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E. The Difficulties of Developing Medications for Epilepsy

Narrator: This is Science Today. The three-decade old screening process used to test new medications to treat the seizure-causing disease epilepsy may need to be updated. According to Doctor Paul Garcia of the University of California, San Francisco, the process cannot adequately insure the safety of such medications. He says in the early 1990s felbamate looked like the perfect medicine.

Garcia: Until the other shoe dropped and in fact, after about five- or six-hundred thousand people got on the medicine, it became evident that people were dying from the medication essentially.

Narrator:The felbamate example shows how hard it is to test epilepsy medications.

Garcia: The bottom line is that the kind of testing we do before a medicine comes to market is not enough to tell us whether the medication is safe, not at all enough to tell us whether it's safe, because it doesn't tell us anything about those rare, severe side effects from the medication.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.