Conference Coverage

Diazepam nasal spray effective in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome


AT CNS 2022

– A new analysis of data from a phase 3 clinical trial suggests that an inhaled diazepam nasal spray (Valtoco, Neurelis Inc.) works about as well among patients with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) as it does with other patients with pediatric encephalopathies.

LGS is a severe form of epilepsy that generally begins in early childhood and has a poor prognosis and seizures that are often treatment refractory. The findings of the analysis should be encouraging to physicians who may view patients with LGS as not benefiting from treatment, said Daniel C. Tarquinio, DO, who presented the results at the 2022 annual meeting of the Child Neurology Society.

“Their response to their first appropriate weight-based rescue dose of Valtoco was essentially no different. They were subtly different, but they’re not really meaningful differences. Very few needed a second dose. In practice this is helpful because we know that kids with LGS, we think of them as having worse epilepsy, if you will. But if they need rescue, if we prescribe an appropriate rescue dose based on their weight, that the same rescue will work for them as it will for a kid that doesn’t have – quote unquote – as bad epilepsy that needs rescue,” said Dr. Tarquinio, a child neurologist and epileptologist and founder of the Center for Rare Neurological Diseases.

During the Q&A, Dr. Tarquinio was asked if there is something about the biology of LGS that would suggest it might respond differently to the drug. Dr. Tarquinio said no. “The reason we even looked at this is because many clinicians told us that their sense was [that patients with LGS] did not respond as well to rescue in general no matter what they use. This allowed us to go back and look at a controlled data set and say, at least in our controlled dataset, they respond the same,” he said.

Grace Gombolay, MD, who moderated the session, agreed that the results should be encouraging. “It seems like a lot of clinicians have the sense that Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome is a very terrible refractory epilepsy syndrome, and so doing rescue doesn’t seem to make sense if they don’t really respond. I think it’s helpful to know because there are actually studies showing that Valtoco seems to actually work in those patients, so it’s actually useful clinically to prescribe those patients and give it a shot,” said Dr. Gombolay, director of the Pediatric Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at Emory University, Atlanta.

LGS patients may experience hundreds of seizures per day. “It’s really hard for parents to quantify, did they get better? Did the rescue help or not, because they’re still having some seizures. I think the sense is, ‘oh, this isn’t working.’ That’s probably the bias. I think this is good data that if you are able to get Valtoco for your patients, I think it’s worth a shot even in Lennox-Gastaut,” said Dr. Gombolay.

The researchers conducted a post hoc analysis of the phase 3, open-label, repeat-dose safety study of Valtoco. The study included a 12-month treatment period with visits at day 30 and every 60 days following. Patients had the option of staying on the drug following the end of the treatment period. Seizure and dosing information were obtained from a diary. The study enrolled 163 patients whose physicians believed they would need to be treated with a benzodiazepine at least once every other month to achieve seizure control. Dosing was determined by a combination of age and weight. If a second dose was required, caregivers were instructed to provide it 4-12 hours after the first dose.

In the study cohort, 47.9% of patients were aged 6-17 years. The researchers looked specifically at 73 cases of seizure clusters. In nine cases, the patient had LGS (five male, four female). Nearly all (95.9%) of LGS cluster cases were treated with a single dose and 4.1% were exposed to a second dose. Among 64 cases involving a patient with pediatric epileptic encephalopathies, 89.4% were treated with a single dose and 10.6% received a second. The safety profile was similar between patients with LGS and those with pediatric encephalopathies.

Dr. Gombolay has no relevant financial disclosures.

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