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Children in Wales with epilepsy gain access to extra drug option

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An epilepsy drug has been approved for use in the NHS to treat children with the condition in Wales.

The move, which covers children aged between four and 15, follows a decision by the All Wales Medicine Strategy Group (AMWSG).

“I look forward to seeing the fund continuing to promptly deliver the latest, innovative medicines to patients”

Vaughan Gething

As a result, children will now have access to lacosamide (Vimpat) as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of partial-onset seizures, even if the partial seizure spreads across the brain.

The AMWSG’s approval documents, published earlier this month, cover lacosamide 50mg, 100mg, 150mg and 200 mg film-coated tablets, as well as 10mg/ml syrup and 10mg/ml solution for infusion.

The Welsh government noted that paediatric epilepsy was the most common neurological disorder in the country, affecting about 0.7% of all children.

It highlighted that around 10-29% of paediatric patients found that currently available anti-epileptic drugs did not control their seizures sufficiently, highlighting the need for new treatment options.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium has also approved the availability of lacosamide on the NHS in Scotland. In contrast, the drug is not routinely available on the NHS for children in England.

The drug will be made available in Wales under a new funding system introduced by the Welsh government last year.

The New Treatment Fund for Wales makes £80m available to speed up access to the very latest medicines recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence and AMWSG.

Under the new system, all health boards in Wales are required to make a NICE or AWMSG recommended medicine available no later than two months from the date the guidance is published.

According to the Welsh government, this new system should shorten the maximum amount of time before which a health board must make a treatment available by a third.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

‘Real time’ monitoring of HCAIs in Welsh hospitals

Vaughan Gething

Commenting on the latest decision on lacosamide, health secretary for Wales Vaughan Gething said: “This is a great example of the New Treatment Fund working for epilepsy patients and their families in Wales. This can be a debilitating and distressing condition.

“The substantial investment that we have made in NHS Wales demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that patients receive the latest recommended treatments quickly, no matter where they live in Wales,” he said.

“I look forward to seeing the fund continuing to promptly deliver the latest, innovative medicines to patients who need them, making a real difference to their lives,” he added.

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