brainA new study suggests that an epilepsy drug that can be taken once a day may control seizures as well as a drug that must be taken twice a day, according to a preliminary study released that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada (15–21 April).

The study compared the once-a-day drug eslicarbazepine acetate to the twice-daily drug carbamazepine for people newly diagnosed with partial seizures, which start in one area of the brain.

“Seizure control is crucial,” said study author Elinor Ben-Menachem, MD, of Gothenburg University in Gothenburg, Sweden, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “A once-a-day drug may help people stick to their medication schedule.”

For the study, 815 people newly diagnosed with partial seizures received either eslicarbazepine or carbamazepine for about 6 months. Participants started the study at the lowest of three dosing levels. Those who had a seizure at the lowest level were then moved up to the second dosing level. If they had another seizure, they received the highest dosing level.

A total of 71% of those taking eslicarbazepine and 76% of those taking carbamazepine were seizure-free after 6 months. After one year, 65% of those taking the once-daily drug were seizure-free compared to 70% of those taking the twice-daily drug.

The study was what is called a non-inferiority study, which is designed to show that a new treatment is not clinically worse than an existing treatment. According to the study design, eslicarbazepine would be considered “non-inferior” if the difference in seizure-free rate between the two drugs was 12% or lower. At 6 months, the difference was 4%. At one year, the difference was 5%.

“Memory issues, fatigue, or a complicated medication schedule can all interfere with a person taking their seizure-control medications on a regular basis so having a once-daily option for patients, especially when they are newly diagnosed and still learning to manage the disease, may be beneficial,” said Ben-Menachem. “The hope is that these results may also give doctors more options to better tailor treatments for people with epilepsy.”