News in brief: PBS listing extended for anti-epilepsy drug; Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine side effects mild in neurologically disabled children; Neuroscience researcher aims for Eureka prize

2 Sep 2021

PBS listing extended for epilepsy drug

Lacosamide’s (Vimpat) PBS listing has been extended to cover treatment of idiopathic generalised epilepsy with primary generalised tonic-clonic seizures (PGTCS).

From 1 September, neurologists and paediatricians can prescribe government-funded, add-on lacosamide to eligible patients with uncontrolled seizures — dropping the price of a 56-tablet packet from $154.66 to $41.30 for general patients and $6.60 for concession.

The revised listing gives neurologists another treatment option in an otherwise limited pool for uncontrolled seizures, Austin Health Chair of Paediatric Neurology Research, Professor Ingrid Scheffer told AAP.

The drug has previously been PBS listed for intractable partial epileptic seizures. In March 2021 the PBAC recommended the listing of lacosamide for the treatment of patients with idiopathic generalised epilepsy with primary generalised tonic-clonic seizures on a cost minimisation basis to perampanel.

Pfizer vaccine side effects mild in neurologically disabled children

Side effects from Pfizer’s Bio-N-Tech COVID-19 vaccine are mostly mild in high-risk children with severe neurological disability, according to British researchers.

Their study reviewed adverse events in 27, 12–15 year old children who had severe neurological conditions and the Pfizer vaccine.

“The adverse reactions were all mild/moderate except for one child with severe fatigue and severe discomfort combined with increased agitation until day 7,” the authors wrote in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

“One family reported a change in seizure type becoming clusters, which resolved by day 7,” they added.

Six children experienced mild rash, headache, diarrhoea, presumed sore throat, neck pain, difficulty sleeping and/or low blood sugar after the first dose and five had diarrhoea, vomiting, armpit swelling and/or blisters around the mouth, the latter, thought unrelated to the vaccine, after the second dose.

Children with neurological conditions are at higher risk for hospitalisation for COVID-19 and severe or fatal disease, the authors wrote. Participants’ parents felt vaccination would “make a significant difference” to their children’s lives, they concluded.

Neuroscience researcher aims for Eureka prize

Professor Justin Yerbury, a neuroscientist at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) at University of Wollongong has been announced as a finalist for the prestigious for the Eureka Prize for scientific research.

A molecular biologist, Professor Yerbury is known for his research on Motor Neuron Disease (MND), with a particular emphasis on biochemical processes such as protein misfolding and protein aggregation. His work focuses on understanding the link between proteostasis – a process that regulates proteins within the cell – and cellular dysfunction such as hyper excitability.

Professor Yerbury’s research is motivated by personal experience, with himself and many family members having been diagnosed with MND

The Eureka award winners will be announced on Thursday 7 October.

Already a member?

Login to keep reading.

Email me a login link