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A drug specifically designed to treat children with epilepsy has been launched in the UK.
Inovelon® (rufinamide) is unlike other epilepsy treatments which are currently administered to youngsters, because it was not originally developed for treating adults.
It is licensed for a particularly severe form of the disease, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which develops in early childhood and can cause sudden loss of consciousness and collapse.
However, its use is likely to be broadened to include more common forms of epilepsy.
Currently, 70% of epilepsy drugs given to children are used “off-licence”, meaning they are not prescribed for the specific adult condition for which they are licensed.
Clinical trials have generally shown that these medicines are safe for children, but other research reveals that increasingly, newer drugs are being prescribed in this way without being fully tested on children first.
Doctors then have to rely on their experience, estimating a safe and effective dose based on the child’s age and size.
Inovelon is a one-pill-a-day treatment costing £5 a day. Clinical trials showed that the medicine reduced incidence of all seizures by almost 33%.
A spokeswoman for the charity Epilepsy Action said: “We welcome any advances in the treatment of epilepsy, particularly in an area which has proved so difficult to treat.
“Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is an uncommon form of epilepsy which occurs in between one and five in every 100 children with epilepsy. The seizures are not easy to control and the condition can have a huge impact on family life.”
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