SOURCE: UCB Pharma, Inc.

November 01, 2005 09:00 ET

Growing Demand From Epilepsy Patients for Seizure Response Dogs Answered by Partnership Between UCB Pharma, Inc. and Canine Assistants

Specially Trained Dogs Help Patients to Heal Many of the Physical, Emotional and Social Challenges That Accompany Epilepsy

ATLANTA, GA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- November 1, 2005 -- UCB Pharma, Inc., and Canine Assistants today announced a multi-year partnership to sponsor seizure response dogs for epilepsy patients across the U.S. These dogs represent the fastest growing requests received by Canine Assistants. Under the sponsorship, UCB will provide support for the care, training and lifetime veterinary costs of all dogs given to epilepsy patients.

Priscilla McCabe knows first hand the devastating effects epilepsy has on patients and their families. "When my son was diagnosed with epilepsy, I quickly learned that controlling seizures is only the first step; it's about improving his total quality of life," said Priscilla whose son Sean has received the first seizure response dog supported by the partnership between UCB and Canine Assistants. "When I heard about all the amazing things these animals can do, I had no doubt that a seizure response dog would change our lives. The dog will help keep Sean safe and allow him to once again enjoy all the things he loves to do like riding his bike and completing his college education. And the fact that there is no cost to us is tremendous -- it's like an early Christmas present for the family."

Epilepsy, which affects 2.7 million Americans, is difficult to treat. Every patient reacts differently to treatment, and it can be challenging to find the appropriate treatment regimen to best manage an individual patient's seizures. In fact, nearly one-third of people with epilepsy are unable to manage their condition with medication and continue to have seizures. This lifelong battle can be emotionally taxing, affecting everyday activities, which can lead to depression, anxiety and loss of independence. For epilepsy patients and their caregivers, getting a seizure response dog can mean the beginning of a new life for the entire family.

"The commitment UCB has made to Canine Assistants is critical to our ability to realize the full potential for this program," said Jennifer Arnold, founder and Executive Director of Canine Assistants. "The impact these dogs have is enormous -- recipients want to go back to school, they get involved in extracurricular activities again and they come out of their shells to lead more independent lives with a renewed sense of confidence. Because of the support provided by UCB, we are able to provide these dogs -- it is a whole new world for these recipients and a wonderful thing to see."

In addition to providing constant companionship, seizure response dogs are trained in over 90 general commands including picking up medicine, opening doors, turning on lights, and specialized commands such as helping recipients experiencing a seizure safely to the ground and going for help. The scientific community is currently engaged in research to determine why many of these dogs seem to be able to detect the onset of a seizure earlier than humans. One UK study shows trained dogs are able to provide overt signals alerting their owner of a pending seizure up to 45 minutes prior to the event.

"The partnership with Canine Assistants reflects our awareness at UCB that patients with epilepsy experience emotional, social and physical life challenges that cannot be addressed by medication," said Rich Denness, Vice President and General Manager, CNS Business Unit, UCB Pharma, Inc. "Our passion for a comprehensive and individualized approach to patient care goes beyond developing medications like Keppra® (levetiracetam) to help control seizures. UCB understands the value of treating the 'whole' patient and we are thrilled to have a partner like Canine Assistants that allows us to attain a very personal commitment to the epilepsy community."

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. For more information about epilepsy and epilepsy management visit www.ucbepilepsy.com. For more information about Canine Assistants visit www.canineassistants.com.

As The Epilepsy Company, UCB has many programs for patients with epilepsy and their caregivers, including a dedicated Web site geared toward epilepsy education. By logging on to ucbepilepsy.com, patients can access a variety of resources including a downloadable seizure diary and application forms for the newly established UCB scholarship program. The scholarship program is unique as it provides financial assistance for epilepsy patients and their families and caregivers. UCB is also a proud sponsor of the Epilepsy Foundation's H.O.P.E Mentoring Program™ (Helping Other People with Epilepsy) that trains people with epilepsy to be "patient educators" throughout the epilepsy and neurology communities. H.O.P.E mentors also conduct educational sessions for local social and civic groups in the community.

About Keppra®

In the U.S., Keppra® (levetiracetam) is approved for adjunctive therapy in the treatment of partial onset seizures in adults and children 4 years of age and older with epilepsy. Keppra® is available in 250, 500 and 750 mg tablets and a grape-flavored (100 mg/mL) oral solution for patients who prefer a solution or have difficulty swallowing tablets. Keppra® dosing must be individualized according to renal function status. Since its launch, Keppra® has had more than 600,000 unique patient starts in the United States.

In adults, Keppra® use is associated with the occurrence of central nervous system adverse events, including somnolence and fatigue, coordination difficulties, and behavioral abnormalities as well as hematological abnormalities. In pediatric patients 4 to16 years of age, Keppra® is associated with somnolence, fatigue, and behavioral abnormalities, as well as hematological abnormalities. In adults, the most common adverse events associated with Keppra® in combination with other AEDs were somnolence, asthenia, infection, and dizziness. Of these, most appeared to occur predominantly during the first 4 weeks of treatment. In pediatric patients 4 to16 years of age, the most common adverse events associated with Keppra® (levetiracetam) in combination with other AEDs were somnolence, accidental injury, hostility, nervousness, and asthenia.

Keppra® was approved in 1999 as adjunctive therapy for adults with partial onset seizures and is the most prescribed second-generation AED used in epilepsy. For full prescribing information please visit www.keppra.com.

About Canine Assistants

Canine Assistants is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 that trains and provides service dogs for select children and adults with physical disabilities or other special needs. These dogs are adopted from various organizations and selectively screened for personality, temperament and general health. Following general training of more than 90 commands, which include turning on lights and retrieving medication, seizure response dogs are trained to perform one of the following specialized behaviors, depending on the recipient's need: remain next to the person during the course of a seizure; summon help in a controlled environment; or retrieve a phone prior to the seizure when indicated by the recipient. In addition to physically assisting those with disabilities, Canine Assistants service dogs are instrumental in removing many of the barriers faced by the disabled in today's society.


About UCB

UCB S.A. (www.ucb-group.com) is a global biopharmaceutical leader dedicated to the research, development, and commercialization of innovative products in the fields of central nervous system disorders, allergy and respiratory diseases, immune and inflammatory disorders and oncology. UCB employs over 8,500 people operating in over 40 countries, and achieved revenues of EUR 2.1 billion (including net turnover, royalties, and fees) in 2004. UCB is listed on the Euronext Brussels with a market capitalization of approximately EUR 5.5 billion. Worldwide headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium.

UCB Pharma, Inc. is the North American subsidiary of UCB S.A., with U.S. headquarters located in Smyrna, Georgia. UCB key products in the U.S. are Keppra® (levetiracetam), Zyrtec®† (cetirizine HCl), Tussionex® CIII (hydrocodone polistirex/chlorpheniramine polistirex), and Metadate CD™ CII (methylphenidate HCl, USP).

† Zyrtec is licensed to and co-promoted with Pfizer, Inc. in the United States.

*Keppra® (levetiracetam) is a registered trademark of the UCB Group

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