Twenty-four patients with refractory epilepsy on one or more antiepileptic drugs were given additional vigabatrin (1 g twice daily for six weeks, followed by 1.5 g twice daily for a further six weeks) and matched placebo in a double blind, randomised, crossover study. A battery of neuropsychological tests was administered at baseline and at weeks two, six and 12 of both treatment periods. No significant differences were found between vigabatrin and placebo at any time point for any of the objective tests of cognitive function. Patients, however, reported a greater degree of sedation after two and six weeks on vigabatrin than during the equivalent placebo phase (p < 0.01), although no such difference was apparent at 12 weeks. Follow up over a mean of 14.75 months in 12 responders, who continued on vigabatrin, revealed a significant improvement (all p < 0.01) on each of three composite scales (three psychomotor tests, four memory tests, three self rating scales) compared with their scores during the double blind trial. Vigabatrin did not cause cognitive impairment either acutely or in the long term. Phased introduction, however, seems a prudent policy to allow tolerance to early subjective sedation.
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