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Introduction: Despite the introduction of numerous new antiseizure medications (ASMs) still about one-third of epilepsies remain drug-resistant. Therefore, new compounds with advanced efficacy are urgently needed. Cenobamate (CNB) is a new ASM that has been recently introduced in the United States for the treatment of adults with focal-onset seizures. The approval in Europe is under way.Areas covered: This review covers the pharmacological profile of CNB, the proof-of-concept trial, the two double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 2 trials investigating adjunct CNB in adults with focal-onset seizures, one open-label safety trial, and a variety of published abstract material that provided additional post hoc data.Expert opinion: In two placebo-controlled randomized multicenter phase 2 trials adjunct CNB showed unusually high efficacy with rates of seizure-free people with epilepsy (PWE) partially beyond 20%. However, during the clinical program cases of drug-related reactions with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS syndrome) occurred. Therefore, an open-label safety study was performed in more than 1300 PWE with particularly slower titration schedules which did not add more cases with similar reactions. Taking into consideration the promising efficacy and the safety experience from the open-label trial, CNB applied according to the meanwhile recommended titration strategy, might offer a new prospect.


Bernhard J Steinhoff. Cenobamate tablets as a treatment for focal-onset seizures in adults. Expert review of clinical pharmacology. 2021 Feb;14(2):161-172

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PMID: 33470139

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