'Game-Changer': Former Diet Drug Used To Treat Rare Genetic Epilepsy Syndromes
Cook Children's leader in groundbreaking research
While most of us know Fenfluramine as one of two components in a notorious weight loss drug, researchers are finding it has remarkable potential for the treatment of rare genetic epilepsy syndromes.
Cook Children’s recently participated in multicenter studies of the drug in treatment of patients with Dravet syndrome and is currently enrolling patients in a study for Lennox Gastaut Syndrome.
The research trials sponsored by Zogenix focus on a low-dose, liquid solution of fenfluramine, which was previously used in “fen-phen” for obesity and ultimately taken off the market following evidence it was related to adverse effects on heart valves.
Dravet syndrome affects an estimated 20,000 patients in the United States. Dravet results in a severe epilepsy with seizures typically resistant to treatment with currently available therapies.
The trial found that fenfluramine reduced the frequency of convulsive seizures by a median 62.7 percent, compared with a 1.2 percent median reduction in patients taking placebo, meeting the main goal of the trial.
Dr. M. Scott Perry, medical director of Neurology and Director of the Genetic Epilepsy Clinic at Cook Children’s said, “This drug is a game-changer for patients suffering from Dravet Syndrome. Rarely do we get a treatment for epilepsy which reduces seizures so significantly, especially in an epilepsy syndrome that is this refractory to therapy. I can’t wait to see if the results are as remarkable for Lennox Gastaut Syndrome.”
Thus far, no significant cardiac valvulopathy or pulmonary hypertension has been noted in trials for epilepsy, possibly due to the lower dosing used in these trials.
Zogenix will now focus on submitting applications for a marketing approval of its drug in the U.S. and Europe in the fourth quarter of 2018.