brain waves and testsPharmaceutical company UCB has announced that a new add-on treatment for adults with partial-onset seizures (POS), with or without secondary generalised seizures, will be available on the NHS in the UK.

Briviact (brivaracetam) is an anti-epileptic drug that will provide patients with POS a new opportunity to better manage their seizures.

In an international Phase 3 study of 768 patients uncontrolled on their previous medication, at 50mg dose twice daily against placebo, brivaracetam was shown to give significant seizure freedom compared with the patients’ usual medication. Patients also revealed the importance of reducing the titration period – 51% of patients who participated in an independent European treatment satisfaction survey said this was an important goal. The Brivaracetam clinical trials programme was one of the largest in epilepsy, with more than 3,000 patients taking part.

About 600,000 (or one in 100) people are living with epilepsy in the UK and the number of cases is increasing, partly as a result of the ageing population. Additionally, only 52% of people treated for epilepsy are seizure-free, but that figure could rise to 70% with the right treatment. 

Around 10% of all A&E admissions are for convulsions and seizures, but less than half of these patients are referred to a specialist, and many may also not be receiving the optimal treatment for their epilepsy.

Seizures, which often occur without warning, make it difficult for patients to lead a normal life, as well as hold down a job or relationship. The economic cost of epilepsy in England and Wales is estimated at £2 billion annually, 69% of which is due to indirect costs such as unemployment and mortality.

Dr Mark Manford, Consultant Neurologist at Bedford and Addenbrookes Hospitals, said: “Finding the right combination of medicines for many epilepsy patients can be a long journey, during which time the patient may continue to suffer seizures and living a normal life is very difficult. As a neurologist working with patients whose seizures have not yet been brought under control, I welcome the possibility that a new medicine may be able to contribute to the tools available to help my patients.”

Simon Wigglesworth, Deputy Chief Executive at Epilepsy Action, said: “Seizures can have a significant impact on people's lives and wellbeing so it's really important that those with epilepsy can access the best possible treatment to help them enjoy life to the full. It is always encouraging to see the creation of new medicines for people with epilepsy. Brivaracetam could be an effective treatment for those people with epilepsy who have so far struggled to become seizure-free.”

John-Kenneth Sake, Head Medical Affairs Central Nervous System Europe at UCB added: “We are delighted to offer an alternative treatment to epilepsy patients who are having difficulties in controlling their seizures. UCB has been committed to the management of epilepsy, working very closely with patients through all stages of development to ensure a better understanding of the unmet needs of those suffering from this severe and life-changing condition. We hope that the launch of brivaracetam will help many epilepsy patients in the UK and across Europe.”

Brivaracetam was granted European Medicines Agency authorisation for use within Europe and the UK on January 14, specifically for the treatment of POS, with or without generalised seizures.