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Eisai launches epilepsy treatment Zebinix in France

Will receive full reimbursement from French healthcare authorities three years after European approval

Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai has launched its epilepsy drug Zebinix (eslicarbazepine acetate) in France three years after it was approved for use in Europe.

The drug, which will receive full reimbursement from the French health authorities, is a novel once-daily treatment indicated as an adjunctive therapy for adults with partial-onset seizures.

It is already available in several European countries, including the UK, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Greece.

In Spain, the drug is co-promoted by Eisal and Bial – the original developers of the product.

Bial has exclusive rights to promote the drug in Cyprus, Malta, Albania and Portugal as part of the 2009 deal between the two companies.

Zebinix is intended to help the third of patients with epilepsy who still experience seizures after initial treatment.

These seizures can lead to poor health, reduced likelihood of employment and an increased risk of psychological comorbidities according to Arnaud Biraben, a consultant neurologist at Pontchaillou Hospital in France.

Michaël Perrin, director of Eisai's epilepsy business, said: “The launch of Zebinix is a positive step for patients in France who do not achieve adequate seizure control.”

“Eisai is working with the regional health authorities to ensure the treatment is available as soon as possible to patients that require it the most”.

Epilepsy is thought to affect more than 500,000 people in France, according to Eisai, costing the health services more €3.5bn annually.

Zebinix has been shown to significantly reduce seizure frequency compared to placebo in phase III clinical trials, while long-term safety and continuation of its effect was demonstrated in one-year open-label extensions of these studies.

It is developed to target the sodium ion channel, which can lead to seizures when in an overactive state of neuronal firing.

Zebinix stops an inactive sodium ion channel returning to its active state, reducing the risk of seizures.

19th April 2012


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