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Real life pharmaceutical treatment patterns for adult patients with focal epilepsy in Germany: a longitudinal and cross-sectional analysis of recently approved anti-epileptic drugs.

Objectives : The aim of this study was to investigate the antiepileptic drug (AED) treatment of adults suffering from focal epilepsies (FE) in Germany. Of special interest was the number and percentage of the patients 16 years and older receiving no treatment with an AED, treatment with one AED (monotherapy), treatment with more than one AED, and treatment with a novel AED. The definition for "novel" was newly approved at the time of market entry since 2006 (last 10 years): eslicarbazepine (ESL), lacosamide (LCM), perampanel (PER), and retigabine (RTG). Methods: The analysis was based on a claims data set covering the years 2007 to 2014, provided by AOK PLUS, a German statutory health insurance. Two patient samples were defined: (1) prevalent patients suffering from FE (at least one in- or outpatient diagnosis of FE and at least one prescription of an AED), and (2) incident FE patients (first in- or outpatient diagnosis of FE without any previous diagnoses/AED prescriptions in the preceding 6 months). Patient observation started at date of first observed inpatient or outpatient focal epilepsy diagnosis within the analyzed period. Each patient was classified as a "no AED therapy", "AED monotherapy" or "more than one AED therapy". Patients were analyzed by number and type of concomitantly prescribed AEDs in yearly tranches (no, one, two, three, four, more than four AEDs; novel versus non-novel AEDs). Results: A total of 34,422 patients diagnosed with FE aged 16 year or older (mean age 59.6 years, 48.7% female) were identified. The mean follow-up period was 1,891 days (5.2 years) since first confirmed diagnosis. The percentage of prevalent patients diagnosed with FE who received one AED (monotherapy) was stable overall and ranged between a minimum of 66.2% (2007) and a maximum of 68.9% (2010). The percentage of patients who received two AEDs ranged from 23.6% (2012) to 25.8% (2007). The remaining patients received therapies with three (6.0% in 2010 to 6.7% in 2007), four (1.0% in 2010 to 1.2% in 2009) or more than four AEDs (0.1% in 2014 to 0.3% in 2013). Between 8.1%-16.6% (2007; 2014) of the patients received no AED therapy in the observed period. In the first year after the diagnosis of FE (incident patients), 9.7% of patients didn't receive any AED therapy. Of those treated with at least one AED, 80.0% received one AED (monotherapy) only, 17.0% received therapy with two AEDs, 2.6% with three AEDs, 0.3% with four AEDs, and 0.1% with >4 AEDs during the respective observation time window and remained stable throughout the four-year follow-up period. Of prevalent patients with a diagnosis of FE, 1,889 (5.5%) received at least one prescription of a novel AED during the observation period; 98.6% of these patients received the novel AED in combination with at least one other AED. Of those patients, 269 (14.2%) received >1 novel AED. The analysis of the patients receiving novel AEDs by the time from the first confirmed diagnosis of FE until the prescription of a novel AED resulted in a mean duration of 4.0 years (SD 2.0) for ESL, 3.6 years (SD 2.2) for LCM, 5.7 years (SD 1.2) for PER, and 4.6 years (SD 0.8 years) for RTG. The mean number of AEDs prescribed before the novel AEDs were 3.2 for ESL, 2.4 for LCM, 5.0 for PER and 5.2 for RTG. Conclusions: Most patients aged 16 years or older, suffering from focal seizures, received AED monotherapy. Novel AEDs were prescribed in a small proportion of patients (<6%) and relatively late in the treatment course. These results are consistent with the recommendations of the German Society for Epileptology (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Epileptologie, DGfE) which suggests a number of monotherapy options - these options do not include the novel AEDs described in this study.

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