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FDA Approves New Drug to Treat Severe Form of Epilepsy

Posted Dec 01 2008 10:08am

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug, Banzel (rufinamide), for use as an adjunctive (add-on) treatment for seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

“This approval offers another treatment option for patients who suffer from these debilitating, severe seizures,” said Russell Katz, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy that usually begins before 4 years of age, and can be caused by brain malformations, severe head injury, central nervous system infection and inherited degenerative or metabolic conditions. In 30-35 percent of cases, no cause can be found. Patients may have periods of frequent seizures mixed with brief, relatively seizure-free periods; and suffer from varying types of seizures including tonic (stiffening of the body, upward deviation of the eyes, dilation of the pupils, and altered respiratory patterns), atonic (brief loss of muscle tone and consciousness, causing abrupt falls), atypical absence (staring spells), and myoclonic (sudden muscle jerks).

Most children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome experience some degree of impaired intellectual functioning or information processing, along with developmental delays and behavioral disturbances.

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