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This article is the authors’ final published version in Epilepsy and Behavior, Volume 120, July 2021, Article number 107983.

The published version is available at Copyright © Cascino et al.


OBJECTIVE: Tolerance is a known consideration for maintenance use of benzodiazepines and other antiseizure drugs; however, clinical experience suggests that tolerance may not be anticipated with long-term intermittent use of benzodiazepines as rescue therapy. Diazepam nasal spray (Valtoco®) is a proprietary intranasal formulation approved for the acute treatment of intermittent, stereotypic episodes of frequent seizure activity (ie, seizure clusters, acute repetitive seizures) in patients with epilepsy aged ≥6 years. Reported here are exploratory analyses investigating whether there was evidence of development of tolerance in an interim analysis of a long-term, phase 3, open-label safety study of diazepam nasal spray.

METHODS: Patients and care partners were trained to administer 5, 10, 15, or 20 mg of diazepam nasal spray (age- and weight-based dosing), with a second dose administered 4-12 hours later if needed. A series of analyses were performed to assess evidence of tolerance using 2 equal, adjacent time periods and data for each patient to compare the proportion of events for which second doses of diazepam nasal spray (as a proxy for effectiveness) were administered in period 1 compared with period 2.

RESULTS: A total of 175 patients were enrolled at interim cutoff, and 158 were treated with diazepam nasal spray for 3370 seizure-cluster events. For 73.4% of patients, duration of exposure to diazepam nasal spray was ≥12 months. A total of 191 analyses were conducted; the proportion of analyses in which second doses in period 2 were lower than in period 1 was 72.8%. Only 5 analyses showed nominally statistically significant changes (P < 0.05); this is fewer than expected by chance, and these differences were not directionally consistent. There was no safety signal with continued use.

CONCLUSIONS: These analyses found no statistical evidence of tolerance with the use of diazepam nasal spray over time based on use of a second dose in an initial period of the study compared with a subsequent period for each patient. These results are in agreement with prior studies of benzodiazepine rescue therapy.

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