Discredited Weight Loss Drug Shows Promise for Seizure Disorder
Fenfluramine was part of the weight loss combination drug Fen-Phen that was withdrawn from the market in 1997 at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amid concerns linking the drug to severe heart valve damage. Now, researchers say it may have anti-seizure effects in people with Dravet syndrome, a type of epilepsy.
At the American Epilepsy Society meeting in Washington, D.C., researchers presented their analysis of two identical phase III trials involving a total of 119 pediatric and young adult patients aged 2 to 18 with Dravet syndrome whose convulsive seizures were not controlled on their current anti-epileptic drug regimens. Study participants were randomized to receive a placebo or one of two daily doses of low-dose fenfluramine in addition to their current treatments.
According to the researchers, fenfluramine reduced the number of convulsive seizures significantly better than a placebo over the 14-week study period. At the end of the study, seizure rates were reduced by 64 percent in the in a higher dose group and 34 percent in a lower dose group. No cases of heart valve damage were reported.