests that retigabine leads to good seizure control in a small number of patients with treatment-refractory seizures. However, because of the rather high percentage of patients who experienced significant adverse events, we consider retigabine as a drug of reserve.”

Retigabine is the first potassium channel-opening drug approved for the adjunctive treatment  of focal epilepsies.<