helpline 01494 601 400
5 September 2015

Better treatment for drug resistant epilepsy

People whose seizures do not respond to medication are being denied alternative treatments because of economic factors, epilepsy experts told delegates at the 31st International Epilepsy Congress in Istanbul.

Many people worldwide with continuing seizures could potentially benefit from treatments such as vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and deep brain stimulation (DBS), but some governments refuse to invest in these therapies said Philippe Ryvlin, professor of neurology from Switzerland.

‘There are many forms of neurostimulation that could offer a reduction in seizure frequency and severity for those with drug resistant epilepsy,’ he told delegates, ‘but it all comes down to cost effectiveness.’

James Wheless, neurologist from the US agreed: ‘We all know that VNS, like epilepsy surgery, comes at a high cost, but ultimately it could save the system money. You have to pay up front and then save money further down the road.’

Ongoing seizures

Speaking at a symposium on drug resistant epilepsy, the experts told delegates that not enough was being done to address the high number of people who live with ongoing seizures. While evidence shows that 70 per cent of people should be seizure free with medication, the reality is that only 52 per cent have their seizures controlled.

Anxiety and depression

Chair of the symposium, Professor Paul Boon from Belgium, stressed that seizures were not benign events. 'They can lead to accompanying conditions such as anxiety,depression and increased risk of premature mortality. People experience seizure related injuries, impaired ability to establish families, inability to drive and with hospital admissions there are increased healthcare costs.

'For those with drug resistant epilepsy, we must optimise their seizure control, minimise side effects and maximise quality of life. Treatment options such as neurostimulation exist for these people  and could help to close the treatment gap.'

Take part in Epilepsy Society's research survey and help us to decide the future direction of our research.