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Zarontin Gets High Marks for Kids' Epilepsy

Study Shows the Anticonvulsant Drug Works Best for Absence Epilepsy

Zarontin the 'Clear Winner' continued...

In the newly published study, Lamictal was found to be significantly less effective than Zarontin or Depakote for preventing absence seizures, while treatment with Depakote was more likely to result in concentration problems than treatment with the other two drugs.

Concentration and attention issues are among the most troubling side effects of treatment for absence seizures.

"When we considered seizure control and the effect on attention, [Zarontin] was the clear winner," Glauser says. "All things being equal, this drug should be considered the first-line treatment for children with absence epilepsy."

Study co-author Shlomo Shinnar, MD, PhD, of New York's Montefiore Medical Center, agrees.

"Unless there are reasons not to use it, Zarontin would certainly be my first-line choice," he says.

Half of Patients Failed Treatment

But it may not be the treatment many children with the disorder end up on.

Glauser points out that about half the children in the study continued to have seizures 16 to 20 weeks after starting treatment. While the treatment failure rate was highest for those taking Lamictal, it was also high in children who took the other two drugs.

"One clear message is that if a drug is not working after four or five months, it is time to move on to another drug," he says.

In an editorial accompanying the study, pediatric neurologist Eileen Vining, MD, of Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, wrote that a longer study would have more convincingly made the case that Zarontin is the best initial choice for the treatment of absence epilepsy.

While Vining praised the study's design and execution, she noted that this may not be the case for children at high risk for developing convulsive seizures, which are treated with Lamictal and Depakote but not Zarontin.

GlaxoSmithKline, which markets Lamictal, had no comment on the study.

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