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New Epilepsy Drug Approved

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new epilepsy drug that may prove easier for some patients to take because it does not seem to cause dangerous interactions with other medications.

The FDA on Wednesday approved Keppra, made by UCB Pharma of Smyrna, Ga., for use to control partial onset seizures when used with other anti-epilepsy drugs.

About two million Americans have some form of epilepsy, in which abnormal electrical activity in the brain causes seizures. Partial onset seizures occur when that electrical activity occurs in only one region of the brain.

Keppra, known chemically as levetiracetam, is different than most other epilepsy medicines, primarily because it is not metabolized through the liver. That means it is unlikely to cause dangerous interactions with other medications, the FDA said. In addition, no serious blood- or liver-related side effects were seen in clinical trials of more than 1,300 patients, the agency said.

UCB Pharma said Keppra will be available by prescription in the spring, but it did not reveal the price.

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