Current state of the union of epilepsy care in the United States: Antiepileptic drugs — An introduction to the Connectors Project

Joseph I. Sirven, Patricia O. Shafer, Linda Kalilani, Imane Wild, Jesse Fishman, Steve Owens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: How antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are used in the United States (US) is one proxy public health indicator for the current state of epilepsy management. The use of phenytoin, other older AEDs, and newer AEDs may act as an indicator for the quality of epilepsy practice in addition to the current American Academy of Neurology quality measures. Data on AED used by states and populations can help identify which public health interventions are necessary to improve the status of epilepsy care. The Connectors Project, a collaboration between the Epilepsy Foundation and UCB Pharma, is a multiyear project designed to improve epilepsy awareness and management in underserved communities. The objective of the first phase of the Connectors Project was to assess geographic variation in epilepsy care and identify locations in need of improved epilepsy care by initially evaluating AED use in the US. Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional administrative claim analysis was conducted using the QuintilesIMS™ database which included US longitudinal retail prescription and office medical claims data. Patients with a confirmed epilepsy diagnosis who were prescribed AEDs were identified. Patients with an AED prescription over a 3-year period from January 2013 to December 2015 were included if they had an epilepsy diagnosis in the 2-year period before their first AED prescription in the reporting period. The percentages of patients initially prescribed phenytoin, other older AEDs (carbamazepine and valproate), and newer AEDs (eslicarbazepine, lacosamide, lamotrigine, levetiracetam, oxcarbazepine, perampanel, topiramate) were calculated and stratified by US state and Washington, DC. Patients were considered newly treated if they had an epilepsy diagnosis code and had not received an epilepsy drug in the 1-year period preceding the first AED prescription in the reporting period. Data are reported using the moving annual total ending December 2015. Results: Approximately 2.5 million US patients with epilepsy and their AED prescriptions were identified from 2013 to 2015. Predictably, states with the largest population had the highest number of patients with epilepsy who were prescribed an AED, including California, Texas, Florida, and New York. Regions with the highest total proportion of phenytoin use with a low proportion of newer AED use were Mississippi (24.4% and 53.1%, respectively) and Washington, DC (24.7% and 58.1%). Montana had the lowest proportion of phenytoin use with the highest proportion of newer AED use (7.9% and 70.4%). Among newly treated patients (N = 237,347), Hawaii (39.1%) and Alaska (38.8%) had the highest percentage of phenytoin use compared with all other states. Idaho (86.1%) and Montana (84.4%) had the highest proportion of newer AED use. Washington, DC (50.9%) and Hawaii (60.9%) had the lowest proportion of patients treated with newer AEDs. North Dakota (29.6%) and Washington, DC (27.9%) had the highest rates of other older AEDs use. Conclusions: A substantial proportion of newly treated US patients with epilepsy are underserved regarding newer AED use with Mississippi and Washington, DC having the highest proportion of phenytoin use relative to newer AED use. Understanding the socioeconomic and demographic barriers for these observations is essential in planning interventions to improve the quality of life and care for patients with epilepsy, including newly treated patients. These data provide a baseline to target educational and clinical interventions for improving the quality of US epilepsy care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-103
Number of pages6
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Antiepileptic drug
  • Epilepsy
  • Public health
  • Quality of care
  • Seizure
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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