Epileptic children could benefit from the same drugs that are generating positive results in trials for adults, suggests a new meta-analysis to be presented April 22–28 at the 69th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN 2017) in Boston.
While several new medicines have appeared in recent years for adults with epilepsy, researchers have delayed testing those medicines in children because of challenges those trials involve. But results drawn from a review of all randomized, placebo-controlled trials of drugs for this type of seizure, published between 1970 and 2015, seem to suggest that extrapolating the positive results observed in adults leads to similar positive results in children.
Researchers reviewed published results of seven studies — one solely on children, two on both adults and kids, and four only on adults — evaluating the effectiveness of epilepsy drugs in combination with other medications on people with primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures. These seizures are characterized by loss of consciousness, muscle stiffening and jerky movements.
Scientists reached their conclusions by looking at the average reduction in seizure frequency and the percentage of people whose seizures were reduced by 50 percent or more. Their findings suggest that the drugs’ effectiveness did not depend on the age of the patients using them.
“The results consistently showed that the epilepsy drug was beneficial compared to the placebo, and the results were comparable between adult and pediatric groups,” Douglas R. Nordli, Jr., MD, a member of AAN, said in a press release. “Since only about 50 percent of kids become seizure free after trying their first medication, it’s vitally important to have additional options for kids so they can get back to being kids.
The study was financed by Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai, whose products include Banzel (rufinamide) to treat seizures related ty Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
“The results of this analysis may bring new hope for children and teens with epilepsy and their families,” Nordli said.