On the NHS, a groundbreaking epilepsy drug will be approved that can reduce seizures frequency by up to half. In some patients the drug – called cenobamate – can even banish seizures altogether, transforming their quality of life.

Nearly 17,000 epilepsy patients may benefit from this new tablet. It is expected that it will be approved soon by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. This watchdog oversees drug spending in the NHS.

Pill has been called the greatest breakthrough in epilepsy treatment for a decade by doctors.

The money will be used for the benefit of desperate patients who cannot get well on current medications and suffer daily seizures.

A ground-breaking new epilepsy drug that cuts the frequency of seizures by at least half is set to be given the green light on the NHS. Pictured: Adam Smith, pictured with wife Caroline, had been suffering up to 50 seizures a day and was one of the first patients in the UK to benefit from the new drug

An innovative epilepsy drug, which cuts seizures frequency by at least half, is being approved for use on the NHS. Pictured with Caroline Smith: Adam Smith was suffering from up to 50 seizures per day. He was among the first to receive the drug in the UK.

Cenobamate is also known as ontozry and has been praised by leading British scientists. Dr Rhys Thomas, honorary consultant neurologist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne, says: ‘Many of these people may effectively have been told they will have epilepsy seizures for the rest of their lives.

‘But some see a remarkable improvement on this drug. Being seizure-free has a huge impact on them – it means they can drive again, hold down a job or even just make a cup of tea without constantly worrying when the next one will strike.’

Around 600,000 people suffer from epilepsy in the UK. The most severe symptom is epilepsy. It occurs when the electrical impulses which ferry information between the cells of the brain are disrupted.

There are many different types of seizures, but the most common is what’s known as focal onset seizures – which begin in one side of the brain, and patients are generally conscious.

Focal onset seizures can spread to both the brains and become a new type of seizure. Patients may feel stiffened or jerk, as well as jerking. Some can lose consciousness.

Each episode claims approximately 1,000 lives in the UK each year, most often due to seizures that occur at an unsafe moment.

It’s estimated that up to a third of patients do not fully respond to drugs, with some ending up having complex surgery to remove the part of the brain affected.

Keppra (an anticonvulsant) was introduced in the UK in the UK in a decade. It markedly improved treatment.

Cenobamate was used in clinical trials to treat focal onset seizures. Patients were given the drug every day for twelve weeks. Results were then compared to a placebo. The Lancet Neurology reported that the drug reduced seizures by more than 50% in patients with focal onset seizures.

It’s not clear exactly how it works but it is thought to dampen abnormal electrical activity in the brain. NICE will likely recommend this drug to patients suffering from frequent attacks after they have tried at least two treatments.

Adam Smith, a 32-year-old child services worker in Newcastle, was one the first people to be able to take the new medication.

When he was ten years old, he was diagnosed with epilepsy. He experienced regular seizures that left his right side paralysed up to ten days a week. Adam experienced up to 50 seizures per day by the age of 20, each lasting 40 seconds.

The cenobamate trial was started in November 2020. He says that the results have changed his life. He was able to go eight months without having a seizure. Although they still occasionally occur, these are far less common.

He has also been able get rid of almost all his other medications, without any side effects.

He says: ‘The doctors are still playing around with my doses and I have the occasional seizure. But I’m in a much better place than I’ve been in a long time. I’ve gone back to work full-time, and got a new job and a promotion. And because I’m on fewer medications, I have more energy to spend time with my wife, my son and my dog.’