International study finds that three drugs equally effective in treatment of Statis Epilepticus

A major new study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine has stated that levetiracetam (Keppra), fosphenytoin (Pro-Epanutin) and valproate (Epilim) are equally effective in the treatment of Status Epilepticus.

The international study featured collaboration between a number of institutions in the UK & the US and sought to establish whether the drugs stated above are effective in the treatment of Status Epilepticus.

Status Epilepticus (SE) is a prolonged seizure (lasting for more than fivce minutes) or when multiple seizures occur without the person regaining consciousness. SE is a medical emergency which can lead to severe brain damage or death. Typically, treatments are administered intravenously to bring the person out of SE.

The senior author for the study Dr. Robert Silbergleit - a professor of emergency medicine at Michigan Medicine - explained the basis behind the study commenting, “Although levetiracetam, fosphenytoin and valproate are three of the most commonly used intravenous drugs to treat refractory status epilepticus in both children and adults, before this study, we didn't know if one of these drugs worked better, or if any of them worked well at all.”

As part of the research, more than 380 children and adults experiencing Status Epilepticus were randomized to receive levetiracetam, fosphenytoin or valproate when they presented to medical facilities in the US in the emergency situation.

Originally, it was hoped that the study would identify which of the drugs was most effective in the treatment of Status Epilepticus. However, the results showed that the three drugs were equally successful. All three led to seizure cessation within 60 minutes in approximately half the patients, and the three drugs were associated with similar incidences of adverse events.

Commenting on the findings, co-author of the study, Dr. Robin Conwit, said “Doctors can be confident that the particular treatment they choose for their patients with status epilepticus is safe and effective and may help them avoid the need to intubate the patient as well as stays in the intensive care unit.”

Further details on this study can be found here. As always, Epilepsy Ireland will continue to monitor and provide updates on emerging worldwide research which is vital to increasing understanding of the condition and how best to treat it