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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Epilepsy drugs to be assessed

7 August, 2001

New drugs for colorectal cancer, breast cancer and epilepsy and treatments for diabetes and kidney patients are being referred to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), Health Minister Lord Philip Hunt has confirmed.

The treatments are part of a sixth wave of topics which are being looked at by NICE following consultation.

A number of new epilepsy drugs have recently been introduced, either as second-line therapy on their own or as "add-on" treatment to conventional drugs such as sodium valproate. There are widespread variations in clinical practice and in access to these drugs. NICE appraisal would advise on the clinical and cost effectiveness of the newer drugs, both in children and in adults, and help to promote appropriate uptake and equitable access. This would be part of the preparatory work for the recently-announced National Service Framework on neurological conditions.

Launched in 1999, NICE helps tackle the postcode lottery of prescribing - where treatments are available in some areas and not others. It should also speed up the uptake of clinically and cost effective new treatments by issuing clear, evidence-based guidance to the NHS on the use of drugs and treatments.