New Epilepsy Drug Helps Reduce Seizure Frequency

Retigabine safe, effective for those who don't respond well to current meds, study finds

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TUESDAY, April 10, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- An epilepsy drug with a new method of action is safe and effective, according to a new study.

Retigabine works by opening potassium channels and is being developed to treat people with partial-onset seizures whose seizures are not fully controlled by other drugs.

The finding, published in the April 10 issue of the journal Neurology, may be good news for people with epilepsy who don't respond well to current available medications, said study author Dr. Roger J. Porter, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. When the study was conducted, Porter worked for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, which developed retigabine. The study was sponsored and conducted by Wyeth.

The study included 399 patients who were divided into four groups: three groups received different doses of retigabine for 16 weeks, and one group received a placebo. At the start of the study, all of the patients were having an average of eight to 10 seizures a month and were also taking one to two other epilepsy drugs.

Patients who took the highest dose of retigabine had an average of 35 percent fewer seizures during the study, compared with 13 percent for patients who took the placebo. The study also found that 33 percent of the patients who took the highest dose of the drug had a 50 percent or greater reduction in seizure frequency.

Drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, tremor, amnesia, and speech disorders were among the side effects experienced by patients who took retigabine.

More information

The Epilepsy Foundation has more about epilepsy.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, April 9, 2007

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