Funding recommendation for new medication is a positive step for Canadians living with uncontrolled epilepsy

CDR supports access to new add-on treatment for partial onset seizures in adults

TORONTO, May 13 /CNW/ - On April 29, 2011 the Canadian Expert Drug Advisory Committee (CEDAC) through the Common Drug Review (CDR) recommended that Vimpat™ (lacosamide) be listed as a reimbursed benefit by provincial and territorial public drug programs as an adjunctive, or add-on, therapy for patients who meet certain criteria. Vimpat™ is a new antiepileptic drug (AED) approved by Health Canada for use as adjunctive therapy in the management of partial onset seizures in adult patients whose seizures are not satisfactorily controlled with conventional therapy.

"While we are very pleased with this positive funding recommendation for Vimpat™, we also recognize this is only the first step in ensuring that patients have access to this new epilepsy treatment across Canada. Provincial and territorial governments must now take the next step forward and fund Vimpat™ , through their public drug benefit programs," said Gail Dempsey, president of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance.

"The symptoms of epilepsy can pose significant challenges for those living with this common neurological disorder, and many Canadians who are working hard to get their seizures under control count on their provincial drug programs for access to the treatments they need to live well," Dempsey added.

Prior to Health Canada's approval of Vimpat™ in September, 2010, it had been almost a decade since a new treatment for epilepsy was approved in Canada. Approximately 30 per cent of people living with epilepsy experience uncontrolled seizures, highlighting the ongoing need for the development of new AEDs and for government funding to ensure all eligible patients have access to all treatment options.

In its review of Vimpat™ , the Committee considered that despite the availability of numerous antiepileptic drugs, there remains an unmet need in a condition with substantial impact on quality of life.

"I commend the Committee for acknowledging that the clinical judgment of an epilepsy physician is important in the decision-making process when prescribing adjunctive therapies such as Vimpat™ to patients with uncontrolled focal onset seizures," said Dr. Richard McLachlan, Professor, Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences, University of Western Ontario, and Medical Director, Epilepsy Program, London Health Sciences Centre.

The criteria set out by the CDR recommends Vimpat™ be listed on drug formularies for patients with refractory partial onset seizures who are under the care of a physician experienced in the treatment of epilepsy, for patients currently receiving two or more antiepileptic drugs, and in whom all other antiepileptic drugs prove ineffective or not appropriate.

About Epilepsy in Canada
Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that affects approximately 300,000 people in Canada. Caused by abnormal, excessive electrical discharges of the nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain, epilepsy is characterized by a tendency to have recurrent seizures. Living with the condition can have severe impacts on a person's independence, productivity and overall quality of life.  It can also cause significant challenges including difficulty finding employment, loss of driving privileges in some provinces, cognitive decline, memory impairment and higher mortality rates. People living with epilepsy also face significant social stigma associated with seizures.

About the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance
The Canadian Epilepsy Alliance (CEA) is a Canada-wide network of grassroots organizations dedicated to the promotion of independence and quality of life for people with epilepsy and their families, through support services, information, advocacy and public awareness. The CEA network includes rural, urban, local and provincial incorporated Epilepsy Associations from coast to coast in Canada and currently has member associations in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Visit www.epilepsymatters.com for more information.

SOURCE Canadian Epilepsy Alliance

For further information:

Gail Dempsey

President, Canadian Epilepsy Alliance

Executive Director, Epilepsy Newfoundland & Labrador

709-722-0502

executivedirector@epilepsynl.com

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Canadian Epilepsy Alliance

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