Nearly half of patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy were seizure free at one year with Keppra-only therapy, according to a real-life retrospective audit presented at the 9th European Congress on Epileptology. Keppra, a brand name drug available in generic forms under the name levetiracetam, is an FDA-approved anti-seizure drug used to treat seizures in epileptics and traumatic brain injury patients.

The study was a “real-life observational study” rather than a randomized controlled trial and involved 228 patients. The dose most often prescribed for patients newly diagnosed as having refractory epilepsy is 1000 mg/day. At baseline, approximately 60 percent of patients in the study had experienced fewer than five seizures and 40 percent had had more than five seizures. Two-thirds of the patients involved in the study took levetiracetam as their first antiepileptic drug, and another one-third were switched from a different drug to levetiracetam. More than half of the patients were prescribed 250 mg twice daily for two weeks, and then the dose was increased to 500 mg twice daily. Overall, 49 percent of patients who received the drug were seizure free for more than a year.

The study did not review patients who had switched from brand name Keppra to a generic version of the drug. Some studies indicate that the subtle differences in the inactive ingredients between Keppra and generics can trigger seizures that were previously controlled.

Dr. Martin Brodie, director of the Epilepsy Unit, Western Infirmary, Glasgow, United Kingdom, the medical doctor who presented the Keppra study, said one of the main reasons for the audit was to identify a side effect profile of the drug. Adverse events that removed 16.2 participants from the study included aggression, irritability, mood swings and depression.

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