Health Discoveries in Epilepsy

Wider choice of epilepsy drugs are available

October 22, 2010
Doctors have a wider choice of drugs to treat their patients with epilepsy, but with them come more complex decisions about which drugs work best for individual cases.

An issue of the journal Neurologic Clinics reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a dozen new anti-epileptic drugs since 1993, including many that are easier to use and have fewer adverse drug interactions than older drugs.

Narrow-spectrum epileptic drugs are most effective in treating focal seizures, while broad-spectrum drugs work best for both focal and generalized seizures.

"Pediatricians and primary-care physicians ought to consider using broad-spectrum drugs rather than drugs such as phenobarbital and phenytoin, especially in children and adolescents, given the high incidence of generalized epilepsy syndromes in these age groups," writes Dr. Jorge Asconapé, an epilepsy specialist in the Department of Neurology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

As many as 70 percent of epileptic patients respond well to drugs, but others may have to turn to alternative therapy including special diets, behavioral modification, hormone therapy, neurostimulation and immunotherapy.

Within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, the Harvey Cushing Institutes of Neuroscience offer epilepsy programs with a multidisciplinary team of specialists who work together to understand the disease and learn about the latest therapy options available.
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