A once-a-day epilepsy drug may be as effective as a twice-daily drug, according to new research.

Doctors say it would allow a simpler medication regime for those suffering with the condition.

The study showed that the drug eslicarbazepine acetate prescribed on the NHS as Zebinix , which is taken once per day, was almost as effective at reducing seizures as the twice-daily drug carbamazepine, prescribed also as Tegretol.

Researchers involved in the study took 815 people who had recently been diagnosed with partial seizures and gave them either the daily or the twice-daily drug.

Those who had seizures at the lowest dosage moved up a dosage level, moving up to the third and final dosage strength if the seizures continued.

Professor Elinor Ben-Menachem, from Gothenburg University in Sweden, said: “Seizure control is crucial. A once-a-day drug may help people stick to their medication schedule.”

A total of 71 per cent of those taking the once-a-day drug were seizure-free after six months – compared to 76 per cent of those taking the twice-a-day drug.

After one year, 65 per cent of those taking the once-daily drug were seizure-free compared to 70 per cent of those taking the twice-daily drug.

The study is known as a non-inferiority study, which aims to shows that a new treatment is not clinically worse than an existing treatment – if the once-a-day drug is show to produce a seizure-free rate of 12 per cent or lower, then it would be considered non-inferior.

The difference in these two drugs was four per cent at six months, and five per cent a year later.

Prof Ben-Menachem added: “Memory issues, fatigue, or a complicated medication schedule can all interfere with a person taking their seizure-control medications on a regular basis so having a once-daily option for patients, especially when they are newly diagnosed and still learning to manage the disease, may be beneficial.

“The hope is that these results may also give doctors more options to better tailor treatments for people with epilepsy.”

The findings were presented at the American Academy of Neurology in Vancouver, Canada.

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