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Dr. Richard Hoffmann, Ask the Pharmacist, 01/01/13

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Epilepsy drug treats partial-onset seizures

By Richard Hoffmann

Q: I heard a new drug was approved to treat epilepsy. What can you tell me of it?

A: The FDA recently (2012) approved Fycompa (perampanel) for the treatment of partial-onset seizures in patients with epilepsy.

Some people with epilepsy do not achieve good seizure control with current treatments, and Fycompa offers a new treatment option because it works in a different way than other anti-epileptic drugs.

Fycompa blocks receptors in the brain that are stimulated by the chemical glutamate. Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain and it is thought to be involved in a number of neurological disorders caused by overexcitation of nerve cells in the brain.

During clinical studies involving approximately 1,500 patients with partial-onset seizures, Fycompa helped to significantly reduce the frequency of seizures.

The most common side effects of Fycompa reported by patients include dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, irritability, falls, nausea, abnormal movements, balance disorder, vertigo and weight gain. However, other serious mental problems can occur in some patients.

Partial seizures are the most common type of seizure seen in people with epilepsy. Epilepsy is a medical condition that produces seizures affecting a variety of mental and physical functions.

According to the Institute of Medicine, epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders affecting 2.2 million people in the United States. About 60 percent of people with epilepsy have partial seizures.

In about 25 percent to 30 percent of patients with epilepsy, seizures cannot be controlled with treatment.

Richard P. Hoffmann, Pharm.D., has been a pharmacist for more than 40 years. Send questions to him at 2960 E. Coventry Court, Hernando, FL 34442.