Japan’s Eisai Corp has been boosted by the news that regulators in the USA have given the green light to Banzel for the treatment of epilepsy.

Specifically, the US Food and Drug Administration has approved Banzel (rufinamide) for the adjunctive treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome in children aged four and older, plus adults. The approval was based in part on a Phase III study which showed that LGS patients treated with Banzel as adjunctive therapy showed a 42.5% reduction in frequency of drop attacks (where a person loses consciousness and falls to the ground), compared with a 1.4% increase for placebo-treated patients.

Eisai noted that LGS is characterised by multiple and frequent seizures and accounts for 1%-4% of all childhood epilepsy cases. Approximately 300,000 children in the USA under the age of 14 suffer from the condition.

Banzel is a triazole derivative that is structurally unrelated to currently marketed antiepileptic drugs. It is believed to exert its effect by regulating the activity of sodium channels in the brain which carry excessive electrical charges that may cause seizures.

The treatment is already available in Europe where it is sold as Inovelon. It was discovered and developed by Swiss drug major Novartis, which licensed rights to Eisai in 2004.