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11th December 2018

Anti-epileptic drug brivaracetam is now available for children in Scotland

Children aged four years and older in Scotland will have access to an anti-epileptic drug (AED) brivaracetam as a new treatment option. Pharmaceutical company UCB announced on 10 December that the Scottish Medicines Consortium has accepted expanding the use of the drug.

This will be an accompanying therapy for partial-onset seizures. It provides an additional treatment option for paediatrics aged four to sixteen with uncontrolled epilepsy.

Brivaracetam works by targeting a specific glycoprotein on fluid sacs in the brain. This is thought to prevent the neurotransmitter release, stopping the signals that are responsible for the seizures. However, research is continuing to confirm this.

The use of the drug in the four to sixteen year age group is supported by evidence from placebo-controlled partial-onset seizure studies of brivaracetam in adults with additional open-label safety studies age four to less than sixteen years old.

Partial-onset seizures in paediatric patients aged four to sixteen years old are similar to those in adults and a similar AED exposure-response relationship has been shown.

The AED was already authorised for use in children aged four and older across Europe following the European Medicine Agency (EMA) authorisation in July 2018 and was previously licensed for use in adults in January 2016.

Previously, brivaracetam was only available in Scotland for people aged 16 and over. The license extension of the drug marks an important step forward for the management of paediatric epilepsy in Scotland.

Laura Byram, Ecosystem Head of Neurology at UCB, said: "The acceptance of brivaracetam for children aged four to sixteen in NHS Scotland is an important step forward for the management of paediatric epilepsy, a condition which can present significant challenges to children and their families."

Currently, just over half of epilepsy patients (52%) are seizure free when an additional 18% could be free from seizure with suitable treatment.

In Scotland, approximately 54,000 people are living with epilepsy, with epilepsy being one of the most common serious neurological conditions in children globally.

One in every 220 children in the UK will have a diagnosis of epilepsy, averaging at one child in every primary school and five in every secondary school.

Lesslie Young, Chief Executive at Epilepsy Scotland, said: "Epilepsy is one of the most common serious neurological conditions. Its impact on the person with the diagnosis in particular, but also their families can be significant. That impact can be physical, emotional or social or indeed, all or any combination of all three. Knowing children aged four years and older in Scotland will have access through their doctors to a new treatment option is very encouraging."