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Relief for Boston Disabled? FDA Approves New Epilepsy Drug

Posted on Feb 02, 2012

As long as people suffer from epilepsy, researchers will continue to work hard to develop new treatments. The news was good in June 2011 when the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new epilepsy drug,

Potiga (ezogabine) has been approved as a supplementary medication to help control partial seizures experienced by many epilepsy patients. Partial seizures only affect a portion of the brain, but are still considered serious, as they can spread to other parts of the brain and cause troublesome symptoms.

According to Russell Katz, MD, who directs an area of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, “About one-third of people with epilepsy do not achieve satisfactory seizure control from treatments they are currently using.” He continued, “It is important to have a variety of treatment options available for patients with epilepsy.”

Studies of Potiga were conducted with a sampling of 1,000 adults with epilepsy. The frequency of seizures was reduced by somewhere between 30 and 40 percent in the people studied.

However, there are side effects. About 25% of the people in the trials quit the test because of these. The most common side effects include fatigue, confusion, dizziness, tremors, lack of coordination, attention problems and memory lapses. Some bladder problems were also reported.

However, the FDA saw the drug as promising and safe enough to allow it to be prescribed, beginning late in 2011.

According to the FDA, Potiga is the first drug to be approved in a new class of medications designed to help with epileptic seizures. These new drugs are not fully understood, but it is believed that they help with seizures by “stabilizing potassium channels in the brain.”

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law