Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oldest epilepsy drug (Ethosuximide) best for Children with "Petit Mal"....

Ethosuximide ( see structure)  is a succinimide anticonvulsant, used mainly in absence seizures. Ethosuximide is considered the first choice drug for treating absence seizures in part because it lacks the idiosyncratic hepatotoxicity of the alternative anti-absence drug Valproic acid. There is some controversy over the exact mechanism by which ethosuximide prevents absence seizures. While the view that ethosuximide is a T-type calcium channel blocker gained widespread support following its proposal, attempts to replicate the initial finding were inconsistent.

Now researchers, lead by Dr. Tracy A. Glauser, Director of Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, have come up with an interesting finding, i.e., ethosuximide (Zarontin), one of the oldest anti-seizure medications  is most effective at controlling what is called absence or "petit mal" epilepsy, with the fewest side effects. Valproic acid (Valproate, Depakote) came second, and the newest drug, lamotrigine (Lamictal), was third.

The study included children aged 2.5 to 13 years, newly diagnosed with epilepsy and free of other problems, such as autism. They were randomly assigned to one of the three drugs. The study measured primarily whether they were free of seizures without intolerable side effects after 16 weeks, with a few children continuing for as long as 20 weeks. The study also measured how the drugs affected the children's ability to pay attention.

Ethosuximide prevented seizures in 53 percent of the children, slightly less than the 58 percent freedom-from-failure rate of valproic acid but significantly better than the 29 percent for lamotrigine. But only 33 percent of those taking the older drug had significant attention problems, compared to 49 percent of those taking valproic acid, the researchers found. 

Researchers conclude that, it was somewhat unexpected that the oldest of the drugs had as good an effect as the other and better side effects &  the study highlights the importance of looking not only at seizure control but also how the child does otherwise.......

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