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Foundation Welcomes FDA Approval of Drug for Severe Epilepsy Syndrome.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 /PRNewswire/ --

The Epilepsy Foundation welcomes today's U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of topiramate (Topamax) as add-on therapy for seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, an advance in treatment that could significantly improve the lives of children and adults with this severe, debilitating condition.

People with Lennox-Gastaut experience a mixture of seizure types. Seizures are very frequent and can lead to serious injury, particularly when they occur as 'drop attacks.' Experts consider the condition "notoriously resistant to treatment" with successful results achieved in fewer than 20 percent of cases with traditional therapy.(i)

According to Patricia Osborne Shafer, R.N., M.N., who chairs the Foundation's professional advisory board, "Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is associated with a very high risk of cognitive and behavioral disability. People with this syndrome and their families go through a great amount of disappointment and hardship in managing the condition. We are extremely pleased that doctors now have Topamax as an option in the battle to help people with this disorder."

Shafer, herself a woman with epilepsy, is an epilepsy nurse specialist and Coordinator of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.

"Lennox-Gastaut syndrome rarely starts in children after age 10," she said. "Furthermore, it's a lifelong condition and commonly seen in adults living in group homes, adult foster care settings or other institutional settings."

Estimates of the incidence of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome range from three to ten percent of all childhood epilepsies(ii) or 1,400 to 4,500 new cases each year. The condition starts most frequently in children between ages 3 and 5, and is slightly more common in boys than girls.

The Epilepsy Foundation, with national offices in metropolitan Washington, D.C., and a network of affiliates throughout the nation, is the non-profit volunteer organization devoted to research for the cure, education, advocacy, and the provision of services in the community for people with seizure disorders and their families.

i Kaplan PW, Loiseau P, Fisher RS, Jallon P; Epilepsy A to Z: A Glossary of Epilepsy Terminology. demos vermande, New York 1995.

ii Genton P, Dravet C in Epilepsy: A Comprehensive Textbook, Engel, J Jr, Pedley TA, eds., Lippincott - Raven Publishers, Philadelphia 1998.

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