February 19, 2016 – Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes people to have recurring seizures. A seizure is an episode, usually of relatively short duration, of abnormal brain activity. Seizures can cause a variety of symptoms, including uncontrolled movements or spasms, abnormal thinking and behavior, and abnormal sensations. Muscle spasms can be violent, and loss of consciousness can occur. Seizures occur when clusters of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain undergo uncontrolled activation. A partial onset seizure begins in a limited area of the brain.
Epilepsy has many possible causes including, among others, stroke, infection, tumors, traumatic brain injury, and abnormal brain development. In many cases, the specific cause is unknown. Epilepsy is one of the most common conditions affecting the brain. Approximately 5.1 million people in the United States have a history of epilepsy and approximately 2.9 million people in the United States have active epilepsy.
The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved Brivaracetam (Briviact) as an add-on treatment to other medications to treat partial onset seizures in patients age 16 years and older with epilepsy.
The effectiveness of Brivaracetam (Briviact) was studied in three clinical trials involving 1,550 participants. Brivaracetam (Briviact), taken along with other medications, was shown to be effective in reducing the frequency of seizures.
Brivaracetam (Briviact) comes with some serious adverse effects. The most common side effects reported by people taking Brivaracetam (Briviact) in clinical trials included drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. In addition, Brivaracetam (Briviact) must be dispensed with a Medication Guide for patients, which provides important information about the medication’s use and risks. As is true for all drugs that treat epilepsy, the most serious risks include thoughts about suicide, attempts to commit suicide, feelings of agitation, new or worsening depression, aggression, and panic attacks. Rarely, patients may exhibit an allergic reaction associated with swelling of the lips, eyelids, or tongue with or without difficulty breathing.