Industry Insight

Epilepsy and brain health: a call for global action and unity

Rafal Kaminski from Angelini Pharma tells Pharmafocus about the global challenge of epilepsy as well as how his company is striving to bridge the gaps in epilepsy treatment
A global challenge: understanding epilepsy
In 2021, the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD) showed us the world faces a stark reality: neurological disorders pose a significant and growing threat to global health.
Expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, neurological disorders account for a staggering 443 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), affecting 43.1% of the global population.1 In this regard, epilepsy continues to be among the top ten most impactful neurological disorders, affecting up to one in 100 people worldwide.1,2 One with a wide range of implications – hindering an individuals’ capacity to work, drive and take part in daily activities. The invisibility of the condition often leaves those affected navigating a society unaware of the challenges epilepsy can have.3
This challenge has not gone unnoticed. In 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) published The Intersectoral Global Action Plan (IGAP) on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders, which provides a pathway to help improve access to new treatments, quality of life and raise awareness to tackle stigma.4
At Angelini Pharma, we are working along with WHO and other international health bodies to put this plan into action – particularly in epilepsy. We work in partnership to tackle the social and clinical determinants of brain health, aiming to foster inclusive societies, educating on the importance of prevention and delivering efficacious therapeutics. Ultimately, to empower people with epilepsy to achieve better seizure control, enhancing their overall quality of life and ultimately striving towards achieving seizurefreedom.

Paving the way: advancements and access in neurological care

So how do we reach this goal? Our work is guided by a two-pronged approach: firstly, driving medical advancement and improved access and secondly, enhancing regulatory frameworks to prioritise brain health. The IGAP places a strong emphasis on medical innovation, recognising the critical role that advancements in seizure control and treatment outcomes play in improving the quality of life for people with epilepsy.5
The IGAP also aims to enhance access to care by significantly expanding service coverage, ensuring that people – regardless of their geographical location or economic means – have access to proper treatments.5 At Angelini Pharma, we’re at the forefront of innovation in epilepsy – prioritising the development of cutting-edge therapies, aiming to meet IGAP’s goal of setting new standards of care in epilepsy, supporting individuals in achieving new levels of seizure control and, ideally, seizure freedom.5
We’re committed to driving change through coordinated efforts globally, ensuring that the journey toward better neurological care is marked by medical advancements and increased access to treatments in line with IGAP. However, improved treatments and access can only work in partnership with tangible regulatory change.

Headway: a push for epilepsy awareness

Ensuring brain health and epilepsy is recognised as a priority, both within the European region and on a global scale across the healthcare sector – as well as in workplaces, schools and society – is a critical priority. The Headway initiative, our collaboration with The European House – Ambrosetti first launched in 2017 – is helping to shape the policy environment, uniting organisations and creating platforms that drive awareness. 6 Initiatives like this, armed with studies and data, are dedicated to advancing discussions around neurology services and management worldwide, influencing cross-country policy and guidelines.
While the European Commission (EC) has prioritised brain health and epilepsy over the last year, it’s imperative to ensure meaningful change happens now. With the allocation of funds for Mental Health and Non communicable diseases (NCDs) – encompassing neurological disorders – within the 2024 EU4Health programme, we must push for the optimisation of EU resources. Specifically, we should aim to foster a collaboration across European countries that not only increases research funding into neurological disorders like epilepsy, but also enhances patient access to innovative treatments, improves cross-border health data exchange and standardises care protocols. This partnership should strive to make Europe a global leader in brain health innovation and patientcare. 7,8

Bridging gaps and building futures

At Angelini Pharma, we are focused on ensuring positive change for patients as quickly and as wide-reaching as possible. That’s why we are working towards the IGAP’s outcomes by advancing our neuroscience pipeline and increasing patient access to innovative medications whilst simultaneously building collaborations with a wide range of partners to push for meaningful regulatory reform.
Driving change in epilepsy care is a collective effort, encompassing patient education, support systems and advocacy for policy changes. By fostering partnerships that leverage the strengths of the global healthcare ecosystem, we are nurturing a powerful community united by the goals laid out in the IGAP. At the end of the day, it’s about ensuring that every person impacted by epilepsy is seen, and that their input and lived experience is part of our larger strategy – to help and support people with epilepsy.

Rafal Kaminski currently serves as the chief scientific officer of Angelini Pharma, part of the privately owned Angelini Industries. As a physician scientist with broad experience within the industry, he most recently held senior R&D leadership roles at UCB Pharma, Roche and Molecure. In addition to his industry roles, Rafal remains actively engaged with academia through multiple research collaborations. He earned his medical degree and doctorate in pharmacology from the Medical University of Lublin, Poland, and post-doctoral training at Radboud University, The Netherlands, and the National Institutes of Health, US. He also holds a Diploma in Pharmaceutical Medicine from ULB in Belgium.